My First Job
A little over 6 months ago, I was working at a large chain retail electronics store, specifically in the computer repair department. You know the one I’m talking about, they wear the white shirts and goofy ties.
Let me tell you how my life changed over 6 months, from working in this retail store, to working remotely for a San Francisco tech startup.
While a computer repair job was excellent as my first job, six months ago wasn’t my first time working for that company.
I started working when I was 17, selling computers in that retail store. I honestly knew NOTHING about computers at that point comparatively. I thought I was good with computers back then, but there was so much more to learn.
After two years in sales, the manager of the PC repair department started letting me repair some computers between helping customers and I quickly found out I knew nothing at all.
It wasn’t all great but I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could and use all of the resources that company gave us access to learn. It really was the best first job experience for this field I could have asked for.
Eventually I got a new job as the IT guy for a small office and lived happily ever after.
I will spare you the details, but that office ended up being a nightmare swallowed in a pit of legal nightmares and toxic despair. It’s where we should send our most hardened criminals. It was ran by criminals in fact.
After escaping that, I found my way into another tech repair job and some time later, back at the original chain retail store.. fixing computers again…
School Was A Scam
It gets even better. All this time, I had also been attending school at the prestigious ITT Technical Institute. Remember them? You probably have seen them rap on TV commercials, or have driven past one (full disclosure I think this school didn’t have a rap commercial thankfully). This wasn’t really my idea of a great school to go too either, but pressure from family sort of locked me in.
I attended classes over an hour away 3 times a week, part-time for 3 years at this “school”. Then, I finally finished my Associates degree when the whole company gets shut down by the government for being a scam essentially.
They offered a worthless degree and what could barely be considered education in exchange for massive student debt. Lucky for me, their con game was student loans and I didn’t have any. I got out of there fairly lucky, minus my wasted time.
So now back at a (sorry to say) dead-end job, no formal education on record to speak of, and years wasted… I didn’t know what to do.
I knew I always wanted to work with computers but I was never sure what exactly. I also LOVE to teach. I spent years creating computer tutorials for YouTube on my old channel.
I turned to focus on something I had always had a passion for but never gave the full attention it deserved. Web Design and Development.
Next, I put together a list of things I wanted to achieve, a list of goals.
- I want to work for myself and be my own boss.
- If I can’t be my own boss, I want to work from home.
- Never wear a uniform again. I won’t.
- Learn web development
To brush up on whatever skills I had at the time and relearn everything web, I signed up CodeCademy.com, a website that has free web design and development courses. I started getting more familiar with NodeJS and VueJS, two things I am still working with and learning today.
I started trying to apply to any small web related job I could find, no matter what it paid. I just wanted the experience and resume glitter. But, I didn’t find much and I had a lousy resume for web development. My current job was proving ever more to be a dead-end and there was little I could continue to learn there.
I came up with a way to at least attempt to solve all of my problems at the same time.
To teach is to learn.
I learn best by teaching. You know you have truly learned something if you can go on and teach others.
I created a the TechSquidTV YouTube channel based around my web design progress. I would create tutorials as I learned, both to re-enforce my learning and to simultaneously create a portfolio for myself. I spent HOURS on every video, I’d assume 30+ to ensure it was a work of art, something that would actually be impressive on a resume, rather than some guy’s YouTube channel.
My thought was, I would either get hired to do web dev work, or I’d keep working part-time and try to make money on YouTube, and the better my YouTube did, the better my chances of getting hired.
I couldn’t lose.
Then Everything Clicked Into Place
Only two episodes into the show and I got an email back from a sponsor I had contacted. Making web development tutorials for beginners, I reached out to a cool “new” domain registrar named Hover with a proposal,
I’m making these beginner web development tutorials, and beginners need domain names. Let’s make a win-win for everyone, I promote your service, and you provide my viewers with a discount?
It may have been a little more complicated than that, but that is the gist of it. Of course I am also paid for my time in creating these videos.
I get to make the videos I want, I get paid to do it, and I’m growing my portfolio for my resume.
Hover actually came up with the idea of making a blog post about this, I’m stealing the idea.
And Then… SUCCESS
I got hired to work remotely for a small to medium-sized startup company in San Francisco!
To be completely honest, I could not have done it without the help of a good friend who put in a good word for me. I can’t stress how important networking is. A vouch from a friend isn’t enough to land a job, but it’ll at least get your resume in front of someone.
Full disclosure, I am actually in customer support personally. But I got the resume glitter and most of my other goals. Also, my particular form of customer support deals with all types of programming.
I moved to Philly, into my first apartment. I’m still making videos, though now not just web development. We’ll be having lots of Techy fun.
I’ll see you there!