My Journey from Finance to Computer Science
Back in my college days, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I chose to pursue Chartered Accountancy Course, which focuses on finance, accounting and taxation. It just seemed right at that time as everyone around me was doing the same, so I decided to become a sheep and follow along.
I was always fascinated by computers and rapidly emerging technology. I knew I would never be able to program something amazing myself as I chose to pursue finance and taxation, but still, that fascination was alive.
My academics kept me occupied, but I was not enjoying it. One day, a thought struck me: “Is there a technology I can use to automate all my non-intellect tasks?”
The seed is now sown, and my search for automation software started. I came across some amazing softwares like:
I spent hours learning how to use these apps and created some simple automation that saved a few minutes of my everyday life. I know I paid a hefty price for a bit of surprise, but it was fun, and I enjoyed every part of it.
It was going well, I had a hobby now, and I was enjoying building small automation macros until the next thought struck: “Well, I can do some fun stuff now and be the cool kid around. But the person who developed this app, what amazing things they might be capable of?”
Now the seed of programming started to sprout. I started searching for the most accessible programming language I could learn. After a lot of research, I decided to go with Python
Everything I needed to learn to program was just a google search away. Next few months, I watched some tutorials online, read some programming books and went through tutorial hell.
Tutorial hell is referred to as a time in your new developer journey where you are watching tutorials, able to follow along, and replicate what the instructor is doing, and it works.
I could follow along with the tutorial but kept failing when I tried to develop something independently.
I will never forget the day an interviewer made me feel like an idiot
As I was not considering altogether dropping my academics and opting for programming as a career, I decided to get a job in a local finance firm. I went for the interview and was quite proud to have some programming skills other candidates may not have, so I flaunted those skills on my resume. The interviewer asked me about some taxation laws, which I failed to answer as I do not have a photogenic memory. The mocking started when he noticed the flaunting skills on my resume. He called his colleague to the interview room, and they both enjoyed the roasting. They asked if I knew I came for an interview in a tax firm, not an IT company. He told me I should stop wasting my time playing with computers and start memorizing the laws that would help me work in a real office. Being a good samaritan, he offered me the job but substantially cut the advertised salary.
That interview gave me a lot to think about. I realized irrespective of being academically ready for the finance and taxation sector, I was still not prepared for the real office environment. I had to learn the practical aspect from scratch. I realized the only reason I was not considering programming as a career was that I had to learn everything from scratch, and it won’t be easy without a computer science academic background.
The delusion no longer exists, and at that time, I decided that if I had to learn both from scratch, I wanted to put all my energy into doing what I enjoy: programming.
First, I had to escape from the tutorial hell to make any progress in programming. I tried to think of project ideas I could work upon, but my imagination was limited.
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
– Arthur Schopenhauer
I was aware of a freelancing website Fiverr on which I signed up a few months ago. So I decided to borrow other’s field of vision for my project idea to escape tutorial hell.
I reached out to a few people with my crazy little pitch. I offered to work on their idea at a fraction of the cost they would pay if they hired any other developer for the same task, but I will take double the amount of time to deliver the project as I will learn and develop. After a few rejections, I found someone to bet on me.
Now, I was being paid to learn something I enjoy. Oddly, what I made with my first two gigs was roughly the same amount my interviewer had offered me to stop playing with computers and do a month of labor in the real office environment.
Now I was out of tutorial hell, and I had a source of unlimited ideas that I could use to polish my coding skills and get paid to do that. Though I no longer work on Fiverr, it was a good journey.
An overview of my progress tracked by Github contributions