My Career Path (So Far...)
7 min read
When you find what you're passionate about, you will find a way to make it work. Through happenstance, I found my love for coding and was determined to teach myself so I could a job doing it full time. Now I've been doing it for close to 10 years. Here's the story.
I remember taking a "Technology" class in high school where we got exposure to a number of topics, such as radio broadcasting, robotics, and a few other things I can't remember. Mostly because it was a "blow off class" and since I was already naturally good with technology, the class didn't require much effort.
One of the things I remember about the class is the the teacher, Mr. Goldberg. He was easy going, which made the class fun and we got along well. He also happen to teach our school's programming class. I had been wanting to give this programming thing a try, so I planned on taking his programming class in a future semester. However, with baseball in the spring, football in the fall, and other silly required curriculum, there wasn't much room left, and I unfortunately never got to take his class.
Since I never got to take that programming class, when it came time to choose a college major, computer science wasn't on my radar. I was mostly considering mechanical engineering or architecture, but for various reasons, neither of those were the right for me. I ended up choosing to study business, because I figured it would be the most versatile degree that would allow the best chance of making a decent living for myself. I later chose a more specific concentration within business, which was computer information systems.
I took several technical classes such as Java programming, database management, web programming using ASP.NET Web Forms, and even COBOL programming. But I honestly hated every minute of it. Even though I enjoyed the subjects, I couldn't stand having to be there, in a classroom, on a schedule, learning outdated material, from a professor that hasn't worked in the industry writing software for the last 20 years. I just always struggled to sit still and to conform to things I didn't agree with. So school was never a good match for me.
But something magical happened in January 2007. Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. I was obsessed and it was immediately clear to me that this was going to be the platform of the future. In 2008, Apple announced the App Store and that developers could begin creating apps for the iPhone. I scrounged up some money and bought my first Mac. I took the first offered iPhone programming class at my local community college. Along with a close friend who was a computer science major, we developed and release a few soundboard apps to the App Store in the early 2010's.
It was time to figure out what I was going to do with my life when a friend got me a job at a company that made websites for car dealerships. I basically did technical support to help troubleshoot dealer's website's and make updates to their sites using our in-house CMS system.
I relentlessly badgered my manager about openings, but things were too slow moving for me. I was contacted by a recruiter who was able to land me an offer within a few weeks. This put pressure on my company to find a place for me doing web development or lose me to anther company. The next week I was interviewing with our development in Burlington, Vermont. I received an offer to be a web developer and I accepted it, rejecting the offer I received through the recruiter.
I was in my mid 20's. I sold most of what I owned and ventured from Dallas to Burlington in my 1999 Ford Contour. Working at dealer.com taught me a lot about how I think software companies should be run. The company was founded and owned by engineers and had an amazing engineering culture where the engineers were the experts who were empowered to solve business problems as they saw fit. They had an outstanding engineering mentorship program where I was fortunate enough to get partnered with one of the best engineers in the company. I also had great senior developers on my scrum team that were always willing to help me learn and grow.
Before I knew it I was a mid level web developer and taking on backend work to expand my skill set. I was a part of several internal committees responsible for making decisions about automated testing, evolving our tech stack, and venturing into cloud infrastructure. For a couple years I was a scrum team tech lead.
In 2017, the company decided to expand it's engineering team growth in Dallas rather than Burlington, so I moved back to Dallas to help start up a couple teams in the Dallas office. I became a senior UI engineer and was responsible for mentoring and growing two teams. I was heavily involved in hiring new engineers and bringing the engineering culture from Burlington to Dallas.
I eventually had an opportunity to move to the Irvine, California office to work within the Kelley Blue Book branch of Cox Automotive. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I adapted quickly. My title was changed to software engineer and shortly after I became a senior software engineer.
Today I mostly work on applications that are responsible for connecting car shoppers to car dealership via tools on KBB.com, as well as Autotrader.com. I'm also responsible for maintaining and improving our internal tools that are used by our sales and marketing teams and migrating legacy systems to AWS.
I consider myself a "self-taught" programmer. I spent many hours every night learning from some awesome, free online resources like YouTube and Lynda.com. Once I found something I enjoyed so much, it was clear to me that I had to find a way to make this my career. Overall I'm proud of what I've accomplished and look forward to many more years coding!
Code With Love
Take a break from the internet for a few minutes and go show love to someone. Remind a friend or family member why you are grateful to have them in your life. Smile at a stranger. It's the little things that make the biggest difference.
Remember ... When you code with love, you can change the world.
Now go change the world!
- Mostly just my memories