Here we go….
Well here it is.. my first entry in my blog for Launch Academy, the 10-week web development program I will be attending in Boston this winter.
As David Byrne would say, “How did I get here?”
Well, as with many people I have met in web development, this career is sort of like a “second life” for me. Let me explain.
In my past life, I was a journalist, a feature writer and an editor. I really enjoyed that line of work, built a strong resume and did just about everything I was supposed to do to build a successful career in news. I was passionate about it — very passionate. I worked as a beat reporter in my home state of Vermont, won a lot of awards and wrote some big stories.
As many know, the news industry is still going through an upheaval. Legacy papers struggled to make sense of the internet, especially when building a solid business model around it. The path from community beat reporter to Boston Globe spotlight star is getting narrower and narrower.
Last October I moved to Boston to work for a magazine company as an editor. It was a step away from news, but a step into content management, content editing (beyond what I had learned to that point), and more of the design work I crave. When the higher-ups decided to cut our whole division and lay us all off in April, I revisited my past attempts at finding a new career path.
Living in Somerville, now a spillover of tech-heavy Cambridge, it should come as no surprise that my three roommates at the time were engineers: one in software, one in biotech, and one in electrical engineering. I started talking to Mike, the software engineer, about a career in tech and quickly wanted to know more.
I have always had an interest in computers and design. While attending college I dove into Adobe Creative Suite, and while my artsy side enjoys design, I was excited to find in web development a technical, brain-heavy engineering compliment to front end web work. My father is an engineer, and I’ve inherited that same passion for elegantly designed, functional projects.
I started with Java, downloading Eclipse, learning the command line, and listening to podcasts.
When a software developer friend recommended Python and Zed Shaw’s “Learn Python the Hard Way,” I switched over around June. It was the right decision.
By now I’ve worked through the Python book, ran through the official Django web framework tutorial (twice), completed Shay Howe’s HTML/CSS book and am now midway through “How to Tango With Django,” another comprehensive tutorial on building a web app in Django.
I am excited to learn Ruby, get my feet wet in Ruby on Rails, and supplement what I’ve learned on my own with the structured, collaborative environment of Launch Academy.
Coding hasn’t just become something I have to do, it’s something I want to do. Yeah, a quick look at the practical side of a career in programming/web development reveals a lot of perks. Good jobs, good benefits, growth, an exciting industry — but that’s not all. I truly love this work. I get up in the morning and code. I listened to web development podcasts on the T and at the gym. I go to my local coffee shop and bang out HTML tutorials. Later in the evening, when I should be playing video games or watching TV, I find I would rather code.
Shutting off the Playstation and coding at midnight. That’s how I know this is the line of work for me….