How did I become a Software Engineer?

04 August 2022

How did I become a Software Engineer?

Being a software engineer wasn't my first choice. But, I always knew I was going to be some sort of engineer or scientist.

My interest toward science and technology began when I was in my high school, back at home in Myanmar. I started to be curious about physics, cosmology, and electronics. I remember there was one chapter in our high school physics class, it's Integrated Circuit, where we learnt stuff like Ohms law, voltage and how logic works. It was particularly interesting to me that led me to dig more about it on the Internet. I remember I was trying to create an electronic circuit without totally understanding what is it. Obviously it didn't work.

"Something always starts from something"

Right after my high school in 2012, I decided to pursue Electrical Engineering to further understand how circuits work and how electronic devices are being made. I was 16 when I went to Singapore to start my one year foundation program at PSB Academy as I did not have GCE A Level equivalent education. That was the time when I got my very first personal laptop.

I used it as a study material. I browsed Internet and watched movies. My curiosity and Interest toward science and technology began to expand. I started to wonder how those computer software and games are created. It's certainly not electronic circuit.

I started doing research and discovered something called Programming. At that time, I already started my University foundation program for Electrical Engineering. The subjects I was doing were Mathematics, English and Physics, which weren't really busy at all. So, I had an extra time to do other stuff.

"Never stop learning what you love doing"

In the school's library, I searched for programming and found a book called Python for Dummies. I started reading and following the instruction from the book. I wrote my very first program that output Hello, Kelvin. I was amazed. I kept reading and leant other stuff in programming such as for loop, if else statement and so on. I was super pumped with programming that I totally forgot to study for my subjects. But, luckily I could still manage as it was the first semester of the program. It was normally easy.

With that book, I understood the basic fundamental of programming language. I continued learning and expanded to C++. That's when I totally fell in love with programming. I started to understand the concept of Object Oriented Programming, Polymorphism, Abstracts and so on. Many people struggle that, but I found myself really fascinated to learn what programming can do.

My very first application I wrote was a simple personal finance management software in C++, just to help myself manage spending. I remembered spending hours, days and nights, coding it. It wasn't a GUI application. It was a classic terminal based. It was really fun creating it.

I then went beyond C++. I was recommended a platform called Codecademy, where I learnt Java. I then moved onto web technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP. There is one YouTube channel called PHP Academy (now Code Course) that helped me a lot. I was so in love with web technology because I could actually build something that can be visualised and shared on the Internet. That was really awesome. I spent more time learning programming than studying for my semester. So, I failed my English test and had to do an IELTS for replacement in order to advance to my first year. More story about that next time.

"Find an inspiration, find a passion"

I got my biggest inspiration from a movie called The Social Network, the story about Mark Zuckerberg and creation of Facebook. It is my favourite movie of all time.

In my first year as an electrical engineering student, we had to do some programming courses such as C/C++ and Matlab. Many people struggled to understand the concept of programming. But, I was just so prepared and it wasn't too hard for me. While I was supposed to study for my subjects, I was too busy writing code. That's when I realised that what I want to do is building a software. I found my passion, but I wasn't so sure what's next.

"Pursue your passion"

The biggest change happened when I first arrived in Australia in 2015 to continue my study at the University of Newcastle. I found myself grew a lot faster and bigger than I thought. I made the best decision in my life. Yes, I decided to pursue my degree in Software Engineering. My life has just begun.

At that time, I have already had a really strong foundation and better understanding in programming. Doing software engineering is just really exciting. Although I have a background in programming, I was still lack of some important computer science context like data structure and algorithm.

With my experience in programming and pet projects I built, I was fortunate enough to land my very first job as a software programmer in my second year of University. In fact, that was my very first job in my life. I worked there till I graduated in 2019. Through many interviews and rejections, I began my journey as a full-time Software Engineer.

Graduated from University of Newcastle 2019

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