I Left My Job As A Developer, Twice!
This isn't a photo of me. It probably could be though. Or could have been. I've got an awesome, refreshed outlook on what it means to be a developer.
I've taken a step back from the tech industry and my career a couple times now for different reasons. One was for a period of about three years. Another for a little over one year. I used to dream about doing so when I was slogging away at a desk pounding out code on the keyboard every day.
Being away from everything was wonderful. I always checked in from time to time to see what was new and what was changing. The first break I took saw a ton of change. Most of what I'd known was no longer used. It was pretty scary to say the least.
From mid to late 2017 until the beginning of Summer 2019 I interviewed and applied to tons and tons of jobs. I had to refresh my resume first to even get anyone interested enough to chat. The first few interviews were absolutely brutal. The first interview that had a coding challenge wasn't pretty. I actually remember feeling bad that I'd even interviewed**. I almost completely gave up right then and there.
After many more failed tech interviews my confidence was trashed. I could hear the tones in the voices of my interviewers. They weren't too pleased. One question that kept coming back to me over and over again was, "did things really change THAT much?"
I shoulda checked myself before I wrecked myself! Things changed quite a bit. It wasn't only tech that changed though. The entire interviewing process changed!! The interview for the last full time Senior level dev job I took (at 120k a year) looked nothing like the interviews I was experiencing now.
In 2009-2013 both Facebook and Amazon nearly begged me to come work for them (true story). I interviewed with them both in 2019 and was not offered a job. The coding tests were difficult for sure. Modern JS and data structures and algorithms are critical to understand for these interviews.
In college I studied Multimedia. They didn't even have a program for Web Design or Web Development yet. It didn't exist. I took some elective programming courses on my own because I'd figured out I needed to know how to program to be a Web Developer. I took an HTML class a Visual Basic class and a Logic and Design class. I don't have a CS degree. I didn't learn about data structures or algorithms in college. I was hired out of college as a full time programmer before I graduated.
I wrote code as a full time professional web developer for over fifteen years. I never heard about or was involved in a single conversation about data structures and algorithms.
After a slew of failed tech interviews I got extremely discouraged and gave up. I left tech for the second time. The projects I was working on were finished and I needed some type of income. I was so fed up I went and got a part time job building bikes at Walmart.
Believe it or not I learned so much getting out of tech this time. I ate Walmarts dog food, so to speak. I was a user of their apps. It was so enlightening. I wouldn't trade it for the world. In addition to gaining insight and perspective I'd never have gotten inside the tech world I'm really refreshed and have a completely new outlook on life and career. I learned a lot about myself, communication, team work and management. By the time I left I'd been promoted to department manager. This was working three days a week as a bicycle assembler. They LOVED me.
So where do I go from here? How does one get back into the tech industry after leaving? This time isn't that terrible as far as catching up to language changes etc. I did the bulk of that last time. I should be through my review of everything within a month or so. I'm tempted to try to get an internship or a Junior level position.
It's strange because the only thing that would put me in a lower position is the lack of a few tech items. All the rest of the aspects of the career I know and I know well. It's a bit of a unique situation. I'm certainly interested in finding anyone else who's been in this position or is currently in it like me. I'd love to get a hiring managers take. Additionally if you're like to talk about work please get in touch. I really feel I could make a major impact on a project. I have multiple times in my life. I understand development from more than just the perspective of a developer. I've run a front end software development company. I understand writing code from the perspective of a business owner. I know when to stop gold plating.
I have a rough roadmap for what I'm going to focus on learning. I really just want to hit the items I'll need to be back up to speed. One thing I need to work with more is GIT. I've used more SCM than I can remember. So it's not SCM that I don't know. It's that I haven't worked on a team using Git much. It's not like I'm a true Junior dev here. I know SCM, I've done it a ton. This is the same all across the board. I know JS. I know HTML. I know CSS. I know a lot about a lot. Some of it's older and my 43 year old brain can't spout out language reference details like when I was 20. Those things make the job search more difficult.
So, have you ever left the tech industry for a long period of time and then returned? Hit me up on Twitter and let's converse! I need to build my tech network back up. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
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