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I remember very clearly how alienating intro CS was in college. Everyone else knew what they were doing, and I'd never taken a CS class before.
The professor would say things like "if you know what arrays are, you can't use them" and everyone who took high school CS would groan and I'd be sitting there clueless like "guys what's an array"
At the end the lecturer said that if we get a B in this class, we will likely get a C in the second class and then fail the third, so we should probably just drop CS now. I had a B
I almost listened, and even though I got an A in the next course, I felt like I didn't deserve it.
Then I got into Google CSSI, a program for women and minorities in CS. And at Google, people just trusted me to do my own thing. That was really powerful. I came back believing in myself.
So I picked up CS as a minor. Eventually, a female advisor at Maryland convinced me that if I was going for the CS minor, it was not much extra work to take it on as a second major. I got straight As. I did an honors thesis in crypto. I wrote programming languages for fun
I got an internship at a local company writing C code. It came with a scholarship. Then I got an internship at Amazon. Then I got a job at Amazon. I stayed for 3 years and got promoted to SDE II. Then I left for graduate school.
Now I'm in my fifth year of my PhD in computer science at UW. I hope to become a professor when I am done.
So, thanks, @Google CSSI. Thanks, wonderful @umdcs advisors and and professors in my upper level classes. Thanks @carrastro for my first programming job. Thanks @amazon for three years of wonderful software engineering experience. And thanks @uwcse of course.
And if anyone out there is late to the field, don't let anyone scare you away.
This happens a lot for women, minorities, and people from less wealthy school districts, since we do not always have access to mentors and resources early on, and are rarely encouraged to take up programming as a hobby. It is a diversity crisis!
But it gets easier. I promise. Just believe in yourself.
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