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A Return to Software Engineering

kevhines profile image kevhines ・2 min read

The question for me isn’t why I decided to study Software Engineering, but why I came back, because I’ve been here before.

In 1997 when I was getting ready to graduate with my Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering I knew I wasn’t going to be working in Chemical Engineering. Even before I graduated I found myself more interested in my programming electives. It felt more tactile, more real, more fun. Building a program felt similar to how I’d imagine building a house or car might feel (I might never know since I struggle to even hammer a nail in straight). The code encompassed a series of small programs that when combined could do so much more. When a program that I wrote ran successfully I truly understood it. When it didn’t run I knew the answer was waiting for me.

So after graduation I got a series of jobs that involved various levels of programming. Somehow by 2010 I had gradually slipped away from that track and found myself teaching improv and sketch at the UCB Theater in NY and that led me to running their school. This wasn’t something I ever studied or aimed for but I was the best fit for the job at the time and so there I was. I always knew, long term, I couldn’t stay there but one year followed another and the people I worked with were nice so I stayed. I always knew I’d step away and return to programming someday. Covid-19 got me to take that step.

It didn’t take me long after the pandemic started to decide what I wanted to do to get back to programming. It had been 10 years away and I had never formally studied programming. A few electives in college and then a lot of jobs where I self-taught (or learned under a co-worker) helped me work in PASCAL, ColdFusion, Perl, PHP, SQL, with the necessary HTML and a basic understanding of JavaScript and a dollop of CSS. But 10 years in the programming landscape is an eternity and I knew I needed to get a handle on object orientation, dynamic web pages, and newer languages. I knew I needed to get better at writing code that read clearer, code that was simple and functioned better. So I decided to take the time and learn it right.

Now I am at Flatiron, I finished all the prep work Flatiron offered before day 1 of my class and now am finishing up the first mile at their full time program. I have already refreshed old skills, learned new skills, and gotten stronger as a programmer. I am excited to continue to grow and learn as I finish the program, and am excited for where this takes me next.

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