IT'S NOT EASY to land a degree in the area where you planned to venture in the first place. The universe and its polymorphic laws can often ensure that you end up in a different place from where you initially endeavoured to go. Circumstances such as being dismissed from your programme or failing your A-levels can also disrupt original decisions and force you to take a different route to your destination. If you persevere and strive to reach your goals from a different direction, you will find that your experiences will leave you far more capable and well-rounded than you might expect. Veronica Yiu's unintentional studies in computer science began when she was not accepted into any of the business programmes she had planned to enter. Unfazed by the rejection, she carefully reappraised her situation and chose to pursue computer science as she saw that she could employ her strengths in calculation and analysis. Three years later, the 24-year-old, who studies computer science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has become the envy of other postgraduates everywhere by completing an internship with the Hong Kong division of Microsoft. Ms Yiu's independent thinking and initiative led her to apply for an internship placement at Microsoft. 'The company is very careful about who they choose for the internships. They must have the right fit for them since everyone is already good at what they do,' said Ms Yiu. She applied through her school's career centre and was given a rare position in the technical marketing department, working alongside the marketing team to promote the latest products. 'A technical marketer is the middleman who facilitates the relationship between business people and tech people. They bring concepts together and ensure better communication between the two groups, so that the product can be marketed in the best way possible,' she said. Business-minded people tend to focus more on budgets and deadlines, while technical teams are usually focused more on products and quality. Therefore, the technical manager must balance the duties of both sides, and ensure that everything runs smoothly. Ms Yiu puts it this way: 'A successful technical marketer has to have both book and business sense.' Despite being one of the few women in computer sciences, Ms Yiu feels that she has had no trouble fitting in at all. She believed that, as a female, she had brought more communication and understanding to the workplace. 'I found it so much easier to adapt to new situations. This programme is a really great opportunity for women since there are so few in the field.' Ms Yiu handled the marketing of project management tool kits - free product promotions that come with the purchase of a Microsoft product. 'I had to think up different ways of distributing the products.' As for the programming aspect of the internship, Ms Yiu worked on updating the latest version of Chinese Input Method, a product for Chinese-language Windows. 'I learned so much about products that still haven't come out yet,' she said. The biggest challenge however, was the first Powerpoint slide show presentation she delivered to her section. 'I was so nervous during my presentation, since I had to speak English,' said Ms Yiu. She presented her facts like she would for homework assignments and almost put her supervisor to sleep. 'He spoke to me afterwards about how to improve my delivery,' she said. Ms Yiu began working on making her presentations more simple and point-by-point, just as she'd witnessed some very distinguished Microsoft managers do. 'I've really become much more efficient and precise since then,' she said. 'I gave my final presentation last week, and it was definitely a success.' With a degree in computer science, Ms Yiu feels that it is possible to start a career in a business-oriented aspect of technology, such as in technical marketing. From there, she will explore the worlds of computer programming and business. 'I think I might work to gather experience as a technical marketer first, then I will pursue my MBA and go further into a career in business,' she said. And in terms of other goals, Ms Yiu says: 'I wouldn't mind meeting Bill Gates some time, either.' Second choice So you didn't get into the top programme of your choice. There's no rush to get where you want to go. Here's what you might consider doing next: 1 It's okay to despair for a little while, but getting back on track is also essential. Contemplate all your options. 2 Make a list of your strengths and interests and see what career they point towards. Seek the advice of academic advisers and professionals in your dream field. Ask them how to arrive there. 3 Assess your existing skills and identify the ones you still have to develop in order to go into that ideal profession. 4 Take your time to learn more things and broaden your skills so that you will be a true asset to future employers. 5 Consider what other options you have available, and whether they can lead you into the same field. Try to be realistic about the things you can do. 6 Take each of your options one by one, until you end up where it feels right. But understand that there is no one set path to enter a certain profession. Try to get to know your way around the territory. Everything will happen in due time.