Changing Careers

Blake Tolliver (@BlakeT87)
4 min readApr 6, 2023

For the past 15 years I’ve been working in the automotive industry. 12 of those years have been spent in quality control. At the age of 35, I’ve decided it’s time for a change.

Quality Control is a very thankless job. It gives me plenty of opportunities to practice problem solving and decision making, but nobody is ever excited about my decision. As a Quality Control professional, if I say “yes” I’m risking a potential issue at our customer, and if I say “no” it means our company loses money. It’s literally a lose/lose situation.

Why Tech?

In high school I got a taste of what CS looked like. In my Junior year the school implemented a new program called SWAT — which stood for Students Working to Advance Technology.

In SWAT, we played the role of the high school and middle school tech support for teachers. Printer not working? Call SWAT. Can’t figure out the projector? Call SWAT. Computer not receiving emails? Call SWAT. You get the idea. Shout out to my favorite tech teacher of all time Steve Reed.

I absolutely LOVED the SWAT program. Everything about it. Upgrading existing computers, helping teachers, learning about computers and how they work, etc. Unfortunately the program only lasted that one year, and it was not offered on my Senior year (2005).

After high school I took a couple years off and worked to try to build up some money and some credit. In 2007 I started applying to schools with the idea of getting a Computer Science degree. I was accepted to Wright State University (Dayton, OH) and invited to their CS program. I was set to begin school in the fall quarter of 2008.

If you remember, 2008 was the last big recession. I didn’t have enough money to go to school, and my parents didn’t have good enough credit to help me get student loans. So I did what I could do, and reached out to my grandfather for help. He agreed to help, and co-signed the many many documents it takes to get a student loan. I was so excited and started connecting with people who were listed in my dorm room.

It had been a few years since I practiced math, and I thought that might be a problem — so I paid $400 of my own money to take a two week math camp at Wright State leading up to school. Since I was already there, I asked my admissions and housing counselors if I could move into my dorm early to make preparations for the semester. They agreed, and I started making necessary purchases to move into the dorm.

When it was time for school to start, I reached out to my grandfather and told him we would have to meet up to sign the check for the first semester so I could turn it in to admissions. He paused for a minute, and told me he wouldn’t be able to sign the check. I was in absolute SHOCK. Immediately my heart exploded, I’ve never been so disappointed or upset in my life.

My Dad spoke to him and tried to understand. After agreeing and signing all of the paperwork leading up to the final signature, why would he suddenly refuse to sign the check?

My grandfather was retired from Chrysler, and he was worried that because of the recession, he wouldn’t continue to receive his pension. So, he couldn’t take the risk of signing the check and being potentially responsible if I wasn’t able to pay. None of my family has really gone to college, so we were ignorant to the possibilities of loan deferment, etc.

It took me many years to understand and fully forgive my grandfather. Now that I’m a bit older I mostly understand, and I do forgive him, but that doesn’t make the heartbreak any easier.

What’s next?

I’ve been trying to learn to code off and on for a few years now, but I continue to get distracted with other hobbies and interests.

This time is different. This time feels different, and I want it to be different. This time I’m using a different method of learning. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Scrimba with Per Harald Borgen and posting regularly in Discord , and on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This time, I’m committing to #100DaysofCode and I’m not looking back. If you would like to follow my journey, please check out my social media links

I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts. And I look forward to sharing my journey with this community.



Blake Tolliver (@BlakeT87)

I am a 35 year old Dad with a dream. I missed out on my dream in 2008 but I’m back for revenge in 2023 || MFG Quality Management => Developer