Retooling & searching for the joy of coding again.

I did not graduate with a CS major. I graduated with a
Business Administration with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems. Programming is my passion & I love the field that I’m in. However, I did not know back in my college days what I was going to do. In speaking with my family now, they all have said it was obvious that I was going to do something with computers. Although my major didn’t surprise them at all, but none of us (including myself) knew exactly where it would lead.

College was not great for me. I was a lousy student & I really didn’t like my major. I found most of my courses extremely boring which explains why I was always distracted & quiet frankly hated being there.  There were only a handful of courses in college that actually kept my attention. 

My favorite course was American History, which included a ton of reading.  I’m guessing I enjoyed history because I knew of the events already & I was diving deeper into those very interesting events.  

My next favorite course was Business Finance.  I just happened to be working at a call center that supported the HP Business Calculators about a semester before I took my Business Finance course.  At this job, I had to learn a lot of different financial based calculations that the calculator supported.   I spent a lot of time with lawyers & financial advisors that relied on these calculators to calculate ROI, Amortization, Interest etc.  By the time I took the finance class, I knew how to do all of those calculations already, so it was really easy for me.  

My other favorite course was Business Management.  It was an entry level course.  I think this was a case of just having a really good professor.  He made the topic interesting, straight forward & logical.  It probably defines how I think of management & why I think most managers over complicate everything (but I digress, as this isn’t the topic of this post). 

If I would have known then what I know now…  I probably would have majored in Finance with a minor in History (or vice versa).  But that would have altered my life greatly & probably not for the better.

Since I really didn’t like my college courses (or learning in general), I thought when I graduated I would be done with learning.  Boy was I in for a rude awakening…

As a developer you are locked into a life time of learning. There is no escaping it. If you want to be good at this craft, then you have to learn. You can’t rest on your laurels, things are always changing. So you always need to keep up by learning & exploring.

I find it VERY ironic, that for someone that does not enjoy learning to be in a career where one HAS TO constantly learn… Maybe it says something about me, that I’ve stuck with it for as long as I have (but this post isn’t about that either).

RETOOLING:

So far, there have been two times in my career when I’ve had to retool. The first time happened when I was a new user to StackOverflow & jQuery was version 1.5ish (about 9 years ago). I was shocked by what was going on with this JavaScript framework & in awe of what JavaScript could make the browsers do!

I started out as a classic ASP developer (technically I was 1st a VB5/6 developer, but that is a minor detail just to highlight how long I’ve been doing this), then I switched to a .NET WinForms developer (VB.Net). But jQuery changed all the rules & I loved what could be done now in the browsers without having to use super verbose code (document.getElementById) & the EVAL statement – YUCK!.

So I retooled, I had started working on GodSurfer which was a new site that I had developed using php & jQuery. GodSurfer was my proving grounds, it was very important for me with this retooling.

I eventually changed jobs to become a web developer using .NET WebForms (C#) & jQuery. I felt fairly proficient at it and because of my personal website that I was doing on my own, which gave me a feeling of being satisfied (which in hindsight a very dangerous feeling). Due to that bit of retooling, (because I was fairly early in the adoption) I could find any job I wanted using jQuery. C#, & SQL for the next 5-8 years.

The second time I realized I had to retool was last spring/summer (2018). I found myself possibly looking for a new gig, & I found myself not knowing any of the new JavaScript frameworks, toolsets, & verbiage! I was now an antiquated developer that only had skills in C# and SQL. I could no longer call myself a full stack developer because the landscape had changed so drastically. I was devastated! I couldn’t believe that it had happened to me again.

Just like when jQuery was new, I needed to retool again. Except now I’m over 40 years old, I had no personal website & I was beginning to wonder if I even wanted to continue learning yet another language, toolsets & style.

In the next part, I’ll discuss some of the soul searching I have & continue to do, to figure out what my path will be & how I’m currently retooling. You can see part 2 of my journey here.

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