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How This Engineer Fell in Love With Her Computer Science Career

Laura Medalia

Engineering Manager

I took my first computer science course when I was 16. I can remember sitting in the back row of a dingy classroom filled with about 20 students as my professor explained to us that in order for us to start computer science, we just had to accept a couple of abstractions. We dove into a world of objects and methods and logic, and I was fascinated.

I did not understand the entire world I was working with, but I picked up the concepts I needed to one at a time. I’m grateful that my professor set a precedent that you do not need to understand it all to start.

Solving problems

I find solving problems to be extremely fulfilling. I also love to build things. As I pursued my passion for problem-solving through set theory, calculus, and algorithms in my studies of computer science later in life, I discovered my second-favorite part of computer science: I could make products that solved problems I cared about.

Through programming, I could take an idea, such as an app that tracks your water consumption, and turn it into a product people can touch, interact with, and be impacted by. The journey from idea to product is a wonderful one. Getting to refresh a web page after you apply style changes and seeing your ideas painted out before you, or watching your algorithm predict the right search results for you, is incredibly fulfilling and fun.

A passion for computer science

And those are two of those reasons I fell in love with computer science. I feel challenged and stimulated by the problems I get to solve. And I feel empowered to change things in the world today through my ability to build technological solutions.

Also, building is a lot of fun! As a woman in tech, I wish someone had shared with me what a wonderful world this is when I was a young girl. I ended up reentering computer science late in the game because I was not exposed to the industry or the wonderful jobs and opportunities out there that allow me to build and solve important problems. As a result, I spent a lot of time catching up.

I wish I started studying computer science earlier. I also hope that young girls are introduced to the industry in the same way I was: with the expectation that they won’t know it all when they start. Technology a big industry, and it can be overwhelming to think about all that you do not know. But it is OK to not know it all to start, to have questions, and to make mistakes as you go. In fact, it is expected.

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