My Journey as a Self-Taught Engineer

I read 2600 magazine, watched Hackers and WarGames, hung out on BBS’s, downloaded lots of W@R3Z, and would spend days downloading Linux distros over our 56k modem only to brick my computer trying to install them.In high school I had the chance to take some web programming classes mostly taught in Perl, though I think the teacher let us play Grand Theft Auto during class, so I don’t remember how much coding we were actually doing.First WebsiteAs a senior in high school, a friend of mine helped me land a tech support job at a local ISP / web hosting company called VServers..As part of my training they encouraged everyone to build a website on their web hosting platform..I decided to build one for the local punk and hardcore music scene and called it futuristic design by Finn of Punk Rock MBA fameThat job exposed me to so much about Linux, Apache, SQL and networking..I even took the initiative to write a Perl script to automate DNS migrations, but I mostly learned to code by adding features to this website..First written in Perl and then in PHP it allowed bands to post updates, upcoming concerts, MP3s and pictures.When the dotcom bubble burst in 2001 the ISP was acquired by a number of companies and I was left with two weeks severance and only vague ideas about what do with my life..I decided to continue my community college education enrolling in women’s studies, sociology, English, and environmental studies classes..I eventually graduated from University of Washington with a degree in Community and Environmental planning and exactly 0 job prospects..I ended up back in tech support, this time at Real Networks helping people who ran those latency-filled video servers.Buffering…I stayed at Real Networks only a short while, leaving to serve a 2-year mission for my church at age 23 (old by most people’s standards)..When I got back I briefly attended BYU’s Master’s of Public Policy program only to realize both BYU and grad school were not for me..By this time I was engaged to be married and needed some kind of steady job.A Full-Time JobI had done some part-time work on a couple of Drupal sites after my mission and figured I could try and get a job as a PHP programmer..I already knew how to program..I had been doing it for years on my personal sites, but somehow the thought of doing it for a full-time job felt like some great leap that I wasn’t prepared to take.. More details

Leave a Reply