As a kid, I had dabbled in programming on my TI-99/4A. I remember spending hours copying lines of code from a book into the computer, followed by a rush of excitement and pride when it was finished and I got to watch a few sprites animate on the screen. So naturally, when I graduated high school 18 years ago, I enrolled at the University of Central Florida as a Computer Science major. That was what I had planned to do, and it was what made sense.
Things don’t always go as planned though.
After the first semester, I realized I just didn’t have any motivation at that time. College was an hour drive each way, and I was dealing with a lot of anxiety being at such a huge school. (UCF was already the second largest college in the state at the time. Now it’s one of the largest in the country!)
So I decided to take a semester off. That turned into a few semesters off. Then, it turned into switching to the local community college.
Fast forward several years, and I found myself in Boston as a Film Scoring major at the prestigious Berklee College of Music! Somewhere along the line, I had made the assumption that I needed to be making music for a living, and that was the solution to my motivation problem. I graduated Berklee Summa Cum Laude, and with my first child on the way, moved back home to Florida with my wife.
Since then, I tried and struggled to find work writing music. I found some scoring gigs, but not nearly enough to provide for my family. Over the years, I discovered that, in order to find enough work writing music, I would probably have needed to pick up my family, move to a busy, entertainment hub like Los Angeles or New York, and work 12 hours per day minimum. Now, as a father of two beautiful boys, that is not the life I want for my wife and sons nor myself.
So I found other work. While I love writing music, that passion doesn’t extend as much into performing or teaching music, so I have opted not to seek out those kinds of jobs. Instead, I’ve found myself in tech jobs: Technical Support, Client Services, Onboarding/Implementations, etc. I’ve always had a proclivity for technology, and these types of jobs are a much better fit for me.
However, lately I’ve been feeling like I need more out of my work life. I want my contributions to be more meaningful, I want to be valued more as an important player on the team, and I want to use my brain more. It’s not that I don’t like my current job; it’s just that I’ve reached a point where what I need in life is less of a job and more of a career.
I’ve explored various pathways for advancing my career: Project Management, Corporate Training, Advanced (Level 2–3) Technical Support. But I couldn’t seem to find the right direction for me. Until recently, it clicked…
I have always been interested in development. After high school, I learned HTML and created lots of web pages about anything and everything. I created a web scavenger hunt for my friends, I used CSS to style my MySpace page, and I built and hosted my own forum. During college, I took programming courses in Visual Basic, C, and Java. I’ve worked with developers at various companies and have made lasting friendships with some of them. Everything about a career in development makes sense to me.
The deterrent to this career path had always been my perception that there was such a huge barrier to entry into development. Many of the developers I know have Computer Science degrees, and the few who don’t have been writing code for many years.
But then, I stumbled onto the exploding culture of coding bootcamps. Knowing that people were going through bootcamps and successfully making the move into development careers gave me the needed push to take the leap.
After weeks of intense research, I chose the Firehose Project to be the bootcamp that would help me make this transition.
It was a big decision for me to pursue a career in development, but I am growing more confident everyday that I will accomplish this. I am certain this is the right path for me and that the Firehose Project will help me get there.
Since I have made this decision, something cool has happened:
I have had a torrent of ideas for development projects I want to do! Suddenly, there are all these cool things I want to make, like a curated music video site, a site that looks up certain DNS records, a cash flow tracker, a site that tracks political donations for reelection candidates, a family picture sharing site, etc.
This decision has really lit a fire under me and sparked my creativity and enthusiasm. I seem to have reconnected with that curiosity and excitement I first discovered as a child on that TI-99/4A.