How'd I even get here

How'd I even get here

2023, Jul 24    

Every character needs an origin story

You started in tech at how old?

I remember I was 20 years old, looking to leave the world of managed services for something bigger? better? well, definitely better paying. I’d been working at a few local Managed Service Providers for about 4 years and felt ready to enter “the corporate world”. The interview was winding down, a recruiter for a company with a branch office 30 minutes from my house looking for an on-site Sysadmin. “The hiring manager is going to love you. I just need your personal email to send out the calendar invite for the next interview round.” I spell out my email, ending in [email protected] and the recruiter goes “Oh wow! I graduated high school in 1993 too!” to which, I responded “oh, 1993 is the year I was born”. After a few silent seconds, the recruiter says “oh something came up- let me call you back” and I never heard from him again.

I’ll admit, It’s pretty unusual to be 20 with a resume that includes 4 years of experience (OK- 6. I included my IT/Helpdesk “class” in school) but I wasn’t even lying! I dual enrolled my junior and senior year of high school, allowing me to replace 7 hours a day of high school with about 8 hours a week of college classes. How could I fill my new-found time? Well, I guess I could go full time at the IT shop I’d been working at for a little while already.

The main character of my own story

well it worked for him I thought as I read about how some guy got a job by using a targeted Google adwords campaign in a time before adblock. The parallels were obvious, I was (and am) career oriented. I want to work in tech. AdTech is still Tech! This could work for me.

While still in school, my “career” consisted of tasks like fixing my grandparents’ computer, building a basic LAMP stack website in my parents’ basement, and offering “helpdesk” support during the school’s career class. Close enough.

Of course, to a 16 year old, our situations were near identical. Plus Google just sent me a coupon for $100 in free adwords credits! I had the website done and I had the target audience. I built my adwords campaign by getting all of the owners and managers from the local computer repair/ MSP shops and then blatently ripping off the subject of the article I saw:

Hey, [company owner’s name]: Goooogling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too

My campaign wound up being a little cheaper. It only cost me about $2 all-in before one of them reached out on Facebook offering me an internship. So began my foray into “IT” turn “Sysadmin” turn “DevOps”

Lessons learned:

Fast forward to over 13 years later, I am still actively engaged in tech. I’ve encouraged my family to embrace support free (and mostly virus free) technology like iPads, and I use Cloudflare to manage my website. Evolution indeed.

Reflecting on this journey, my key takeaway is maybe my teenage folly of “well it worked for him” isn’t as foolish as I thought. That attitude has helped me push boundaries, seek novel solutions, and take calculated risks. This audacity, blended with creativity and determination, was the catalyst that kickstarted my career in tech.

If you’re starting your career or navigating a change, my advice would be: never underestimate the power of bold ideas and a proactive attitude. Always hold on to that youthful spirit of believing that “you can do it” because, quite often, you actually can. And even when you can’t, the lessons learned along the way are invaluable.