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From a psychology degree to a software engineer at Avanade

  • Posted on May 19, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

When I started university in 2013, I saw my future as pretty clear cut: I would major in Psychology to supplement a career in medicine, study for the MCAT and attend medical school.

However, somewhere between my junior and senior year, I became less and less attracted to a future in medicine, mainly due the frustration and anxiety that stemmed from putting 110% of my time and energy into the prerequisite courses needed to take the MCAT and still feeling like I was going in circles. The process to get to medical school felt mechanical, since a great deal of the information relied more on memory and regurgitation and less on actual problem solving and creativity.

Around this time is when I started learning to code using Code Academy. I didn’t have a real reason for starting, but at the time “coding” was a buzzword that kept popping up everywhere. I started with HTML and web development and realized that I was more immersed in learning how to create something useful than I was in chemical and biological sciences. I found myself more committed to learning how to code and about coding and software engineering than getting into medical school, and I felt more myself doing so.

Since I have a bad habit of starting something and completing it fully, I decided to return to school and go back for a second bachelor’s degree. At that point, it only made sense to submerge myself into the field via a second bachelor’s since I wanted a more well-rounded education than what a bootcamp may have been able to provide.

Around this time, I attended “An Afternoon with Avanade” event for Brooklyn College students hosted by Shikshya “Six” Khatiwada at the New York office. At the time of the event, I didn’t know anything about tech consulting, but I knew almost instantly that between the welcoming environment, innovative projects and emphasis on learning and collaboration that Avanade was where I wanted to work following graduation. Oddly enough, I hadn’t considered an internship, let alone employment, at the time of the event, but I ended up accepting a Software Engineering internship in the summer of 2020 and now work at Avanade full time!

It might seem like a total 180-degree to change from psychology to software engineering, but I think studying psychology helps me be a better coder and consultant. A few main takeaways I received from my time as a psychology major are:

  1. Keep an open mind: Keeping an open mind helps me be a little less judgmental towards others and maintains my curiosity as a developer by being open to learning opportunities, even if they don’t seem fast-paced or “exciting” at first.
  2. Ask questions: Asking questions pauses the propensity to instantly take information at face value and helps facilitate learning by being my own advocate for additional clarification.
  3. There’s a best solution, but there’s never truly an only solution: This can be applied to life in general, but at work, it means using the tools at hand to lay out my options and then deciding based on the criteria.

Of course, it’s not a linear process to keep these points in mind but having them serves as a grounding point when I need to regroup and rethink my approach to people and projects.

My college journey may have taken a little longer than some, but I’m proud of myself for following my instincts and finding a career path that lets me be creative and solve problems, and I’m grateful that I get to do that Avanade. Needless to say, I pinch myself every morning knowing that I get to continue to develop my skills while working with an amazing group of people at the place where I genuinely wanted to be.

Aly Thurman

Very encouraging post! I graduate with a degree in psychology in 2020 but I keep finding myself gravitating towards software development. I want to start moving into the CS world more, so I googled "can a psych major be a web developer" and I came across this beautifully written post. Thanks for writing this. 

October 27, 2021

Togukazi Balfour

Thank you so much for this post. it has encouraged me. I am a 28 year old psychology honours graduate and I am very interested in software development. Therapy is definitely not for me because I too crave novelty and problem solving. I have used code academy but I feel going back to school for a well rounded experience and accredited degree is better. I am also looking into Engineering psychology. Once again, thank you so much for this. you wrote this for me.  

October 25, 2021

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