Anyone who’s ever had to make a meaningful choice in his life has at least asked for someone else’s advice. This is what happened to me at 18 during high-school graduation year.
I was lucky enough to get through high-school with good grades and got accepted to many schools. Among those schools were a french renowned “classe préparatoire” and a french-german law program at — yet another — famous law school. Now you might think: “That’s a good thing, right? 🤔“
Well, not so much.
You see, when I was 18, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
So while I couldn’t decide on my own, I went listening to people and asking them what they thought was best for me.
Everyone told me that I was made for the “classe préparatoire”: I had a great competition spirit, I was hard working and most of all eager to learn. That advice certainly helped, but not as you would expect.
“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being” — Albert Camus
Sometimes it doesn’t feel right to let people make important choices for you. It feels like you’re not in control of what you do. And that’s precisely what I thought at this time. I wanted to prove to myself that I was not who people thought I was. I was going to become a notary. And so I went to law school. ⚖️
Four years, several resit examinations, one repetition, and many disappointments later, it turns out I didn’t like law, and it repaid it well in return. I didn’t like the idea of having to learn so much by heart, the way students were most of the time obliged to agree with their teachers to get sufficient grades, and so on…
Now you might think: “That’s a bad thing, right? 🤔”
Well, not so much.
During all those years, I thought about what I wanted to do next.
Did I want to keep studying law? Would changing be worth it? What if I also disliked what I chose next? At that time I didn’t know this decision was way easier than I thought: doing something you have no idea you’ll like is better than doing something you know you don’t like.
Worst case scenario: you’ll end up doing something you don’t like either, but in return, you’ll get to know what you don’t want to do, which is more than substantial.
I didn’t like law. I didn’t like learning theoretical things. I didn’t like writing papers. With all that in mind, I decided to do something.
I sort of liked economics: why no try a business school? To get accepted into a good one, I had to prepare for entrance exams. The problem was: completing my law degree was mandatory, and I was quite far from it. I had to think about something else I liked, just in case.
That’s how I ended up applying for an IT school.
“Wait… What? You’re telling me it occurred just like that?
Why computer science? 😲”
- Yes and no.
- Why not?
- Why not?
Since high school, I loved being able to automate boring tasks, hacking things to get what I couldn’t get otherwise and get better and better at it. I always thought IT schools were intended for some kind of hardcore nerds, especially the one I wanted to get in. I eventually waited until a friend of mine — who also studied law — got accepted and understood that I was dead wrong.
☝️ No, not all girls at my school had blue hair and pink backpacks. I swear.
Many people told me computer science had nothing to do with law. That I had wasted four years of my life. That all I had done until then was for nothing.
Some others told me they admired such a radical change. That they wouldn’t have had the courage to do so.
The first ones were partly right: it has nothing to do with law. On the other hand, I met people I would never have met anywhere else, learned things I would never have learned otherwise and most of all: I knew way better who I was, what I liked and what I didn’t like.
A few months after making this decision, I got accepted into my IT school. 🎉And guess what: as of today, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Something that was a hobby suddenly became something that I could work on every day: create websites, make auto-booking bots, building the most successful casino game-beater… all those things I previously couldn’t take much time to learn were now makable.
If there’s one thing I learned from it, it’s that you never learn as much as when you’re passionate.
“So you changed from Law to Computer Science, and you liked it… Cool. But what’s your point ?”
One more thing and you’ll get it. ☝️
As I was still a student thinking about job interviews, I wondered how I could justify such a drastic change during my education. Most of my friends were right: this didn’t make sense, at least until I was approached by a french LegalTech.
Now here comes my point: it doesn’t matter if you fail. It doesn’t matter if you think that what you do is incoherent. What matters is what you are good at. Let me put it this way: I was not recruited for my legal skills, but rather for my programming skills. All I had done before wasn’t considered a failure but was an advantage over someone who had the same coding knowledge. It proves that I am determined to do what I like, that I am aware with regards to legal matters and that I’m patient amongst other things…
I’m now happy with what I got and about what I do. With some hindsight, I could have done things otherwise but I wouldn’t feel as satisfied as I am today.
If you’re not happy, I hope you can relate, use my experience in any way and figure out a way to get better.
If you are happy, I hope this first article inspired you and made you think a little differently about your past and future life decisions.