How I got into Computers and Information Technology?

This is quite an interesting and a bit long winded story of how I got into the computing field.It was the late 1970s when I was deciding which university I should go to. I had a passion for science and academia, and an aversion to humanities and math. At various points since middle school, I was into chemistry, biology, astronomy and botany. I also read about molecular biology, which was very fascinating to me.Trouble is, all this did not mean any kind of meaningful job in Egypt, apart from research and academic studies, which was tough to get into, due to only the first one or two top of the class being offered teaching jobs, and in some years, none at all.The high school system at the time in Egypt required that one selects either the humanities track (literature, philosophy, linguistics, geography, history, ...etc.) or the science track (math, physics, chemistry, biology, ...etc.). Then in the second year, the science track parted into two sub tracks: Engineering (Math, Computer Science, Civil, Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, ...etc.) and Biosciences (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Chemistry, Physics, Biology).Since I did not like math one bit then, because of not so good teachers in algebra and calculus that caused me not to like it much. Therefore, I selected the Bio-Science sub track, and this effectively shut me off from Engineering (and computer science) early.My mother was keen on making a surgeon out of me, but again, I hated hospitals, and was too soft for seeing people suffer. I saw how doctors turn this into a job, and get desensitized towards others, and call them "case" instead of "patient". I did not even like how the hospitals smelled (that disinfectant small made me cringe). I also hated needles from when I was a kid, and could never do anatomy on a cadaver no matter what, a requirement for medical study.I really wanted to do research in botany at the time, and wanted to be an academic.After considering being a dentist for a short while, I discounted that as well, because of the required anatomy of the head and neck, and doing surgery on patients too.When I graduated from high school, my marks were high enough to admit me into medicine, dentistry, or any other bio-science type of university. My family would not accept botany at all, and a compromise was reached to go into pharmacy, since it has lots of botanical studies too.Well, I made it to the Faculty of Pharmacy, at Alexandria University and graduated with good marks. I was hoping for an academic career in research. However, that did not happen. My rank was 11th on a class of about 300, and only 8 were selected to go as academic university staff. This was in the early 1980s.After working as a retail pharmacy for about three months, I was convinced that such a boring and routine kind of job is not for me. You can read more about why being a retail pharmacist is a bad career choice.The year before, I was introduced to computers via a relative's Texas Instruments TI 99/4A, then I got my own Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and learned BASIC on it.So, I quit that boring job, where my brain is not challenged at all. It was common to call pharmacists "clean grocer" in Egypt at the time.I joined the semi-governmental organization that provides health insurance. They were about to embark on a major computerization project, which was paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contractors were Price Waterhouse (later Price Waterhouse Coopers or PWC), and NCR Corp. Both American companies.Anyway, I got courses on Introduction to E.D.P. (Electronic Data Processing, which was what is now Information Technology was called then), Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Operations, Systems Analysis and Design, and much more. I was among a group that was sent to the U.S.A. (St. Louis, Missouri) to continue training, and help develop the system with Price Waterhouse. A lot was learned on this trip.After coming back and working for a few years developing more skills and experience on system administration, programming, troubleshooting, on mainframes, and on personal PCs, and early LANs, it was finally time to leave the government job, since there was no future nor motivation there. I ended up joining NCR Corp. in Saudi Arabia at the recommendation of NCR Corp. Egypt staff.And, as they say, the rest is history.

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Comments

what a coincidence?!.......Some Help

Peace be upon u ,Mr.Khalid
My name is walid(or waleed)..
the same happens for me now.
I am a pharmacy student.I love this field .
But after 4 yrs studying in this field , i faced a terrifying truth (at least only for me).
Biefly, Truth of How Pharmacist looks like in our society.

At the same time of joining the pharmacy field , i began to know about computer programming.
Starting from VB then C++ and finally X-86 Assembly.

I was attracted somehow to this field.
I felt that this exactly wut my mind needs.
I went deeper and deeper in this field , im now
doing some research in Computer Security world.
Spending hours searching for BOfs ,design errors.
SomeTimes i forget wut is my field.

Now both fields conflict.

My friends even hate the idea of wasting hours in front of my PC.(So guess wut it will be with my parents).

I think u r the first one i meet with the same problem(if it is really a problem)

Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.

Salam, I just felt you are

Salam,
I just felt you are talking about me :)
Me too I still waste alot of time on programs self learning and many searches on computing field, but I still consider myself an amateur and I still love the idea of being a professional and I don't mind it..
Actually I don't mind changing the career one day and I believe that after graduation there will be enough time to do alot of changes in my life to the better whatever it is.
About the society and how they look for pharmacists, excuse me who the hell care!! the ignorance percentage in Egypt is so big ! and the uncultured are more and more..
I love and appreciate my country but I still believe in what I'm doing so don't even care for the society opinion we are living in as long as you are on the right way.

re: what a coincidence?!.......Some Help

Mr.Walid

by the way, u're not alone, am a graduate from alexandria pharmacy, and i already know 3 of my friends who have joined ITI 9-months scholarship to start studying computer programming, and their grades went from very good to excellent in pharmacy :), as for me, I'm very considering this step may be next year

please i need advice

Mr. Khalid

I'm a graduate of 2008 class of alexandria pharmacy, actually i thought about changing the careers since day one of graduation !! but the problem is I don't know where to start ??, the thing is, i'm really attracted to computer field, but my actual knowledge of it is actually ZERO, all i know is i just want to learn more about it.

I heard there's a chance to join a 9-month scholarship program at the ITI "Information Technology Institute" http://www.iti.gov.eg/ , this won't start till next september

my question is, is that institute is a right start for me to study computer and get into IT career, or will that just be a complete irrational step due to my zero computer knowledge ?

and if it's not too late for me to start, what should I do, read, study or take which course till that scholarship starts on september ??

I'd appreciate your help, thanks alot :)

how to make the change

I love yur story!! im a pharmacy graduate from new zealand who has been unemployed now for 3 months. I cann't find a job!! but i also hate retail pharmacy!! i hate pharmacy here full stop!! im looking into changing careers, so many of my class mates are now back in university studying medicine and denistry after pharmacy but i don't want to do that. Im thinking of doing information technology but everyone around me is not being supportive at all. How do you make the change when no one supports you in this decision? not even my own husband is supporting me.