Passionate Journey

As I am sitting at home during this worldwide pandemic, I have been reflecting on my coding journey. I just graduated from Flatiron School and have started the job search. I have pursued technology as a hobbyist for twenty-five years. What in the world possessed me to go back to school at 58 years old?

I Need a Web Site

Yep, that is how it started. I was a small business subcontractor in the mid-90's developing fabrication drawings with AutoCAD and needed a web site. My Dad and I attended a Saturday morning workshop hosted by our local Dial-up Internet Service Provider and learned enough HTML 3.2 to get started.

I discovered that I loved to tinker with code, tweak and break code until I figured out what made it work. As I started I realized I could review and tweak code to make it work for my needs, a far cry, in those days, from being a developer.

Content Management Systems

I eventually migrated to Content Management Systems (CMS) and developed with Joomla for several non-profit organizations which I am a member. After a number of years, I moved to WordPress and then to StudioPress' Genesis Framework. I worked with a few churches in my area as my first paying clients and was developing my skills, but was looking for more.

Know the Code

Honestly, I was tired of copy and paste coding. You know what I mean, look for a tutorial, or article, grab the code and tweak it. I found Know the Code and started learning how to really code, where Tonya Mork taught me to think about code as modular reusable units instead of one large program, and to think about how to break down the project to smaller single purpose tasks. I learned that code should be, mostly self-documenting. This experience led to me developing a few Custom Post Type WordPress Plugins (before Gutenberg), and designed a modular Genesis Theme called Modulus-Pro that I used as a Boilerplate for future projects.

Energy around Gatsby

What in the world is GatsbyJS? I could not look at Twitter without seeing that word Gatsby. So, I peeked my head around the corner to check it out. Mind you, remember I had spent twenty plus years as a hobbyist in technologies centered around Apache and PHP. I opened a Gatsby Starter in February 2019 with no JavaScript experience. It was hard, but I was curious how it worked.

I stepped through the incredible documentation and started to learn. I read through the outstanding issues on the repository. Because of the courses at Know the Code I was not afraid to try a Pull Request, so when I noticed a few bumps in the documentation, I opened PR's which are now part of the documentation. I found the staff, volunteers, and contributors at Gatsby very helpful and knowledgeable to a newbie. I even eventually contributed some to the code base (have a free T-shirt).

This experience led me to learn more about React and JavaScript. Countless hours learning on Udemy and other places. To date, I have contributed to over thirty open source projects, all because of my experience with Gatsby. In the late summer of 2019, it became clear to me the constant in my life had been technology, and I finally decided to transition this hobby to a professional career.

Flatiron School

In August 2019 I enrolled in Flatiron School and started the journey in this transition to a new career. Because I have a full time job, I started in the part-time Software Engineering curriculum. I became bored at first and when I completed the first project I was a full month ahead of my cohort. As I explained to my Tech Lead, "a while loop is a while loop. I know the theory I need to learn a new language." I moved to the full time curriculum, balancing work and studies, graduating in February of 2020. I found the Flatiron Community similar to Gatsby's - warm, open, and collaborative.


Well, I am a newly graduated Bootcamp student, with a two decade hobby, looking for my first job in technology in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. I remind myself daily that I am blessed, I am employed, and have a loving family. The dream will become real at the right time. I continue to develop a routine to code and learn eight hours a day during this quarantine.

My daily routine looks like this:

Thanks for reading and I hope my journey has inspired someone. Keep coding and follow your passions.