From Banging on Drums to !-ing on Objects: My Journey Towards Software Engineering
I guess my journey towards learning how to code is a long and convoluted one. My earliest memories based around learning about computers goes back to elementary school and before, going to a summer “kids computer camp” at the local college. I used to wake up before my parents weekend mornings as a kid to go on Nick.com or other children’s websites to play games (without getting my parents’ permission, a true daredevil since day one). I don’t quite know how to put it into words, but something about computers has always been enticing to me. Even though my interest in learning what makes computers tick is a fairly recent development, I’ve always been interested in staying computer and technologically literate.
I’ve been playing the drums for most of my life, I began playing when I was 9 and I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14. For most of my life, if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life for most of my childhood, I would have said that I wanted to be a musician. I ended up going to college for psychology as a back-up plan while playing in bands and in pit orchestras for the university’s thespian group. (Why did I decide to major in a field that requires a post-grad degree to use, even though I had no intention of going to grad school? No idea.)
I moved to Philadelphia right after college without a solid job plan, just knowing that I wanted to join a band and get into the deep music scene in the city. To make a long story short, that plan didn’t last more than one season. I joined a couple bands but never found the right group, and the industry was much more cutthroat than my naive self imagined it would be. I ended up deciding to start working for Comcast (for anybody who hasn’t been to Philly, the company essentially owns the entire city. The two biggest buildings in the skyline are Comcast offices) and writing songs over Dropbox with my bandmates from college. I had the perfect hobby, writing with some of my best friends, but there was still something missing with work.
My younger brother has a degree in Computer Science, and is currently working in the Engineering field writing code for Lockheed Martin Space’s MAVEN program, which is a satellite currently orbiting Mars (it’s a rock-star job, he makes sure we all know how cool it is). I was unhappy working in my cable advertising job with Comcast, which felt like more of a dead-end career path to me than anything. He knew I had been learning how to code off and on for a little bit less than a year, and when he was visiting me over the summer we got to talking about my future plans while learning to code. When I told him I eventually wanted to leave my job and join the software engineering field he got a little frustrated with me.
“Why are you bothering with saying you want to change careers when you’re only going to work towards it for one or two hours a day? If you want to commit to it, commit to it.”
So that’s why I’m here.
There’s an aspect of creativity that coding requires that, as a musician, I’m absolutely drawn to. I think that code is like music in that way. When you’re playing a song, there’s no correct answer. There are a set of rules that you need to follow, but there are an uncountable amount of play with those rules in place. Software engineering is the same way, giving you a language with a set of rules but without a defined “correct” path. I just think that’s pretty neat. I couldn’t be more excited to get started on this next chapter of my journey. Hunkering down and getting into the nitty gritty of everything Flatiron has to offer the past two weeks has already been more fulfilling than anything I’ve experienced in my professional life. In the immortal words of Philadelphia legend Sam Hinkie, I’m ready to “Trust the Process”.