Answering Frequently Asked Questions I get About Computer Science
There were many things I felt curious about while I was studying Computer Science in college. Was I struggling the “normal” amount? Did I choose the wrong major? What opportunities could I have after graduation? Do Cs really get degrees?
Today, it’s important to me to be as transparent about my Computer Science journey as possible; to share with others information that would have really helped me in the past.
So, here you have three of the most frequently asked questions I get as a Computer Science major turned software engineer, directly from my Instagram DMs.
”Did you ever feel like Computer Science was too hard?”
Yes. Absolutely. Probably, every single day.
My first semester of college, I was so excited to study Computer Science. Since I had been coding for a couple of years already I felt confident I could tackle CS as a major, and enrolled in an introductory class. To my surprise, I found it very difficult. I ended up receiving a C.
I felt like a failure; like everybody else knew what they were doing and I was in the wrong place. So, I switched my major.
Eventually, after a couple of semesters studying Economics, I switched back into Computer Science, happily receiving several more Cs along the way. My return came from the fundamental realization that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean I—or you—can’t do it.
Struggling in coursework is a universal feeling not at all unique to Computer Science. Remember that one, you’re not the only one struggling and, two, you can still do it. Me and my 3.1 GPA graduated on time, found a great job after graduation, and are doing just fine. You will be, too.
“How do you recommend learning to code?”
One of the wonderful things about Computer Science is that learning coding skills has become extremely accessible via the internet.
My best recommendation is doing practice problems online (and for free!) on HackerRank.com. This is an excellent resource where I was able to both practice existing coding skills and pick up new ones. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or prepping for coding interviews, HackerRank should be your best friend.
Another method I used to learn to code was watching YouTube tutorials. I had the idea of coding an iOS application, and watched beginner tutorials on YouTube to understand what software I needed to download, what language I needed to use, and how to get started.
Even today, after coding for over ten years and working full-time in software for over two years, Googling how to do things is a normal part of my day. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Rather, use the free resources at your disposal—Google, StackOverflow, HackerRank, YouTube Tutorials—to learn and master new coding skills.
“What made you think Computer Science was for you?”
There were many points throughout college when I didn’t think Computer Science was for me. First, when I initially switched my major. Second, every time I received a C in a class (which, to my dismay, was many times). Third, when I’d walk into lecture halls and be one of few women, or feel like I didn’t fit in.
What ultimately kept me going was simple—I actually enjoyed coding. I initially fell in love with coding because it let me create things, whether they were One Direction Tumblr websites, iOS applications, or video games. It was really exciting to see my ideas come to life with code. It still is.
Today, what I really love about Computer Science and technology is how it can be intersected with really any industry. So much of our world leverages technology: from fashion companies selling products via websites, to sports teams using analytics, to entertainment companies streaming movies and TV online, to airplane controls…
Whatever your interests are, Computer Science can intersect with them. Figuring this out—specifically, my passion for fashion trend analytics—helped me realize that tech was a field I could pursue and thrive in. I encourage you to find the intersection that fulfills you.