My dad was in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, after he retired from there he tried out a few different career paths from staying in the world of electronics he had been in during his time in the Air Force, to teaching, to being a travel agent. Travel agent is what he enjoyed the most and he followed that path until he had a stroke a few years before he passed that prevented him from following it any more. He taught me a great many things, one of those being that it’s okay to change careers later in life when you realize you are ready for a new path. I’ve worked in live entertainment for the last 26 years and it is time I change paths.
I’ve been feeling the desire to change paths for several years now and luckily I started a hobby 11 years ago that I love enough to follow as a career. That path is software development for Apple devices. I never took any CS classes in college (I went to an arts conservatory that was light on non art related classes) but I have spent the past 11 years learning as much as possible from all kinds of sources. In the beginning it was just a hobby and I learned little bits here and there after getting the basics of Objective-C and Cocoa down. When the iPhone SDK first came out I learned how to create apps with it as well. As soon as Apple announced Swift I started experimenting with it and I love the language. Because I am a freelancer in the entertainment world my schedule can get a bit hectic at times so I have had long stretches where I could learn anything new, but as I have learned more I have grown to love it more and found new ways to make time to learn even more (videos, books, articles, podcasts on the train to and from work is a big one). I’ve even found ways to give back; be it writing tutorials, answering questions on stack overflow or mailing lists, or providing suggestions in conversations with other developers at various gatherings.
A couple weeks ago I learned about a site called coursebuffet.com that has a CS “degree” path, I put degree in quotes as you don’t get a degree but they help you put together a set of free online classes that match the kinds of classes a CS major would take. I’ve been taking classes of all sorts at courser.org for a few years now (many have been software related but they have covered a variety of topics) but never had a consolidated path to follow to fill in the gaps in my non-traditional education. I’ve only scratched the surface of the first class (Harvard’s CS50) so far but already it has taught me new things. As you can see from the lists below I have plenty of classes to work through.
Taking all of those classes will undoubtedly teach me much more about software development but I want to take it up a notch and learn by doing it for real rather than creating my own little experiments.
I’m ready to switch from entertainment lighting to software creation. Maybe I will end up with a few small contracts first. Perhaps they will be from other developers that want a little help with a project they are working on from a sub-contractor. I might get a full time position somewhere. Maybe you have need for a less seasoned developer who mostly needs experience working in a team (and writing unit tests, I haven’t gotten that yet but I’m working on it now).
I’m currently living in NYC but if you have a full-time position somewhere else that includes a reasonable relocation package I would consider working anywhere in the world (the moon is out though, no trees there). Remote is also a possibility for me even if it requires an occasional trip to a home office of some sort.