Why I Left My Job and City In Search Of A Developer Role

Hey there.

My name is Christian and in October 2016, I graduated at the top of my class from Ironhack’s web development program.

I chronicled my journey through the program here, so I definitely encourage you to check it out.

Certificate in hand, my mind swam with dreams of a career as a developer. A year later, I was still a Growth Marketer. Two weeks ago, I packed up my belongings and drove from Miami to Austin with zero job prospects.

Here’s why.

I started working for Clutch Prep as an intern in 2015, gradually taking on more responsibilities before becoming the company’s Growth Marketer in mid-2016. I found myself constantly learning and leveling up, getting more experience than any Marketing degree could have provided. Working in a small team of ~20 and having full control of my own projects was a dream come true, so why did I leave it all behind?

This past October, I found myself losing interest in marketing as a career and started regaining a fascination with software development after having not touched a line of code in almost a year. In that time, it seemed like most of the developer positions demanded knowledge of full-stack Javascript, whereas I had only learned Ruby On Rails and jQuery.

Fortunately, Ironhack started teaching full-stack Javascript last year and made the new curriculum available to its alumni. With that, I had the desire to make a change and the means to learn what I needed to know. By the end of the month, I started teaching myself Node, Express, MongoDB, and React while still working full-time, and I have the GitHub commits to prove it.

I finished the curriculum the day before Thanksgiving and started working on a voting app to test my knowledge of working with Javascript on the front and back-end. Combining the two turned out to be a bigger headache than I could have possibly imagined. Stephen Grider’s Node with React Udemy course was a huge help, and I had the app up and running in less than two weeks.

I took some time off, admittedly a lot more than I needed, to start making a list of developer jobs in Miami and thinking of the first major full-stack web app I’d be making. Before my search had even started, however, I was entertaining the idea of leaving Miami and searching for a job elsewhere.

This post’s title should render the decision I made pretty clear.

Why did I leave Miami? It’s the only city I’ve ever called home, and it’s where all my friends and family are. Honestly, I was just tired of living there. Although there are lots of incredible sights to see, cultures to admire, and people to meet in Miami, the cost of living and traffic wore me down and had me looking for a change. When I made the decision to switch careers, an accompanying shift of scenery was inevitable.

I looked for cities with a low cost of living and state income tax and a large number of startups. Atlanta, Denver, and Chicago were all appealing, but I ultimately chose to call Austin, Texas my next home.

I’ve been here for a little over two weeks now and have zero regrets about the move. This city has so many incredible things to offer, and I’ve been able to spend most of my time coding and working on my first major full-stack MERN app, which feels like a long-awaited dream come true.

The biggest thing I noticed about this change is the number of questions I’ve gotten from people I’ve talked to about it.

“How are you going to move without knowing anyone there?”

“Aren’t you going to wait until you have a job there first?”

“Don’t you want to wait a few months to see if it’s really what you want to do?”

I get it. My decision was pretty extreme and I made it in the span of a few days. If a developer job is what I was really after, I could have just found one in Miami and called it a day.

Though that would have been fine, I think people have an aversion to pursuing a goal if it steps too far out of their comfort zone. Everyone has their own level of risk tolerance that keeps us from using our life savings to invest in Bitcoin. That’s essential to being a responsible adult, but you also shouldn’t hold yourself back so long as you have some sort of safety net in place.

I saved up five months of living expenses prior to moving and made sure I was actually capable of building apps so I could hit the ground running. I’m in an Airbnb, so I don’t have an apartment lease hanging over my head. I’m also working remotely part-time for Clutch to make sure I don’t burn through all of my savings. Best of all, I’m not putting (more) money into Bitcoin.

Risky? Yes. Reckless? No.

To answer the questions I mentioned above:

I’ll move here and then meet people, like I’ve already done. Pen pals aren’t really a thing anymore.

I’m actively applying to jobs and getting involved in Austin’s tech community, and have the means to get by without having an immediate offer in hand.

A few months from now I’ll be exactly where I want to be, instead of still thinking about it had I chosen to stay in Miami.

Back to the coding stuff. As of yesterday, I deployed my first full-stack web app built entirely in Javascript! It’s a remake of my Ironhack final project, which won 1st Place in my cohort’s Hack Show.

It’s called Small Victory, and it presents you with a daily five-minute task based on what you want to get better at. I put a ton of effort into it and I’m really proud of the final outcome. The original Rails version was great to begin with, but with the MERN stack it feels like a brand new experience.

If you’d like to check it out, it’s live on http://small-victory-mern.herokuapp.com/. As a heads up, only the Fitness track currently works, so make sure to select fitness-related tags during setup!

You can also check out my Github here. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this post, and if you’ve been thinking of making any changes of your own, I’d definitely encourage you to go for it.

Any questions? Just shoot me an email over at chavarro.christian@gmail.com

Until next time.