Why did I decide to study Software Engineering?

A subtle case study on my journey to .self


My story starts off growing up on a military base in Germany, Ramstien Air Force Base to be exact. My father had been in the military for a while & with working on radar systems and air defense he picked up a knack for computer engineering. Like other young boys do I was at my father’s hip whenever he came home with a new piece of technology whether it was one of the first compaq presario’s or “Hewlett Packard” (before anyone called it HP). He showed me the ins and outs of building a computer from scratch, which piqued my interest in all things software wise as well. This coupled with my love of video games drove me to announce (since grade 5) that it was my dream to become a computer programmer and create my own video games.

College Life & Rediscovered passion

Skipping over High School where not much went on except puberty & the infatuation with the game of football; I started looking into what I would like to do in the future. There were always two subjects that stuck out the most to me: Biology & Computers. In my naïveté I figured that since I loved computers so much, it made more sense to go with Biology & Medicine as to not get worn out of “what was fun for me.” So I spent all of undergrad learning math, natural sciences & eventually all that was required for a pre-medical degree. I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) with a Bachelors of Science, beginning my journey into the throws of medicine. Meanwhile on the side (for fun) I ever so quietly continued my slow journey into computer science (as a hobby) I began to edit the video games I played with hex editors, create web pages for friends and also on the side. Picking up cosplay (costuming as your favorite superheroes) I coded elaborate costumes with C+ and built parts to carry out the processes. My parents & friends urged me to switch my major to computer science but, I figured patients are unknown variables bringing in new and engaging problems day by day and that there would always be a new virus, parasite, or bacterium that I would need to figure out the pathology of! Little did I know my passion for critical thinking, a plethora of new problems & learning how things tick would lead me right back to software engineering where I belonged in the first place.

Arriving at Flatiron

With my new degree I needed just a few more things to get into medical school; namely letters of recommendation from doctors I worked under, good MCAT scores, & a job in the medical field. So first chance I got I took of to Austin and started working in the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic to get started. Unfortunately what I found was not the brain-busting problems from new patients and the like, but the same mundane day to day bacterial infections, medicine refills and dis-heartened providers that seemed to have also just fell into their normal cycles. Still on the side I found myself making a few bucks here & there creating simple web pages for friends, family, church back home. I realized that I had it all wrong. What gave me peace, what quenched my thirst for learning, problem solving and critical thinking was software engineering. I enjoyed it so much I should have gone to school for it. Unfortunately that meant I would have to start all over again that is until I found an add on youtube for a coding bootcamp.

It was UTs program, but it started my research. I studied key concepts not knowing where to begin, applied and tested but missed out. Disheartened I came back to my apartment & walked my dog, landing at the local dog park with another neighbor. What ensued next was the normal amount of chit-chat & small talk, that is until he asked what I do for work. I gave him my spiel on how i’m currently at the VA, but something told me to ask him what HE does. Which to my surprise was exactly what I was interested in; Software Engineering. He told me he went the non-traditional route & that he’d send me a few programs he’s known got their graduates not only equipped for their new profession but also had adequate job placement rates. I looked into the top schools in the nation & finally had my final two options narrowed down. General Assembly & Flatiron, General Assembly couldn’t handle my full time work schedule & their statistics/ portfolio projects didn’t land with me. So I scheduled an interview with Flatiron and through talking with my personal Flatiron rep for just a few minutes, I knew where I needed to be. So fast forward a few months, a pandemic, and my first experience working at a start-up and now I’m hungrier to learn more concepts, and code bases than ever!



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Charles Butler Jr

Charles Butler Jr

Pre-Med student turned software engineer. Hoping to make code make sense & make sense out of all my code.