Well it’s been an interesting couple months and there are quite a few changes going on in my life, but before I get into what’s coming up, I feel that I need to give a bit of an overview of my journey thus far.
I never thought about becoming a developer. When I was growing up, I loved school (yeah, I’m weird), I loved math and science (even weirder), I was going to be a doctor, work on genetics, or something similar. That was my plan even when I started college. Then there were some family things that happened and I was steered to law. I changed majors and got a degree in Justice Studies with the plan to go to law school. I eventually went to law school and after 1 semester realized I hated it. There was no way I was going to finish it, so I quit law school.
Problem was, I had no backup plan. I had a no clue what I was going to do. I bounced around a bit, took a class here and there trying to figure it out, but nothing sparked my interest.
I was working a customer service job, and there was an internal job posted for a Web Site Developer that required experience with HTML, CSS, and ColdFusion. I’d never done any of that before, but my feeling was “Heck I’m smart, I can learn it” so I applied it. The manager was nice enough to give me an interview and once he realized I had no experience, he said “I can see you want the job, but no. We need someone with some knowledge.” I completely understood, but I’m stubborn and I decided to prove him wrong. I went out that weekend, bought a few books, and started learning HTML, etc. Via the work grapevine, it got back to the manager of the Web Team that I did this, so he decided that my drive was enough to give me a chance and boom I got the job.
In one day, I went from not knowing what I was going to do, to becoming a developer. Post Web Site Developer, many of my jobs were the same way, I didn’t know the technology required, but I’d learn it. When I left the web job, I needed to know VBA and MS Access, that turned into C#, SQL Server, and Winforms. Each of these I learned on the job or on my own. The only difference was I stopped buying books and started using sites like Stack Overflow to learn.
As I said, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a developer. While I like being a developer, lately I’ve felt burned out with it. I’ve had this nagging feeling that I need to be doing something or working on something that I care about. That I feel passionate about. But I wasn’t sure what that was.
I started using Stack Overflow almost 5 years ago, when I needed to write C#. I had a book but I wasn’t able to solve some of my problems, so I’d either ask a question or search for answers. I loved the site immediately. I loved that I could get a solution to my specific problem. Yes, I had growing pains on the site, like so many others. For example, I wouldn’t give enough details when posting a question, etc. but I learned how the site worked, and I learned a lot from it. I began to feel comfortable answering questions in a few tags. I loved being able to help others and hopefully users would learn something from my answers.
So what does this have to do with changes?
I’ve been both a user and a moderator on Stack Overflow. But now I’m going to be working in a different capacity, I’ve been hired to be a Community Manager by Stack Exchange. I can’t express how excited I am for this. I love the sites, I love the product that they put out there, I love that people get benefit from them. Of course it’s a bit scary because it’s a career change, but the fact that I love what they do is a huge driving force behind my decision. To be able to work on something you care about makes a big difference. I can’t wait to see where these changes take me.