Quitting My Job and Learning to Program

Pulling the Ripcord

About 6 months ago I quit my job to dive head first into the startup world. I made the decision in December, gave two weeks notice, and moved from Atlanta to NYC in January.


Why I Quit

I worked as an investment banking analyst, helping financial services and technology companies raise money and make strategic decisions. As a liberal arts major in college with business running through my blood, it was the perfect job for me right out of school. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the business world in the shortest amount of time, and there is no question investment banking is a great place to do that. I learned a ton.

“I think it’s wrong to think you’re necessarily going to learn the most by paying your dues. People who work at a big company aren’t engaged. That’s a slower trajectory. But if you’re young and jump in, sure you’re going to make a bunch of mistakes but you’re going to learn quickly.”
Mike Rothenberg, 28 year old who raised a $5mm seed fund while sleeping on couches last Summer

However, after a steep learning curve for the first 6-9 months, the job became repetitive. The long hours became increasingly painful as I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of the job besides a nice paycheck. To me, the most valuable part of any job, especially right out of school, is the learning opportunity.

That’s why I chose investment banking.

It’s also why I quit.


Why Programming?

What I Told People (Including Myself)

I want to build my own apps. Coding is the ‘literacy of the 21st century.’ There are 25x more startups looking for engineers than business people. I want to be closer to the product.

How it Actually Went Down

In reality, I decided to learn to program because I thought it’d be a great way to break into the startup world. Startups are hot, and it’s hard to find a job as a biz dev / financial analyst. I figured it would be a good way to differentiate myself from all the other bankers and consultants. My plan was to move to NYC and learn coding basics for a month or two while looking for jobs. Worst case I figured I’d spend time learning SQL and position myself for a data analyst position.

So What Happened?

I didn’t stick to my plan. After meeting with potential employers and doing some ‘casual internships,’ I began to realize excel is excel, financial statements are financial statments, and while it’d likely be more fun analyzing numbers and data for a startup (and in a hoodie), it wasn’t going to be drastically different from what I just left.

At the same time, I began to fall in love with building stuff. First I used my basic HTML and CSS knowledge to build a landing page for a mobile app I’m working on. Next, I learned Javascript and JQuery to add fun client side interactions. The more time I put into it the more stuff I was immediately able to do. It was awesome.

“The people who actually learn to code don’t do it because they think they should. They do it because they had no other option. It was either learn or fail.” - Vin Vacanti, Yipit

Fast-forward 6 months and I’m getting ready to launch a web app that was ‘just another idea’ a little over a month ago. I’ve never learned so much in such a short time. In the past 2 weeks alone I’ve learned how to integrate Facebook, Foursquare, Google Maps, and Stripe (payments) into the site.

Stumbling on Happiness

Although I didn’t see it coming, I can’t explain how happy I am to have stumbled upon the world of coding. The work is challenging and rewarding in a way that is unlike anything I’ve ever done.

I’m extremely exited to continue this learning adventure at the Flatiron School over the next 12 weeks.

Build, break, learn.


Future Topics:

  1. Resources for learning to code
  2. Building an app as a non-technical co-founder
  3. Building an app as a technical co-founder
  4. Launching my personal website on HN