Dylan Allen Blog

How I Became a Web Developer

This Needs Explaining

I am writing this because it is a story that I end up telling a lot. Why did I change careers in my early 30's? Spoiler alert: it is because I didn't enjoy my past career and I love code, but you probably already guessed that. So here is the full story... well, not the full story, but enough of it.

My First Love

I have loved to code since I was in middle school. I started programming in BASIC and Visual Basic with a friend for fun. I wanted to be "computer programmer" as I described it at the time. However, when it was time to go to college and pick a major, the dotcom tech bubble had soured the outlook of the tech industry. I was also told that all those jobs were going to India anyway, so I picked engineering physics as my major. Unfortunately, I went to Henryetta High School, where they actually did not have a physics class when I was there. So my first physics class was at the University of Tulsa. My first assignment in my first week of my first physics class? Prepare a presentation on quantum erasure and black holes, and present that to the TU physics club... I changed my major and dropped that class before I had to present.

All Business

So I carried on as an undeclared business major until my first economics class. I liked economics because everyone else hated it and it made sense to me. Systems, processes, cause and effect, and all of the complex models involved in economics were very interesting. So that interest carried me through a four year degree and a successful business career. I had many different roles including revenue management coordinator, business strategy analyst, pricing analyst, inventory analyst, global demand planner, operations supervisor, and business development manager. The money was good too, but the problem was, I didn't like it.

The Escape

I thought about changing careers for a long time before I did. The biggest hurdle was salary. I had been developing websites on the side and for fun for years, but I had never worked as a full time developer. So I knew I would be starting out in more or less an entry level role, and I was at a manager level at Baker Hughes. At least I was until the week before Thanksgiving in 2015. All but one member of my team was laid off over the course of that year, and I was not the one who made it. As disappointing as it was, it was my chance to escape.

Not Giving Away My Shot

I polished up my portfolio, took some online classes, and started looking for a web development role. After a few months, I landed a job at Hampton Creative where I work today. There were times when I felt in over my head at first, but I learn fast and I work hard. So it was no time before I started making a big impact, taking on new responsibilities, and got a promotion. I was hired as a web developer, and now I am a senior web programmer. I took responsibility for all of the agency's SEO clients, and I do photography on occasion. I have grown a lot over the past two years, and I don't plan to slow down. I have started a side project that I work on in my free time, and I am learning new technologies as fast as I can. At the time I am writing this, I am about half way through Kyle Simpson's book series You Don't Know JS. My goal is to be a JavaScript expert in the near future.

So that is how I got here. Though it was an indirect route, I have few regrets. I learned a lot in my business career, gained supervisory and management experience, and worked on some big and exciting projects. Most importantly, I met my wife at TU, and studying together for our business classes is how we got to know each other. So even if the detour was just so that I could marry her, it was worth it, because she is awesome, and our daughters are perfect.

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