Some people in India do not get to choose their career and are usually forced by their parents to pursue Engineering or Medical fields. But it was not so in my case. I was never forced to take up Engineering. In fact, every single person in my family wanted me to enter into medical field. I was adamant that I only wanted to study computer science. I was not interested in any of the other engineering branches too. And I did not choose this field because it has a high paying job or because some Tom, Dick and Harry chose it. I chose it because I loved it.
So what really made me want to study computer science?
I saw a computer for the first time in my life when I was in my primary school. We just had one computer in the entire school. One of our teachers used to take us to the computer room and explain the different parts of a computer. I was more than excited to see this amazing equipment which of course, I could not afford to buy. Then I switched schools and in this new school in a different city, they had few computers. Interested students were asked to enroll in the computer class and without any doubt, I enrolled myself. Those classes were fun but since we had less number of computers, we had to timeshare them. I never got to use it exclusively.
I fell in love with the computer the day I saw it for the first time in my life. In general, I love gadgets and gizmos. Any new electronic device that comes to the market will make an entry into my house. Then one day on Zee TV, we saw an ad for a new computer learning show. This show was called “Chota Byte” and Zee was working with Aptech computer institute to bring this program on their channel. I was interested in joining this program. My parents enrolled me into this program immediately at an Aptech institute close to where we lived. Classes were aired on the TV, the materials/books for the program were provided at the Aptech institute and there were computers at the institute where you could practice everything taught on the TV and in the books.
To say that I loved these classes would be an understatement. This program is what made me fall in love with computers and programming. These classes decided my career for me. This course basically taught us DOS, BASIC programming language and Windows 3.1 (or some earlier version). I loved BASIC programming the most. I started writing graphical programs to draw circles, concentric circles etc and I was amazed at how easy it was to make the computer do what we wanted. I would spend hours in the lab writing programs, modifying them and seeing the output. There was no time limit and we could spend any amount of time at the Aptech center. It was my first time with a computer and I yearned to own one. But those days computers were costly and we could not afford to buy one.
When the time came to choose what I wanted to study, I chose computer science. I chose it only because I loved programming. So when people suggested that I take electronics or some other branch of engineering, I was not interested. I did engineering only because I wanted to spend more time with my computer and in programming it. I did get to program the computer in 10 or more different languages. Every time my program starts running, I get a kick out of it as if I were on some kind of drugs. When I was in college, I would spend my spare time and even summer holidays working on some hobby projects like writing programs to do whatever I wanted. As if my hobby projects were not enough, the head of my department made me do extra engineering projects for him. He published those projects in the Engineering text book that he was writing.
The only reason I did well in my exams was because I loved what I was studying. I loved computers and everything to do with them. That’s why I would bring extra books from the college library, buy all the recommended books for a course and do some extra reading for my own sake. I never studied anything with exams in mind.
Once a friend advised me that testing was a better job for women as they could go home early and had less responsibilities. I never took to testing job because the only reason I am working as a computer engineer is because I love programming. If I were not writing programs all the time, I don’t see any point in choosing this career.
Not everyone becomes a computer engineer because their parents forced them to become one or because they saw everyone else doing it. That’s why movies like “3 idiots” don’t make any sense to me.
So what made you choose your current career?