So you want to be a programmer?

So you want to be a programmer?
Photo by James Harrison / Unsplash

Today, I have a rather peculiar story to share.

Four years ago I started a MSc in Information Technology, because I felt that everyone around me was loaded with degrees and I was lacking with my failed Philosophy and Political Science and questionable Media and Communications BSc. How I ended up in data and software engineering, is another story to tell inspired by the magic of a ZX81 involving for loops and space invaders in ascii.

After one year of studying, I gave up and forgot about it. The course was so far detached from reality, it was not only making my brain hurt but was also turning me into a green monster. If that university was a person, they would be suffering from mental derealization and would need some form of treatment. This very same course was where I "officially" started learning python from a book called Python for Everyone, which I now would under no circumstances - including a gun at close proximity to my eye socket - recommend to Anyone.

Anyhow, yesterday, three years after quitting, I received a letter that I graduated. It was my wife and not I that opened it because it was in a brown envelope and I was sh*tting bricks. If you live in the UK, you know this means legal or tax trouble or both for the ones that are either unlucky, tremendously stupid or even arrogant to the point of extinction. It transpired that I did nothing wrong, other than wasting a year's evenings in a pile of $h*t and a whole lotta money - probably excluding a semi interesting course in cryptography, only because the cryptography professor was of the highest calibre when compared to the rest of the losers that dared enter higher education with frozen lentils for brains. And for that self imposed misfortune, I say, I received my graduation credits inside a "feared from most" (excluding my wife that is not afraid of anything) coloured envelope that - and I repeat - did not open myself.

Well, guess what, I got myself a distinction. I did not try very hard, certainly did not like the content of the course and gained no knowledge whatsoever. When my wife announced my distinction with pride, I did not feel a thing other than surprise. Later on we laughed and laughed because it was so unexpected, a bit like winning the lottery but without the positive financial impact. Now, I have a post-graduate diploma with distinction to add to my LinkedIn profile, which admittedly, was the only true motivation for taking the course in the first place.

Here's the thing. My guess is that unless you are in a university that absolutely guarantees to spit out geniuses and you have a frame of mind that allows you to be moulded into one, it actually does not matter what you study, studied, or even if you studied at all.

If you know 100% for sure you want to be a programmer, maybe, just maybe consider surrounding yourself with others that too, are or want to be programmers, be inquisitive, take a risk, take a pay cut, beg, borrow and steal (code), feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and simply don't give up.