In my senior year of high school I had my first opportunity to take a class in computer programming. It wasn’t a required class; I just needed to pick a few electives to fill up my schedule. In the class we wrote several different kinds of programs – a few games, some business applications. Some of these programs were interesting and fun to write, others were a little boring. But what I found really fascinating, regardless of the assignment, was that I could imagine something and then by simply typing some commands into the computer, I could make that thing come to life. It was creative and powerful at the same time. No other subject had every sparked my curiosity like computer programming and if I hadn’t tried that class I would have never known!
As graduation approached, one of my teachers asked me about college and what I was planning to study.
“Computer science,” I replied. I had only taken the one class and I really wanted to learn more.
My teacher responded, “Well everybody changes their major at least once.”
That comment did not sound very encouraging. In fact it made me doubt my plans for a moment. The stereotypical image of a computer programmer was (and maybe still is) a nerdy guy sitting alone at his computer in the middle of the night surrounded by empty pizza boxes. That’s not me! But then I got a little bit stubborn… instead of doubting myself, this comment made me even more determined to major in computer science and have a career writing computer programs. And that’s what I did!
I studied hard and earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science. And today I work as a software engineer at GE Healthcare. My team and I write software for MRI machines. These machines capture images of what is going on inside a patient so that their doctor can quickly diagnose what’s wrong. Since that first high school programming class, I’ve worked with many different types of computers and learned many different programming languages. Technology changes very quickly and that makes this career great for some one who likes to keep learning new things.
I have no regrets about studying computer science because it has allowed me to have this very rewarding career creating products that help people. So if you’re curious about science or technology, my advice to you is don’t doubt yourself. Studying and working in a STEM field is a great opportunity to be creative, learn a lot, and do very meaningful work!
Principal Sofware Engineer at GE Healthcare