Susan Sim began her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto in an arts program, using computers to do her homework. She initially thought that programming and hardware were mysterious and somewhat complicated, and wondered if she could really benefit from using them. In her second year, while watching her boyfriend working on a computer science assignment, she thought to herself, "Hey, I can do this!" She taught herself to program over the summer, and, that fall, she enrolled in an introductory computer science course. Susan said, "I enjoyed the course and did well but I wanted to learn more. So I took another in the next term, followed by another..."
Her psychology background led her to a summer job in human-computer interaction in the Computer Science Department. That led to a career choice: "Often while working in the lab, my machine would break down. Faced with the options of having no machine to use or fixing it myself, I chose the latter. I developed a reputation for fixing machines, which earned me a permanent paid position in the lab." Her current job as system administrator is to make sure the lab functions smoothly, which involves looking after both users and machines. People come to her when their computers don't work properly, and she helps them sort out their software and hardware problems.
Susan found that her most significant assets were her arts background and people skills and that they more than offset her lack of direct experience. She picked up her most useful skills, such as organizing, communicating, and problem solving, by baking, doing crossword puzzles, and participating in student groups on campus. Susan completed her psychology degree this year and will be continuing her undergraduate studies in computer science at the University of Toronto. She is planning on a career in systems research. In her spare time, she paints, helps run a bulletin board system, and participates in a multi-user dungeon game.