Tiffany explains how she discovered her passion for computing and her trials and tribulations in finding the perfect course and university.
I got my interest in computers and technology from my dad. When I was younger, I would sit and watch him with rapt attention for hours as he opened up the family computer, tinkering with it and upgrading components. However, pursuing a career in computer science never even occurred to me until I was in sixth form.
In high school, I went through all the usual motions of wanting to be a vet, a doctor, a teacher and so on. But it was only when I came to choosing my five AS levels that I realised technology was what I was really interested in; so I chose biology, French, English combined, critical thinking and ICT.
However, I found ICT to be too “fluffy” for my liking. What I’d really rather do is get down to the real nitty gritty of computer programming and how the different parts work. My sixth form was also a certified technology college, offering the more technical computing A level, so I swapped ICT for computing about one week in and never looked back.
It soon became clear I’d found my calling. I slipped easily into computing despite having never done anything like it before. I was always first to arrive in lessons, enthusiastically did my homework as soon as it was set and consistently came top of my class in tests. Incredibly geeky I know, but I just loved the subject so much.
So, when it came to choosing universities and subjects to study, I didn’t hesitate in researching computer science courses, much to the delight of my computing teachers who had high hopes for me. After a lot of comparing and contrasting, I narrowed my choices down to five: Bolton, Manchester Metropolitan, Leicester, Hull and Lancaster.
After looking more closely at my chosen five and attending some open days, I found I really loved Lancaster. It was situated on a beautiful campus, close to my hometown of Burnley, Lancashire, and performed well in computer science league tables.
My only issue was that I’d been looking for a sandwich course (two years of study followed by a year in industry, then a final year at university) as I felt the industrial experience would pretty much guarantee me a job at the end of my degree.
Unfortunately, Lancaster didn’t offer this type of course, although my four other choices did. I was stuck; did I swap my dream university for much needed work experience?
However, on a departmental visit day to Lancaster, I discovered they were introducing a new course for the 2010 intake: a four year course consisting of three years of study identical to the bachelors computer science course, followed by a final year made up of three industrial placements and a dissertation, which would in the end provide me with a masters degree.
It seemed too good to be true, so I immediately put Lancaster down as my firm choice and, after receiving three Bs and one A on results day, set off to Lancaster in the October of 2010.
So here I am, two years in to my course, studying my dream degree at my dream university. Computer science is no picnic, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.