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Rather be a has-tried than a never-been

hiddencilantro profile image Joohyun Kim Updated on ・3 min read

Why software engineering? Frankly, for me, the answer to that question dates back to 15 years ago. It’s 2005, I’m in my sophomore year of high school and I’ve just picked out Web Design as an elective. I choose it because it seems like an undemanding class that I can take advantage of to garner a ‘free A’ so-to-speak. And although I don’t wish to generalize high schoolers, I would describe myself as having been a ‘typical’ student. By typical I mean that I didn’t care much for studying or academics; I did those things because it was what I was ‘supposed’ to do. I loved video games and basketball, I hated getting up in the morning, school was a place to hang out with friends more than it was for going to class, I’d grab any opportunity to get out of the classroom or be dismissed early from school, I much preferred extracurricular activities over homework, and if anyone asked, my favorite subjects were PE and lunch. That was until I took Web Design.

It was the first time I experienced anything like it. I remember thinking, “Finally! A class that I don’t dread going to.” Or better yet, one that I actually find enjoyable and even look forward to. And while this was more than enough to pique my interest, I noticed as the year progressed that I was not only appreciating it, but I was also performing among the top of my class. And before I could even figure out why, my peers were starting to approach me for help. Granted it was only some very basic HTML and CSS, and while I’m getting very humbled at the start of my journey with Flatiron, at the time it was an encouraging moment for me. You see, I was a decent athlete and had decent grades across-the-board, but I had never been truly exceptional at anything. Yet what I was learning in that Web Design class just clicked with me. At times I simply couldn’t empathize with my peers who were struggling with concepts that seemed so obvious and apparent. I understood that it was like learning a new language, only difference being that this particular language made sense to me. I was comprehending it far better and more easily than most which brought me to the realization that I might have the right aptitude for code.

This was probably the beginning for me in giving programming any real thought. For the very first time I considered software engineering as a viable and realistic career path that I could pursue. The surest evidence I got was the countless hours I had willingly spent on that class. Unlike doing assignments and projects for other classes, I was doing more than what was required of me and I was doing it while having fun. As painful and irritating as it is when your code doesn’t function the way it should, I get an odd (or perhaps not so odd) rush out of fixing it and getting it to work.

But somewhere along the road, life happened and I lost sight of it all. I lost sight of how much I had enjoyed coding, of how quickly time breezes by when I’m sitting in front of the computer to improve a website or figure out a bug. I lost sight of the potential I saw in myself and in a career that could have been right for me. And so here I am, many years later, using the pandemic as an excuse to finally take a stab at something I had always wondered about and see where it leads me. I’m nervous, excited, and at times still uncertain and doubtful, but I’m in high spirits and I’m optimistic that the industry will welcome me with open arms as long as I stay humble, positive, and dogged.

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