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My Journey to Computer Science as a Career Changer

mcfarlm3 profile image Michelle (she/her) ・2 min read

Hi there! My name is Michelle, and I am a current student in Oregon State University's Ecampus Post-Baccalaureate Computer Science program. I made the choice almost a year ago to quit my teaching job and pursue computer science full-time. With prior degrees in Biology and Teaching, I worked as a middle and high school science teacher up until the end of last year.

As much as I loved working with students day-to-day there were a lot of aspects of teaching that were incredibly draining on me- the feeling of constantly being a 'public figure' so to speak (not too appealing to my introvert self), the countless hours spent on grading and planning, and the increasing demands of an educational system with a whole lot of issues and not enough support.

So why computer science? At the beginning of my last year as a teacher, I was asked to pilot a unit with my biology students that incorporated computer science along with traditional biology concepts. I led my students in creating computer models of infectious disease systems and iteratively adding to those models to make predictions and think about relationships between a disease agent, host(s), and the environment.

While teaching this unit, I found myself coming home and wanting to try out more coding more than anything else. I loved the flexibility of it, the challenge, and the ability to make something come to life in front of me. One of my favorite things about teaching was the feeling that I was making a difference in the lives of others, and I think technology offers so many opportunities for this as well, perhaps even on a greater scale.

Growing up, I had never considered pursuing computer science. Aside from my schools' unfortunate lack of CS courses (I think the only course offered was Video Game Design), I always pictured computer science as a pursuit mostly for boys who were great at math and liked making video games in their free time. It seems silly now, but those were the only people I knew at the time who were into CS.

Sure, that might have been the dominant narrative at the time, but there is so much more diversity in this industry than that, and I think things have improved a lot in recent years. Lately, I've been finding inspiration from folks like mayuko and The Come Up. As I move forward in my career, I'm excited to find my own niche in the tech world. I hope the DEV community can be a place where I can find a supportive community and be open with my own learning experience. 😄

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

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mcfarlm3 profile

Michelle (she/her)

@mcfarlm3

CS student and former science teacher. Looking for community, collaboration, and opportunities to gain software engineering experience.

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