I’ve been around technology and computers since I was small, as there was always a computer in the house. I’d play some kid games, and old-school flight simulators as a kid as I enjoyed the challenging aspect.
Later once I hit middle school I took some basic computer classes and realized “computers are the future” and determined that I’d probably focus on them as my career when I get older. Around this time I also tried to learn some basic programming fundamentals, but it was tough focusing and really getting anywhere with what I wanted to learn. I wasn’t able to find any friends or network of “other programmers”, so it was tough going.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually took learning to program seriously. At which point I finally had some access to peers and networking opportunities, which I tried to leverage as much as possible before I graduated.
At the same time as getting serious in college, I realized something else. To be the best software engineer means working with others, and learning other soft skills.
I ended up working night shifts at a fast food joint to not only get paid, but to just learn how to work. There I learned how a bunch of soft skills, like dealing with people, working with money, and working on a team. I found all of these soft skills to be helpful later.
I eventually took a job on campus, as it would work with my schedule and allow me to focus more on my studies while still getting paid, so I ended up working in basic IT where I’d interface with professors across the campus directly.
I consider those two jobs to be a key part of my later success, and even though they weren’t directly applicable, all their indirect experiences helped me dramatically when it came to the social aspects of work.
Ultimately being able to work and interact with others at work is a skill that can be just as important as your hard-skills.
I’d think about getting a part-time job, not necessarily for the pay if you don’t need it, but primarily for the “people exposure”. This sort of experience provides value in a physical sense (you get paid!) but also a non-physical sense, as you get the experience of just working. Computers are great and all, but they are ultimately just complex machines. It’s fellow humans and people who you’ll end up interacting with for whatever job you want in the future.
Sure it’s fine to go back to working on your computer in your free time, as people can be exhausting! But being able to work with others is part of every job at some level.