Discovering My Field
By Tina Huynh
My first memory of knowing what career path I wanted to take when I was younger was this: I was a small elementary school girl standing in the dark and cold backyard, looking up at her mother who was standing in the doorway. She had asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I answered, “I don’t know…I want to build stuff, or…something with computers.” And, even though I was told my vision for my future was only for men, it felt right.
My next memory when I had gotten my first iPhone. I was in middle school at the time and had run across the house as the new update came out. Lying on the ground with my parents, looking at my newly updated phone to see all its new quirks, I smiled brightly and claimed, “I want to be the people who make all these new updates!” I didn’t know what field it was called. I didn’t know what job title it would be. I simply knew I loved the creativity, the flexibility, and the pride in the work I imagined I would do.
Society’s influence had me following the path of a pre-medical student since 2012 starting with volunteer work with Gifted Students Academy at UCI. But even though I wanted to become a doctor at a certain point in time, I knew something was missing. When I started a path in engineering in college, there was a lot more freedom for me to venture out and discover my true calling. I found computer science when it came up as a requirement for my engineering degree, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The second I started learning how to program, I tasted the passion, the potential, and the motivation I had been seeking for so long.
After discovering the field of computer science, I quickly changed my major and started venturing into the path of technology. In my eyes, software engineer is a flexible field that is multidisciplinary on a wider spectrum because of its ability to intertwine with countless of other fields. In terms of health, I think of advancements with robotic surgery and EKG scanning. In terms of law and government, I think of security and databases. In terms of arts, I think of front-end development of mobile applications and game development. The possibilities of careers I could venture into were endless, and I couldn’t wait to discover what else awaits behind these doors.
Despite having discovered the field I wish to devote the rest of my life towards building, I also understand the changes that need to be made within its walls. In 2014, only 18% of US undergraduates were women. Because of this gender gap, the female population is underrepresented in the development process of most of the technology we use in everyday life, and simply talking about it is not enough.
Exposing the younger generation to programming, computer science, and engineering alike at an earlier age with an encouraging, supportive, and passionate standpoint is the beginning of a movement. Engineering and computer science are fields doing massive changes in the world around us, that deserve to be shared about in all parts of the world. Everyone needs to hear about what they can get involved with, be a part of, and become.