This week, I’ve decided to be adventurous and adopt the nomadic lifestyle. The nomad is a member of a people or tribe (read: tribe CS major) that has no permanent abode (read: I only go back to my apartment to shower and nap) but moves about from place to place (read: company events), usually seasonally (read: around career fair time) and often following a traditional route or circuit according to the state of pasturage or food supply (read: free pizza and Tiffs Treats).
When I was a sophomore in high school, I wanted to get involved with biology research. So I found a professor who was working on something I found interesting, reached out to his lab, and asked if I could do an internship there for a summer. Turns out I couldn’t—I was 15 at the time, and regulations dictate that anyone touching the lab equipment has to be at least 18 years old (or, in very special cases, 16 with a boatload of waivers signed). So research that summer was a no-go.
Let me explain how my life is going- I am drowning in a sea of schoolwork. Literally. The other day I woke up with Hindi vocabulary flashcards under my pillow and Operating Systems notes tangled with the quilt at the foot of my bed. Hence, literal drowning. That same day, I made it halfway down the elevator before I realized that I had my TI-84 in my hand and not my phone.
You might want to call me a nerd at this point.
I kind of want to call myself a nerd at this point.
But, please – don’t.
When I look back on something that I’ve done that I’m proud of, I usually do a little involuntary post-mortem exercise involving a series of simple questions. What did I learn from this? What did I wish I’d learned? How would I do it differently given the same opportunity? And among more specific questions, why did this work out for me? What were the things I did? The places I went? But most importantly who were the people involved? As much as I’d like to think I've created my opportunities all by myself, I know that I only occupy a tiny sliver of the pie chart of reasons for my success.
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft had a lunch for Turing Scholars in the GDC. It was an interesting experience — pretty standard as far as lunches go, with free pizza predictably running out in 20 minutes, a couple of tables with different conversations clustered around a visiting engineer or recruiter, and of course, the perennial problem: no one-on-one time available to talk to the recruiter.
This summer I had an opportunity to work in a dual role as a software developer and a systems analyst. Being the indecisive person that I am, this setup was perfect for me.
I am in the sad business of NOT being a tea-drinker or a coffee-drinker. So you can see my problem: As my already exorbitant workload forces me into becoming a nocturnal creature, I have nowhere to turn, to keep me up at night. Yes, it’s only been a few weeks since the semester has started, but my initial energetic, squirrel-like excitement has been reduced to the excitement of squirrel droppings. I’ve already had multiple urges to abandon all pretense of a healthy lifestyle and consume large quantities of chocolate cake while binge watching Netflix. It’s a sad state of mind.
I’ll come out and say it: programming is cool right now. And as much fun as it is to be a tech hipster, I have to admit that before I got to college I couldn't've cared less about coding and was actually slightly afraid of computers. (My $300 Toshiba would take so long to boot up I ended up writing a comical number of my college application essays on my phone.) I was lucky enough to transfer into computer science in the Fall of 2013 right before things got weird (refer to the remnant steam in the UTCS Facebook group for more details). So I wasn’t here before it blew up.