How did you determine which career path to choose in software engineering?

RE:

In my heart, I want to do data engineering since...

Listen to your heart / gut / whatever internal voice you argue with several times a day :) Do something that you enjoy doing, and not just something that pays the bills for you. I have always believed the mental health aspect of any job is vastly under-appreciated.

To answer your question more directly on how I got into software engineering, well, i wasn't exactly pushed into it, but i was definitely nudged in that direction. Back in the 80s, when I was growing up in a small suburban town outside Boston, I was the only person in the school at that time that had a physical disability. My parents and teachers all thought it was a good idea to get me a computer as I took longer to write things out than it did typing them, so the school bought and paid for my very own laptop (I believe it was one of the earlier Tandy models from radio shack). The next couple of years, I got to know a lot about computers, and I always assumed that when I got older, I would do something with computers.

Fast forward 15 or so years, and I'm starting as a freshman in the field of computer technology (a hybrid of computer science and computer engineering) and I got my first co-op job (essentially a paid internship) as a desktop support specialist. Up to this point, I was pretty good with computers, as well as programming, as I had self taught myself a lot. After a few months on the job, I was loving it and thought I would make IT my choice of profession once I graduated. I graduated and immediately joined a small (5-10 person) software company as an IT guy. But since I also had programming experience, I did some dev work for the company when things were slow, and I gradually started to like it more and more. After 7 years of this (I had reached as far as I could go as I was now the IT manager), I was feeling burnt out, and decided to make the switch to a full time web developer, and it was one of the best life decisions I ever made.

The point of this story is that you may think you know now what you want to do, but until you get in there and start doing it, you'll never truly know. Always keep an open mind, as others have pointed out, technology is always changing, and something may come out in a few years that'll blow your mind and you want to get into that!

Don't be afraid of change, sometimes it's the best thing to ever happen to you :)

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