My First Steps

At age 18, I was born into the world of software development. I quickly knew exactly who I aspired to be. A software entrepreneur. It made perfect sense. The speed and scale at which I could inflict world change is phenomenal in the software industry. It aligned with my personality and goals so well. It was destiny for me, I could feel it. Yet, I still felt like I was missing something. Reading books on entrepreneurship by day, reading similar articles online for hours as I lay my head down at night. Consistently writing new ideas for businesses every single day. But the hype was missing. I needed to feel a part of the culture. I still couldn’t yet understand what it means to be a developer. I was taking steps, but I just couldn’t put a few together to truly walk. Then came Make School — A software development program focused on iOS development with a 2 year program called the product academy and a summer program called the summer academy. I was hooked from the jump.

I was determined to attend Make School. No, I was certain that I would go. My parents said I couldn’t afford it, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I even went through the process of filing for a private loan to pay for it. It just so happened that Aloe Blacc — world-renown musician, songwriter, and philanthropist — believes in the vision of Make School. I worked with Sara Goheen, Make School team member and several others including founder Jeremy Rossman to receive a scholarship to attend Make School. I’m tearing up as I write this because the following paragraphs describe the time of my life. Words have yet to be invented for how grateful I am to Aloe, the Make School team and God for the opportunity. They helped me walk in this new software development life. They opened up my entire world to new possibilities.

I took an Uber (which had yet to reach Iowa at the time) from the airport to the Newell House in Palo Alto. I unpacked and noticed how much more vibrant the light is, how much different it feels in the Valley. The people are positive and optimistic. I met my roommates, with whom I still have an indescribable relationship. They are the most creative, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, and caring people that I’ve been fortunate to meet. I trust these people with my life, yet I was only with them for 6 weeks. Shout out to Tim, Justin, Sarthak, Eric, Elliot, Muhammed, and Yahya. Our bond could never be broken. Our group message entertains me to this day. I see bright futures for each of my roommates including Jordan, Andrew, Zach, Lynn, Donny and Masa.

Make School is innovative. On the very first day, they set a standard of transparent culture. They challenged and supported me. It felt like home. I was eased into Swift development, not thrown to the wolves as I expected mostly because of my experience with higher education. I was given the opportunity to learn by doing rather than by watching. Tutorial style learning has been the most effective wave in learning that I can remember. Make School leverages this type of learning to give you experience while you learn. Make School also had an incredibly small teacher to student ratio. I got help early and often when I had questions. I was empowered to create my own vision for the world and see that vision through by creating a mobile app. What more could you want as an engineer and entrepreneur?

The California sun is so subtle and endearing. It’s everything I thought it would be. The air seems so much more breathable. The conversations are so warm and impactful. With ‘futuristic’ being my number one strength according to strengths finder, I realize that this environment is perfect for me. I got to discuss futuristic ideas with people all day, every day. I loved stepping away from the midwest and experiencing the Silicon Valley culture. It’s a place for dreamers, creators, and optimists. It’s diverse by nature as it draws people from everywhere. The food is a result of that diversity. People experience the culture, become infatuated, and then are stimulated to add their culture to it. The cal-train system is amazing. The area felt really accessible. We really don’t have anything like this in the midwest. In Iowa, I can’t simply hop on a train and see an entirely new unique place in a few hours time. We utilized this resource nearly every weekend to see and experience new places. I now know that San Francisco is where my heart is. It was the first city that I came to when I traveled West (a month before Make School). When I first came to SF, everything was so different from what I knew to be true. It’s a different way of life. One where there are no wrong answers, only different opinions about what is possible. The city itself is innovative in every way; it allows for growth around every corner. SF is and will forever be, my city crush.

In closing, Make School and Aloe Blacc gave me the opportunity to see the world. In the Valley, I realized that my potential is infinite and that I can manifest anything I want into existence. This 6-week trip gave me the confidence I need to be a change agent in the world. I have the resources, the network, the perspective and the courage to make a difference — to run. In short, my new goal is to emulate Forrest Gump. I never want to stop running.