Daniel Mai

Why Computer Science?

I’m studying computer science at San José State University. Why I am, I’m not quite sure. “Because I like it” could be my answer, but that’s shallow and vague. “Because I’m good at it”? Hmm… that’s not a good answer either; I only have experience with the introduction courses. Being “good at it” isn’t possible to say if I don’t have a lot of experience.

I’m enjoying the basics of programming and I’d say that I’m good at it. But wait a second, I just said programming, not computer science. There’s a difference. Unfortunately, this difference also determines the pool of occupations that I will be able to do (and hopefully enjoy). I also said basics. I haven’t gone deep into the territory of software engineering, which includes massive projects, distribution, and all the other stuff like user interface and user experience. I haven’t delved into the advanced courses of the CS program in school. Maybe I won’t do well in those courses. Maybe I’m not meant to be in the information technology industry. Should I change before it’s too late?

Maybe it’s too early for me to call it quits. I’ve only finished one year (two semesters) of college, which is essentially nothing. I’ve only dipped my feet into the water; I have no significant experience.

I applied for a CS tutoring job a couple of months ago and the first thing they mention from my résumé is that I’m “not graduating until another three years.” I’m told this with negativity. Being a student is a hindrance to a company, especially one who has no knowledge whatsoever (because one year of college is meaningless).

I went to a mixer for a consulting company and the employees assumed that I was a graduate student. After I told them “no,” they assumed I was about to graduate within the year. After correcting them again and saying that I’m just a freshman, “Oh” is their next response. I’m totally useless as a first-year college student.

I don’t want to be useless. I want to work and have an income so that I am not a parasite in my family. I want to use what I already know and make use of it.

I don’t want to be constrained by college. I don’t want to be generically defined by my years of academics and the classes I’ve taken. I’m more than who I am academically.

I say this, but the first job I’ve gotten is due to my work new as a student. My professor wouldn’t have hired me if it wasn’t for what I did when I took his class. Getting high marks and participating a lot in the class made me noticeable.

Apparently, I can do a lot with what I’ve learned so far, whether from school or from my leisure.

But, in the end, I enjoy this subject because I get to understand a little bit more about how these pervasive machines work, and how I can command them to do what I want to do. Someday, I hope to leave a dent somewhere in the universe. How and when that will happen I’m not quite sure.