Unlike most of peers, I happened to have a monotonous and mentally taxing summer break. Why? Well, because I finally realized I was a computer engineering student and that I needed to know how to ‘code’, sigh. So, I joined a Programming course in C++ and slogged throughout my summer vacations with 4 hour classes, followed by extensive and mind boggling challenges to be completed as home assignments. While, I would agree that the course was advantageous for me and that it not only helped me enhance my programming skills, but also my mental aptitude with brain teasers, I still draw a blank when I think about what it is that I would want to be doing for the rest of my life. Even as I sit down and write this piece, my mind comes to a strange halt as I imagine myself coding in front of a laptop screen for the remaining years of my life because I am still unsure, as I was before joining the course, whether this is really what I am passionate about and want to be chasing after. After talking to many of my other batch mates about the same, I realized that no one actually really has any clue and most of the crowd is actually unaware that the technical field has much more to offer than competitive programming in C++ or Java.
And, so under the guidance of a few of my third year seniors, my exploration of what consists of the technical field began. And you will be amazed at the plethora of options that I discovered. From being web designers, network engineers to machine learning and exploring the deep realms of cryptography, there is plenty to learn and discover. I realized that even if one doesn’t wish to become a coder, there are still plenty of job profiles that they can apply for in the technical arena. For instance, Big Data is becoming increasingly popular and there is a growing need for data scientists and analysts. And the best part is this job profile does not involve high use of coding languages, but definitely requires the basics of SQL and offers a lucrative pay. Nowadays, firms also lay a lot of emphasis on the look of their product and how their users interact with it. That’s basically what a web designer’s job entails. Key skills required for such an individual are talent in designing and creating visuals as well as thorough understanding of programs being used to create them (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator). Now, who is responsible for the security, data storage and disaster recovery strategies for these huge establishments? Well, that is the role of a network engineer and this profile requires expertise in network knowledge, analysis and problem solving and the knowledge of Linux is very helpful. Mathematical Optimization is another interesting topic which may be delved further into. Basically, it involves modelling the question “What’s best?” and is also highly rewarding in terms of the job opportunities one gains access to. Apart from that, machine learning is also a fascinating topic which allows computers to find hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look. Further, you may have come across terms such as – “Algorithms”, “Networks”, “Computer Architecture”, “Database Systems”, “Operating Systems”, etc.. If you haven’t, pick one and explore! If it doesn’t capture your interest or ‘is-not-my-cup-of-tea’ type thing, rule it out but keep exploring and discovering the other available options. It is highly likely that you may have explored various programming topics and may have missed out on ones that you may be passionate about or extremely talented at, had you explored them.
I will conclude this article, by giving a final piece of advice which I was also given exactly a week ago – before you make your ultimate career choice, be sure to explore and try out everything that crosses your path. Stop being a ‘bhedh’ and coding for the sake of it or because you are a computer engineering student or because ‘that’s-what-most-people-in-my-class-are-doing’ (my very own excuses till last week). Take a moment, stop, explore and only once you are convinced of your choice and what you really want, does it make sense for you to further spend your time and energy in it. So go out there, explore, learn and expand your horizons.