What was your major or field of study in college? Did you wind up working in that field or using that degree? If not, what field have you wound up in?
Submitted by sneuf.
When I was growing up as a child in Hong Kong, I was fascinated by the education programmes the government put on the TV in the afternoon. I kept watching the same maths and science programmes and amazed by how science seems to have an answer for every questions, or at least seemed that way to me back then.
So when it was time to pick the subject to study in university, there was never a doubt that I wanted to study physics. (Chemistry and biology are for wimps who can’t handle the maths!) I was (and still am) pretty handy with maths but some of the more abstract stuff bores me 🙂 Unfortunately this applies to physics too and when the last year of the course came around, I was more interested in computer programming than quantum physics, thermodynamics, and solid state physics.
But the analytical skills that the physics course had taught me had left me in good steed. It was exactly the right type of skills to have at the right time when I graduated. The computer industry started looking for scientists and engineers for programming jobs instead of just computer science graduates because we were perceived as more rounded.
So here I am, working as a software engineer with one of the leading edge software company in the US. Can’t be that bad, huh? I bet my uncle, who was actually a proper physicist and advised my parents against me studying physics, would have to eat some humble pie too.
What was (or is) your favorite subject in school?
When I was at school in Hong Kong my favorite subject was science, with maths a close second. I despised Chinese while English came quite nature to me. Strange for a Chinese but it's true. Then when I emigrated to the UK and progressed to A-Level, maths and science had swapped and maths became my favorite subject with physics second. I liked computer studies too because it is hi tech but at that time my mind was in the clouds of abstract mathematics and so I was no good at writing programs in BASIC. I did learn Pascal on my own and managed to write a rudimentary algebraic graph drawing program. Really I was more interested in computer games than learning it as a skill.
Then I went to uni to study physics and I enjoyed that very much in the first year. The maths was easy (the double maths A-Level I took prepared me for it) and really not much work was needed to get good grades. Then in the second and final years we got into the heavy shit; thermodynamic, solid state physics, etc. that involves statistical maths. I hated them with a vengeance, but since they are a very important part of physics I ended up not doing well in exams. It was then that I realized while I love the concept of physics I am crap at actually applying the theory. Around the same time I found that computer programming came very easy to me and I started taking more and more computing courses as my optional units to boost my average. It worked and I managed to graduate with a degree!
And this is how a physics graduate ended up working as a software engineer/developer/programmer. The road isn't that windy, really…