Check check- is the mic on?

TLDR; I am changing careers and documenting my progress.

This is a blog about me and my journey.

I’m writing this to stay on top of my journey and make sure I keep marching forward.

A look backwards:

Like nearly every 18–21 year old in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do in college. I just knew I wanted to go and I found psychology fascinating (still do). So, I majored in Psychology at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and finished my BS degree when I was 21.

I didn’t have a job so I moved back in with my dear old dad and with no relevant work experience, soon found myself rejected for all the jobs that would want a psych major. I then started volunteering at a substance abuse treatment facility. After 3 months, they liked me enough to give me a part time job and then a full time job. They kept giving me things to do and I became a Certified Addictions Professional and was making very little money. I did have to do drug testing on people, I had to talk to people about things that were awkward, and I had to work with populations of people that people generally don’t like — like homeless, addicts, mentally ill, criminals, or a combination of those things. All that didn’t bother me really. But it was the continual stories of horror that people should not have to deal with in this life that just started breaking me down.

It was around this time that I started taking classes in various STEM fields as I knew I wanted to make a change in my career. I took Calculus 2 after not seeing Calculus since high school (some years!), Calc 3, Differential Equations, Physics with Calculus, Chemistry, and then… Intro to Programming in C++. I loved this. From ‘hello world’ on I dug the magic of creating something from a program. I took a variety of programming classes — HTML, CSS, Javascript, Java, Android Development, Visual Basic, XML, Relational Databases, etc. I couldn’t tell what I wanted to do!

But I got a job in Orlando — because I wanted to live in Orlando — making a little more money, as someone who did evaluations and recommended substance abuse treatment for people referred by the child welfare system. It wasn’t too bad. I got to drive around in my car to people’s homes and listen to NPR or whatever music I wanted. I never took that job too seriously. I was pretty tired of living paycheck to paycheck though — so I got a part time job doing a nighttime group therapy for drug offenders. They were a really oppositional group — it was a challenge. There were a lot of people there for simple marijuana possession charges which was not something I thought people should be charged with — so it was tough. They moved my office into the Department of Children and Families office. The people there were super nice to me and, notably, making a lot more money than I was with state benefits.

I did the logical thing for my bank account. I got hired at DCF and quit the other jobs. And at first, it was okay. It was okay because they were training me and I hadn’t had my first case yet. Then the cases started rolling in. Some were utter garbage cases that people just called anonymously and made up stories about someone. Other times, I would see pregnant children who had been raped by a family member, I saw bad burns and lashings, parents who just gave up on their teens and abandoned them, babies born addicted to drugs, houses full of cockroaches, cat urine, bed bugs, dog shit, dirty dishes, and nearly no food in the home. Some of my colleagues got death cases — a child abuse investigation surrounding the death of a child. I had to take children away from their families. I had to have a Blackberry on me so I never felt like I was off the clock. Sometimes I was on a call all night for emergency cases. The cases kept coming in without an adequate time to finish things. I ofter wondered how others kept up without lying about their work; sometimes they did lie. I didn’t lie, I was just overwhelmed. I’m not one who is prone to anxiety, but I had it all the time.

Because I was working overtime, I didn’t really have time to spend any money. So I saved up quite a bit and just quit my job. It wasn’t worth it. I decided NO MORE SOCIAL SERVICES for me ever.

So I was unemployed for about 6 months. I did do some things like — Code School, Team Treehouse, and go to tech meetups. But I was all over the place. Sometimes looking at Java, sometimes Wordpress, sometimes Javascript, Ruby, etc. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I kept dabbling into things — which I have a bad habit of doing till this day. But my money was running short, so I needed a job. I talked with a friend of mine who got me a job at a local tech company that she used to work at.

I wasn’t doing tech stuff there really. I was just a house accounts manager. I mean, I had to do some basic help for customers over the phone, but nothing really techy. They gave me more responsibilities — like 2 hour trainings through GoToMeeting to teach our customers how to use the software as they have need for it. Then I got to do some custom services for customers too. I used css, html, and jquery to make custom web pages for their proposals that are generated from the software. Then I got familiar with their reporting language (Reportease) which has almost no formal documentation available on it that I ever found. So those were fun. I do wish I could use what I know now about web development for those projects!

I got complacent in that job since it paid pretty well for Florida, I could live comfortably enough with the extra training and customizations. The people there were the most fun that I’ve ever worked with too. Being a fun, low stress, and decently paid job made it easy to stay. But I got a roommate to split the bills with too. So I started saving quite a bit of money again and started thinking about long-term picture again…

My job wanted me to do more sales-related responsibilities — like training our resellers about our product. It felt good that they trusted me to do something like that, but I also realized that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in. I decided it was time to go to code school.

I didn’t want to live in Orlando for a number of reasons — but let’s just go for the fact that I always liked Portland and wanted to move there because the sun and humidity are oppressive. I found a really reasonably priced code bootcamp in Portland with an internship. I just had to decide between C# and Ruby. Because I had an interest in Python too, I went the Ruby route as it is syntactically similar.

In March 2017 I moved to Portland with my cats and everything I had in a Penske truck. We moved into a small apartment within walking distance to all the things I needed — code school and grocery store. This was the first time I’ve been without a car since I was 16 (some years!!). A few days later, I started Epicodus. It is now August and I have finished all my coursework and starting an unknown internship soon.

So I’ve started this blog because I want to keep myself motivated — helping me recognize and appreciate the work that I do every day towards realizing my goal of becoming a developer. I also want others to know some of the steps I took in becoming gainfully employed.

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