One Year in Tech

One year ago, I enrolled in a web development immersive course at General Assembly.

I can say that making this career shift was among the better decisions I have made in my life. And, the list of people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude is quite long.

Right now, though, I want to reflect on my experience in the tech industry and some reasons I'm grateful to be a part of it. Often, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the heavy attention to detail that being in tech requires and even easier to forget how fortunate we are to be on this journey.

Cross disciplinary opportunities

This industry is unique in that it does not operate independently of the rest of society. That is, in virtually every sector of our world, tech has had/is making/will soon make a major impact. To that end, I have been able to do some things that I, otherwise, probably would not have been able to do:

  • meet people that do some very cool things and have access to very large amounts of money
  • give a presentation at a Fortune 30 company about Node.js
  • meet with City Hall officials about building an app for the Atlanta Streetcar
  • many more to come...!

Granted, the third initiative on that list did not pan out but that's part of the game. In fact, it leads me to the next thing I'm grateful for...

Failure is okay.

A lot of things fail in tech. Every day. It can be as small as a bug in production code to an entire start-up going under. Knowing this is very helpful to think about whenever I find that I am telling myself negative stories about my worthiness as a technologist. I am glad that there has been a recent movement to embrace failure as a function of learning and growth. It truly is inevitable and actually a great thing if you can learn from it.

This lesson could not have come at a better time for me and I think it is something that I learned as a direct result of being in the tech industry.

Being nice matters!

I remember going to my first meet-up and being a little turned off disgusted by how smug one particular brogrammer was about my having just gotten into the industry.

Having picked up on his vibe (and likely in an attempt to let homeboy save face) one of my instructors asked him, "So do you have any advice for these guys just getting into the industry?"

"I mean, I've been programming since I was 10, so," Neckbeard replied, "I don't really know what to tell you."

Oh, nice! Let me just rollback to 1998 really quick - I'm sure you coded a sick RubyGem for time travel by the time you got your learner's permit, I thought to myself. Honestly, though, I was fairly discouraged as this was my very first meet-up!

The reason I am pointing out this exchange is because this dude has been the rare exception to my overall positive experience in the tech industry. For someone changing careers, it is important to be surrounded by encouraging voices and people secure enough to not be threatened by new faces eager to affect positive change in the industry.

Don't get caught being smug to a newbie.

I could absolutely go on about why I love being a part of the tech industry but I'd like to hear from you.

(This gratitude comes with the full realization that the industry as a whole has much work to do in many regards - especially around deliberate inclusivity and diversity. This theme will come up over and over again but I wanted to take a minute to appreciate.)