Mahima Bhayana: From Life Sci to Computer Sci


Year of Study: 3rd

Campus: Scarborough

Major(s): Double Major in Computer Science and Statistics

Clubs: N/A

Interests: animation, photography, filmmaking, music, technology

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mahima since 1st grade. From being a kick-ass activist and photographer to avid Harry Potter fan, this girl is one of the most hardworking and admirable people that I know. After her first year at the University of Toronto studying life science, Mahima decided that the program wasn’t for her. Instead, she decided to switch to a program that she felt would provide her with more benefits – computer science. If you’re an undergraduate considering changing your program of study, read some of Mahima’s answers about her shift down below.

What made you decide to change your program from life sciences to computer science?

I realized by the end of my first year that I no longer wanted to become a doctor, as I had planned to when I started university. I then started taking courses towards a statistics major because I had really enjoyed my first-year math courses and ended up really enjoying my first-year computer science class as well. I’d always been very interested in technology, and I found the skills that I would learn through CS and Stats courses to be much more valuable to me than those I would learn in life sciences. The switch then, although in part was because of the better career options that would come with a computer science degree, was largely because I found so much fulfillment in challenging myself in CS and Stats, and I felt like I was learning a lot more.

What benefits does a computer science provide you over a life science degree?

Computer science degrees have an advantage when it comes to the job market—looking at CLN alone, there are many developer/programmer jobs currently posted. Employment rates are high for computer science graduates, and average salaries are also relatively high. Other than that, I think “benefits” are very subjective. Personally, I really liked the community of developers I was introduced to. Many CS kids are developing and working on projects outside of the classroom, and many of them are constantly learning about new technologies on their own – I really admire the love for learning and the passion I’ve seen in my classrooms, as well as external events for CS students. I’ve also been introduced to hackathons, which are social coding events, usually over a weekend dedicated to building a project from scratch. The Computer Science community is something that was a big plus for me.

What advice would you have for other students thinking about switching programs?

Try out some courses from the program you’re looking at, and really think about what you want to get from your university degree and what skills you think would be most important to you.

Now that you have switched programs, how do you feel? How are things different than before?

I’m very happy! I’m quite challenged and often stressed, but I do feel a real sense of fulfillment and achievement from really learning my course material. I also see the value in what I’m learning now, which was something I struggled with in life sciences.

Bonus: One thing that fascinates me about you is that you have been a vegetarian your entire life (for religious/cultural reasons). I frequently ask you this, but would you mind telling readers, as a person who has never tasted any form of meat before, what does it smell like to you? How does it appeal to your senses?

I grew up with a mother who was very averse to the smell and the look of meat, and naturally, she passed that on to me. I do find the smell rather unappealing, but much less so than I did when I first came to Canada. I’ve grown used to being around meat, but the idea of consuming it myself doesn’t appeal to me at all. Even the meat-like appearance of the inside of a veggie dog still doesn’t feel right.