It is now 6 years that I study in tech. I spent 3 years at Cégep in Computer Science, and I am currently finishing my third year in Software Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). During all these years, I don’t know how many times I have been asked: “What are you going to do when you graduate?“ What do you like about computers? “. I never knew what to answer.
These questions have always scared me because it’s scary when we face the sad reality: I do not know. I do not know what I like about computers. One might almost wonder, but why am I in computer science, if nothing lights me up that much?
Fortunately, I did not often tell myself I was not in my place in tech because of these questions. I always knew that I was feeling good where I was, I was surrounded by good motivating and inspiring people, who help me to go beyond my limits, and that was enough for the moment…
But studies, it ends one day. And after? What am I going to do next?
The quest for the perfect job
I think one of the big reasons I had this questioning about my future for so long was because I had very high expectations for my future career. I saw my parents take a job they love, but not that much. I wanted more.
I have always wanted a job where I would be as happy to come in the morning to the office as to go home at night. Is it possible to love working as much as spending time with family?
And then, at Women Techmakers Montreal 2018, something happened in me. I realized while listening to one of the talks that life is not so complicated. I don’t need to have such high expectations.
It’s what I had in mind, always looking for the ideal, perfect job. I think we have to let go a little, and I decided to stop having such high expectations.
I will do everything I can to find the best job possible for me, but I’m not sure a job can ever be perfect. I will enjoy what I have and appreciate it.
I will do what I can to enjoy my work, although I will be happy to come home at night, as the majority of the population, I believe. It’s OK.
How to find your true passion
My pieces of advice are not a magic recipe that will immediately allow you to find your path or career, but here’s what I did and helped me stay the course of the unknown for 6 years.
Choose the most varied internships possible
I may have played a dangerous game, but it has always worked in my favor… To choose my internships, I always applied to those where I had the least experience in the technologies listed. Since I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, I thought it would be beneficial to me.
Apply to internships in web development only because that’s all we know, involves getting the label “web developer”. I did not want it to be my case, I didn’t want any label.
So I ended up seeing a little bit of everything. ERPs, mobile applications, websites, I worked in a startup, a mid-size company… I only have a multinational company left to try. I wanted to do everything, see everything!
I think that helped me a lot because I can now say that I found these areas of activity great, but there was never this passion inside of me that I get when I work on my blog, for example.
Believe in yourself
Sometimes we close doors, opportunities, just because we do not believe in ourselves and our abilities. We are afraid of failure, we are so scared of making a wrong decision, we are not good enough… The list is long.
It’s too easy to compare yourself to others. Especially in computer science where everyone can have so much different knowledge from one person to the other. Some acquire new knowledge online, at home, others prefer to learn only during classes in class, etc. One must quickly learn to accept this peculiarity of studying in technology. We are all different, and we each have our strengths and weaknesses.
It is not because a friend has more knowledge in several subjects (or in everything!) That it is impossible for you and me to reach this level as well. Just work, practice and a lot of studying to acquire more knowledge and achieve our personal goals that we set ourselves!
In short, to believe in yourself is to think that you can do everything you want. It does not matter if it’s difficult if it seems impossible to reach for now. If you put work, effort, everything is accessible!
Keep an open mind
You don’t know a tech word? Write it down!
For over a year, as soon as I had a technical conversation with someone and I did not know some of the terms used by my interlocutor in the conversation, I wrote it down in a Trello board. It was my way of making a list of things I do not know and would like to know one day.
I think it helped me to always keep an open mind, be ready to learn about technologies that were unknown to me at the time, and who knows, maybe find out what I like about computers?
These past few months, I was getting discouraged at times and telling myself that I would have to settle for less. In other words, to hold a job, I do not really like, in a field that has never brought me dedication or ignited my passion.
But I had a revelation …
The revelation… I found what I want to do in life
I must admit that after 6 years of searching for my passion, to ask myself why am I here, studying software engineering, I finally found what I want.
I’m a little scared to say it out loud and then realize I was all wrong, but hey, it’s been 6 years, right? It might be time to dive… What is the worst that can happen? That I am wrong? And the best? That I finally found what I want to specialize in and what makes me want to get up in the morning…
I want to do machine learning. Artificial intelligence.
I want to change the world, improve it, understand it, analyze it, compute it …
I finally feel like I have a challenge to overcome that will take me a LOT of time.
But as I wrote at age 18, in my description in my portfolio at my university: “I go forward to challenges with a smile.”
So…. let’s go!!! 😀
I think your approach is great and it will evolve as you progress through your career. I lost heart when I stopped enjoying my work in marketing and realized I wanted to work for myself doing my own thing. I now work with my partner running a cloud hosting business and plan to do some work with charity. AI is an exciting space to get into 🙂
Hello Liz! I agree with you 🙂
We’ll see how I feel when I graduate and done with university haha 🙂
That’s amazing you were able to change your job and start a new adventure with your partner! 😀
Marie, it’s just crazy how much I relate with you. You make this daunting world of tech look so human like that it feels like an achievable goal. Lately I’ve been very confused with my future too, I’m an electronics undergraduate student but I realised I love computers more, yet if someone asks me what I like in computers… I do not know, it just makes me happy and when I see people working on their IDE’s or computer builds, I just feel like a kid in a candy store, it all makes me so happy, when I see new technologies I’m left gaping in awe. Then again I don’t want to be labeled either, I want to try everything but I don’t know if its possible. I enjoy the business and non technical aspects of dealing with people but I also want to try out everything in technology. However, I’m so used to being taught in the academic structurized learning rather than self learning that I’m not sure I’ll be able to try everything before I reach the end of my undergrad course. Then again, on the other hand I don’t want to be a burden or disappointment to anyone either so I can’t take up any internship with confidence without having atleast 40% knowledge in that field but even building that up and dealing with a full time undergrad course is all so much to take in!
Hey! I just wanted to say that you are a very humble and inspiring woman! I am a woman that recently landed a job in a major tech company, as a software engineer with little backgound on computer science (I come from electrical engineering), and I am overwhelmed by all the new terms and technologies to learn. I want to learn them all, and feel competent! It’s enspiring to read blogs like yours, seeing other women succeed in the same industry. We need more of you! Thank you for sharing
Thank you so much for this nice comment that warmed my heart! 🙂
I believe in you, I’m sure you will do well in this new job!
You really are an inspiring women! Thx for sharing this with us. I think this was something I needed to read, you’re amazing l. Greetings from Brazil
Thank you so much Kamilla!!