Nearly anyone who has ever asked me about my thoughts on Silicon Valley culture has probably gathered that I have a pretty negative view of startups. It’s sad to me that anyone would go into computer science, a wonderfully exciting field, just to “get rich quick.” If you spend enough time at Stanford, you’ll become all too comfortable with hearing nauseating phrases such as “I’m looking for a technical cofounder for my VC-funded stealth mode startup.” (Of course, that was an exaggeration.) There are so many people who don’t see the excitement of computer science, and I’m okay with that–not everyone has to like CS. What bothers me is the idea that people force themselves to do something they’re not interested in when they have the means to do something else.
I didn’t want to study computer science when I came to college. The idea seemed downright frightening before I took an introductory class on a whim midway through freshman year. I don’t think my experience is unique — so many people avoid computer science out of fear only to realize that they almost missed out on something wonderful. There are so many ways misconceptions and myths about computer science unnecessarily discourage people from trying out this field. By explaining some of my own doubts and misconceptions, I hope this will provide a window into the minds of those of us who are or were afraid of computer science. Continue reading
I’m going to describe something that I have felt over and over since I started college. I think we’ve all experienced it at one point or another: that feeling of inadequacy and intimidation upon seeing a peer’s work and feeling stunned because it seems so far beyond our capacities. It’s especially present in computer science because everyone is at a different level of experience and because we, as a group, keep obsessing over the “child prodigy” archetype. I look at a friend’s project and feel overwhelmed because it looks so beautiful and advanced and I have no idea how I would have done it. I look at another friend’s resume and see that it lists twenty different programming languages — meanwhile I only feel vaguely comfortable with three (Java, C++, C, amirite). Everyone around me knows so much about topics that I don’t know about and I feel like I won’t ever catch up.