The journey thus far…
- - on
- in General -
When you approach the idea of creating change in your life, you can go about it a few different ways: stuff that you want, goals to accomplish and check off a list, or the ideal shape to your life. Thinking about change in the context of the shape of your life is an all-in exercise. When I went down that mental path, there were a few things that I decided were essential: a career that would allow me plenty of time with family and friends; the ability to eventually be location independent, and work remotely, so I could travel with family; a career that kept my mind challenged, with plenty of opportunity for professional growth; and a field that could keep me passionately engaged. Boiling this all down, looking at my lifelong interests, obsessions and innate talents, I decided to head down the road to CS.
So, why now? Because of the increased accessibility of non-traditional learning opportunities for those of us that can’t do the standard college -> internship -> career path.
I’ve been using computers for a long time. I mean, a really long time – like back when floppy disks were 8″. The first time I went online, I dialed into a friends computer that was acting as a server for a TradeWars game in the late 80s-early 90s. I was the go-to computer/IT person for all friends, family and co-workers. I love technology, efficiency, productivity and gadgets. For some reason, though, it never occurred to me to actually get into computers as a career. It only took half a life to figure it out.
In the beginning, I didn’t know precisely where my specific interests lay, and I wanted to keep my mind open to anything that was intriguing, engaging and, well, I was good at. Of the available programs in my area, a local private college was the best fit for me. They had an evening program that would allow me work my full-time day job, excellent job placement rates, and small class sizes. It was tough, a 30+ hour school week on top of a 40+ hour work week, but I stuck with it for 2.5 years, until other obligations meant I had to take a sabbatical from college. In the meanwhile, I decided to continue study, self-directed, so I wouldn’t lose the momentum that had been built thus far.
From my classes at college, I’d figured out a few things. We were learning to build basic programs for vending machines, robot programming, etc, but it wasn’t really sparking my interest. (Surprisingly, I really enjoyed my SQL classes, and did quite well. After years of dealing with spreadsheets at the day job, databases just made sense, and were rather fun.) The challenge was nice, but I wanted to build something that I would actually use. I looked to the applications and services that I used everyday, the ones that were shining examples of form and function. What did all of them have in common? They were all productivity web apps, usually cross-platform. All using different technologies, but all serving some basic function of make me more productive and efficient. My other brains, if you will. So. That was it. I wanted to be a web and mobile developer when I grew up.