Today I wanted to share my journey of how I became a Software Engineer. Software development became very popular in recent years but 14 years ago I had no idea that it even exists. My knowledge regarding computers was limited to playing games such as Red Alert, Commandos and Age of Empires. All you needed was a CD to install the game, a mouse and keyboard for navigation and infinite amount of hours to play. I created my first email in 2003 and used the Internet for school projects to print pictures about animals or trees. Yes, that is after the dot-com bubble which by the way, I didn’t know about until few years ago.
A little history
My last year at high school back in Lebanon, like many teenagers, I had no clue what I wanted to do and we didn’t really get much orientation about what is out there nor did I make any effort to learn. The most popular options if you had high marks were medicine or engineering but I loved chemistry. Unfortunately, there was no job market for that major so I started asking around. Computer Science or Telecommunication and Computer Engineering were my best options since I didn’t want to be a doctor. Honestly, the differences between the two majors were unclear and the only common thing was nothing but the obvious answer, computers. Since that didn’t help, I subsequently asked the wrong question, which one makes more money? and thats how I started my engineering degree.
Not going to lie, I hated it and had no interest in continuing after my first year, but family expectations meant I can’t quit and risk being labeled a failure. If you change major, it means you gave up, you are not smart enough, a loser and for me that was not an option regardless of the fact that all of these labels are wrong. This is part of the culture that I grew up in (it is slowly changing). After 5 years, I graduated and got a job as a technical consultant with a local company. The job involved working with AS400 servers and RPG programming language and I couldn’t wait to quit after only 3 months.
The real journey
The summer after graduation and while working I started having second thoughts about my career. Is this what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? The answer was no, but deep down inside I knew I loved to code and change is needed to correct the path I took. The decision was to start from scratch. As a result, I applied to British Columbia Institute of Technology, quit my job a year after and moved to Vancouver. Second best decision I made in my life so far. The first one is left for the reader to guess . Last month marked my fifth year at Orderbot/Weblinc and I have never looked back.
What I love about coding
Everything about writing code is amazing to me, including the countless hours hunting bugs and debugging through thousands of lines of code. The feeling you get when achieving a goal is so satisfying. Coding is never boring, technology is changing everyday and you have to adapt all the time. You never stop learning. The challenges you face on a daily basis keep feeding your brain and keep you eager to push yourself to reach new limits. It is a form of art but instead of painting you let the keyboard do the painting for you.
This journey taught me a lot and will for many years to come. Search for what you love, what you are passionate about and don’t be scared to fail. No matter what people think or say, create your own path and you will excel and conquer your goals.