Old Guy New Trick

An old guys journey to learn how to code.

Journey Checkpoint

Author: John on April 29, 2016

This past week at Jax Beach Code & Coffee I met a new guy at the meetup.  His name is Steve Holt.  And thankfully he shared my grin and understanding of the thought going through my mind - a flash back to 'Arrested Development'.  This flash back reminded me of a past blog posting where I ended with: "I've made a huge mistake."

To summarize that blog post, I had left my job of 14 years at AT&T to pursue a career as a software developer using Ruby.  I had given up very good money and benefits in order to grow and work in a field where I was happpier.  

Move forward in time to the end of March 2016.  I was notified that our project work was slowing down and there weren't any new clients lined up.  Basically, I needed to find a new job.  And the thought that resonated loudly in my mind was:   "I've made a huge mistake."  

Since I began my professional career 20 years (wow, time flies!)  ago, I have never been without a job for more than a week.  In fact, I've never had to collect unemployment.  But as the provider of my family, I started to feel a lot of pressure.  Was I a fool for chasing my dream and leaving a stable job?  Believe me, I was going through a lot of self reflection as well as beating myself up.

However, I had two things in my favor.  One - the annual local conference, "Ancient City Ruby" was just around the corner.  And conferences can be a great place to network and look for jobs.  Two - I have grown a lot as a Ruby programmer while working on this current project, an auction application, for High Stakes Engineering.  Through that growth, I have become much more confident in my skills.  

Although my time in this role has been shorter than I had planned, I did realize that I had not made a mistake.  I did in fact enjoy what I was doing and am happy doing it.  So I kicked myself in the rear and went into aggresive job search mode.  I reached out to my local network - yes, attending local meet ups and conferences do help.  

A message for those who are entering this field of software development and are looking for a job:  don't just sign up for a meetup.  Actually show up and participate.  Ask questions and listen to what the more experienced people are saying.  They may not know it all, but chances are they know a lot more than you for their field where they have years of experience.

As I mentioned earlier, the local conference "Ancient City Ruby" was starting in April.  In addition to talking up my local network, and applying for many jobs online via resources like StackOverflow and We Work Remotely, I meet and mingled with fellow conference attendees.  I learned about where they worked, how they liked what they were doing and if their companies had any openings.

I had some good leads and interviews and some that made me feel like I was kicked in the gut.  I had one great experience that started with a phone interview.  Then they asked me to come onsite and do a presentation - to teach them something, anything.  It was my choice.  The presentation went great and then it was time for the panel interview.  I admit, I was a bit nervous.  But I remembered what my friend Bill told me - "John, just be yourself.  You got this!"  

And I got it!  I got the job.  I am happy to announce that I will be joining the team at Bear Den Designs starting next Monday.  I will be working with a small, great team, here in Jacksonville.  I will be working on a product in a new field of interest to me - Health Care.

Learn Something New Everyday



Last Edited by: John on May 04, 2016