I’d like to start off this blog series with a bit of an introduction of myself, my current position in Tech and the path ahead.
My name is Anthony. I’m 35 years old and have a wonderful family. So, when I decided to change careers, it was not an overnight whim of a decision. I had many things to consider and evaluate before moving forward.
After high school, I still had no idea what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’. I eventually landed a great job at a local manufacturing company assembling avionics. After a few years I realized I needed to do something. I needed a ‘career’. I had already dropped out of an I.T. program at Keiser University (Keiser College at the time) for several reason I won’t get into here, but I knew I wanted to be in some sort of technology role. Looking around at my company I didn’t see too many positions that caught my interest, but they offered Tuition Reimbursement, so I had to choose something. My father was an Electronics Technician and we always connected on technology and computers, and so I decided to get an Associates degree in Electronics Engineering Technology.
Reality hits hard!
After 5 years of part-time schooling at night, I graduated with my A.S. degree. I was so excited. However, even during my coursework, I knew I wasn’t very passionate about it. I had hoped that once I got into the field, that passion would grow. After all, I’d be building amazing gadgets and troubleshooting all these really cool devices…how could I not enjoy it?
Eventually, I did get into the field. I have been working as an Electronics Technician for 6 years now and the passion hasn’t grown much! Mostly due to the manufacturing environment, but also because of the actual work. Unless you’re in an Engineering lab, helping engineers design new products, you’re pretty much a “button pusher”, or a “board swapper”. Some troubleshooting here and there depending on the company, but in my experience, the industry is moving away from manual troubleshooting and shifting toward Automation. I thought about moving towards engineering roles, but the industry still isn’t a good fit for me.
Over the years I’ve attended the local community college taking classes in Networking and Programming because I know I want to work with computers. I have certain goals in mind now. I know what I want!
But…I have a family now. I have responsibilities. I can’t just jump ship and start over. I’ve had some good success as a Technician and the idea of starting at the bottom in a traditional I.T. / Networking role wasn’t an option. I took a few programming courses, but I after jumping from Intro to Programming right into Java, I felt completely defeated! I thought it was way too hard! I essentially quit.
Fast forward a few years.
I had continued some personal learning in Python and HTML/CSS hoping to maybe have something ‘click’, because it bothered me that I felt like I couldn’t learn something. After some successful ‘concept grasping’ in Python, and helping a friend find his passion in coding, I decided it was time!
I had done so much research over the years that I knew coding was where I wanted to be. I didn’t need to buy any additional equipment to get started, I could work from home (a goal of mine), I could make good money from the start as opposed to starting from the bottom as a Help Desk or Network Technician. This was it. I was determined! But it wasn’t quite that simple.
I’ve tried this before and had some pretty harsh setbacks. I needed to decide the best path to achieving my goals. I didn’t want to go to a traditional school for a Bachelors degree, which would end up taking me 4–5 years going part time. I needed as quick of a start as possible without compromising learning. I could have done the self learning path, but this was a challenge for me. Staying motivated, staying on one path (especially in coding) was a struggle, and ultimately I “didn’t know what I didn’t know”. I thought about a coding bootcamp, but I can’t take so much time off of work and frankly, just couldn’t afford it. I needed something that was a mix of these three.
So here I am now.
I currently am a student at Western Governors University, enrolled in their Software Development program. I like this school for many reasons, but primarily because it mixes the methods above and gives me flexibility. The program is essentially self guided. You take a class, read the material, do the projects, pass an assessment and you can accelerate as quickly as possible. But the benefit is, you get out what you put in. They provide additional resources to you to learn as much as you want on a topic, which is great for me. It’s a mix of guided learning with self learning, with the added bonus of coming out with a degree at the end. Not just a certificate, not just self learned skills, but an actual accredited degree.
This, was for me at least, the best option given my work and family situation. I will be posting more on WGU, my journey and what I’m learning in future posts. But this is me, and how I got here. I hope you will follow along.