Despite all of the reasons I could have failed along the way, I am a professional software engineer. The path to my career at ScriptDrop was likely a little more unconventional than most.
One day, during my senior year of high school, everyone was ushered into the auditorium to take a test. Turns out, this test was the ASVAB. If you do not know, that is the test that the military uses to dictate which jobs you can and cannot have if you so choose to join the ranks. Don’t worry, I had never heard of it either.
The results came back, and I was best suited for a career as a “secret agent.” Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I signed up for the Navy.
I quit my high school job without notice, even as the manager told me to finish out the schedule, and when I told him I was leaving before it was over, he told me he couldn’t give me a good recommendation for future employers. So, future employers, please don’t judge too harshly, I was reckless in my youth.
I had joined through a program that allowed me to go out into the fleet before settling on my final choice of vocation. I ended up as a fueler on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Thankfully, I had already been guaranteed a position as a meteorologist after my exploration. After finishing meteorological schooling (which despite some opinions is not a job about space rocks), I extended a year so I could be stationed in Naples, Italy, where I was fortunate enough to live for three years.
Upon completion of my five years of active duty, I went out into the world. I took jobs where they came. I worked outdoor education for a year or so, managed a Walmart, bartended and some other odds and ends. After an almost move to Los Angeles, a new baby, and working in a factory, a friend introduced me to coding.
Having not had a computer in my home until my late teens, and only understanding video games, coding had always seemed like some abstract thing that only super smart people could do.
A Career as an Engineer
On its surface code is a tool to accomplish a task. Everything is sterile and prescribed. Code’s value is measured by the skill with which control is maintained. This description does not shine, it does not inspire. The truth is, there are so many opportunities to learn and solve problems in new ways that it holds the deeper beauty of possibility. So much of humanity’s everyday life is owed to code, lives are saved by code, lost people are found, and the physically disabled or busy working family can save a trip to the pharmacy and spend time doing things that hold more value to them, and one day life itself may run on code.
I found some online resources, and never looked back. I learned about coding technical schools popping up in Ohio and decided to look into them. I eventually saved up enough to attend a coding bootcamp.
Now, I am at a company I truly enjoy being a part of: ScriptDrop. I work with an interesting functional language, Elixir (not the medieval potions). I work with passionate people, am challenged, and am learning. As I wandered through those years after the military, I ended up in the place I had struggled against my entire life. When I gave myself a goal and worked toward it, everything changed. However, it is kind of a shame I never got to try out being a secret agent.
Or did I?