Why I became a Software Developer

Why I became a Software Developer is something that I get asked often at interviews and persons looking to get into the career field.  Some people started working with computers and coding early in life, others fell into it after their original career path didn’t pan out as expected.  For myself I took more of a middle ground.

Growing up I always wanted to be a weather forecaster.  The power of the atmosphere amazed me and grabbed my attention.  As a kid I was glued to The Weather Channel, this was back when they actually focused on weather, caught the Penn State University Weather World channel whenever I could, and listed to the NWS Weather Radio broadcasts anytime a big storm was forecasted for the area.  I even had my own map of The United States on a chalk board that I would update with the latest front placements.  As you can guess I wasn’t necessarily the most popular kid in school.

Meuse Argonne American cemetary

Army patches on the stained glass window in Meuse Argonne American cemetary

So after high school I joined the Air National Guard as a meteorologist.  I always wanted to be in the military and loved learning about weather so the two seemed like a great fit.  Once boot camp was completed I then proceeded to study forecasting, observing, and briefing weather for nearly a year with the Air Force.  Eight hours a day, five days a week, my job was the learn everything they threw at us.  Once that year was completed I had come to the realization that weather was not a career choice for my civilian life.  College would have to focus on my backup plan.

While I was negating any cool points I had earned studying weather in high school I also started learning how to program.  Coding was amazing, you could take a blank screen, write some lines of code and create whatever you imagined.  You became a god, the Alpha and Omega of your application, your limit was knowledge and imagination.  This feeling grabbed hold of me and stuck around while I was training with the military.  Once my training was done I started college and changed my major over to Computer Science immediately.

From the first class I knew it was the right choice.  The professors and faculty in the department made me feel at home.  It was a small department, about half a dozen professors, but they all genuinely cared about the progress of the students.  The classes they taught kept me hooked with the constant revelations of new concepts and with the burst of interest in Internet technologies going on outside the classroom the future looked bright.

Since graduation I’ve stuck with the career.  I’ve worked in various fields ranging from finance to government research to defense.  The problems being solved have never been the same and the field has changed drastically since I first started my studies.  This career is one where success can only be had if you are willing to continually learn.  You don’t have to pick up every new language or framework that comes out but you do need to atleast dig deeper into the technologies you already know.  For myself I initially tried to learn about all of the latest concepts coming out.  It was great reading about them but at the same time drained my energy as I tried to learn them all.  To combat the potential burnout I’ve changed my tactic and now focus on a few specific technologies.  The change couldn’t have come at a better time and has kept me excited about what the future holds.