Tom Wark's Personal Site

Archives for : August2013

End of First Month

So another milestone has passed. This August long weekend marks the halfway point of HackerYou’s Summer Academy. I can finally say I feel and think like a developer now. I see problems from a programmers view. My confidence in my skills has never been higher and it feels fantastic. I spent all day Friday working on my own personal app (a workout tracking application) and it was great. Every time I encountered a problem, I knew what steps to take to solve it. Where to look, what to write, it was an awesome feeling. I’m really loving building web applications and writing code.

This past week we spent a little time talking about personal branding and finding your “Golden Thread”. After some introspection things began to seem clearer to me. Though it may seem strange, there are a lot of similarities between construction and building web applications. At a very basic level, it all comes down to problem solving – something I enjoy doing and something I feel as though I’ve become good at through years of practice. You start with a blank canvas, develop a plan of attack and then execute that plan to build the best possible product for a client. What drew me to construction work in the first place was the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment when you can stand back at the end of a project and see your hard work paid off. This is for the most part the same reason why I’ve fallen in love with programming. And the fact that I can now use a computer and my brain as my tools instead of wearing my body down on construction sites is really a wish come true for me.

We also had a lightning talk with Doug Tetzner (head of recruitment at Shopify) recently which really made me thing hard about myself, the path that lead me here and my aspirations. Doug spoke a lot about “your story”, and outlined the fact that if he asks someone in an interview about “their story” and they do a terrible job explaining it, then they haven’t really been paying attention along the way and have just kind of been along for the ride. This made me think. A lot. Initially I felt a little demoralized because I didn’t truly understand the path that lead me here, or why I made the decisions I did to end up where I am. After mulling it over in my head, I’ve made some realizations about subconscious choices I’ve made and why I love building software so much.

Essentially what software development boils down to for me is the perfect marriage between theoretical knowledge and practical application. When I graduated from University, I wasn’t very interested in Biology research mainly because it was almost purely theoretical knowledge. There were no visible results from my hard work. As a very result-oriented person I decided to keep doing construction work which was at the opposite end of the spectrum – all practical application with very little theoretical knowledge or thinking power involved. This was why construction had become so boring and monotonous for me, I had learned the skills and took the majority of the thinking part out of it. Then I started to learn to code. It was perfect, my brain was being tested more than it had in years and it felt amazing. Not only that, but after hours of heavy thinking and problem solving I had an actual finished product (result) that I attribute to those hours of hard work.

HackerYou’s Summer Academy being available to me at the time that is was, is truly serendipitous. I’ve always been the type to run while learning to walk and when I found Summer Academy it was perfect for my personality. I’d rather go full out for 2 months, 6 days a week than spend 3 years in college learning partially outdated information in a drawn out, diluted way.
My “Golden Thread” along my path to becoming a developer is definitely becoming more clear to me and I have no doubt at all that I’m headed in the right direction.