13 July 2016 | Life
8 min read
Burn the boats… a brutal but fitting metaphor
What I love about phrases like these is that though they are removed from any part of what we do now in our time, their message is reused and repurposed into something that fits our current situations. I am not the only person to have thought moving forward means we need to burn our boats and bridges. I faced a tough decision a year ago, a tough one that would have afforded my family a little more wiggle room in our budget or sent us down a spiral of uncertainty.
Where did I start, why am I doing this?
In July of 2015, my son had just turned a month old, my family was sliding backwards phenomenally each month into debt, and I was stagnant and unhappy in my position at work. There was an opportunity at my work to apply for a promotion. Yeah, Darian, promotions happen a lot when you work at a bank. But not for the branch I had been working at. Being there three years and all would have some merit into getting hired on as a higher position in the company, so I chose to apply for it. What I found was that I had more seniority over getting to choose when I wanted to go to lunch or take my vacation than I did with what promotions I was able to get. What they cared about was how much business I brought to the bank based on extra products or services I could vaguely recommend and hope to god they bite. I won’t go into everything but the way my mindset was about that situation was different than what the bank wanted me to do. I didn’t always agree that some things were best for the customer. I was in a vulnerable position.
So what do I do? I applied for the better position anyways. After a while of playing that game of interviews and it was revealed that I wouldn’t get the position, my eyes turned elsewhere. My goal, to find something that I can enjoy doing that helps a lot of people and still allows me to spend time with my love and our son.
Deus ex Machina
That is a tough criteria for something that doesn’t sound like a standard 40hr job, a unicorn job that I could be chasing for years. Maybe I could do call center work, or maybe that would be me doing non profit stuff. I turned my heads to the online job search engines and found something that fit the bill. It was the role of a marketing assistant and I knew that was something that I wanted. It would require updating and maintaining a website for a company, their branding, and any other search engine optimization things that the lead marketer would deem necessary.
I totally applied. Took a refresher course on HTML and CSS using CodeCademy, and went through those interviews as well. I even played the LinkedIn game where you find their hiring manager and get their attention… after a while they chose someone else.
So many cross roads… So little time
After that luck ran out, I had a lot of thinking to do. I can either keep looking for conventional jobs or choose to do something else. I spent a good time researching my criteria for jobs that allow me to do what I wanted to be able to do and applied to about 30-35 jobs, about 8 which called back for interviews. I wasn’t sure what my goals were but I knew that I needed more and more information in about making websites.
Armed now with the idea that I know HTML and CSS since I just took a refresher course of some language I learned for a month in high school, why wouldn’t I think now that the world is at my fingertips. I looked into web development and what it would take to get a job in tech. There were a lot of hoops but the goal was to provide for my family…
As the next two months would have gone by, there was a period of time in October — November where I didn’t have much time with my commitments to learn code. But I found a 3 month long technical course and decided to jump into it. It cost a lot of money, but that money was an investment to get us a little better off. I was able to better understand what was in my learning path and where I needed to put focus to be effective. I started to realize the more I learned, the less I knew. I had to choose if this was the route that I was going to take my family down. The boats had to be burned. My focus at work would be split from now on, one eye on keeping my job’s requirements satisfied, and the other ahead to what projects, people, communities, and activities would bring me forward in my career which I have talked about before.. This was the point I realized I needed something more.
Enter a community of the most helpful people in the world
Seriously. I didn’t think I needed to be around other people who had skills for making websites, they’re just competition to what I’m trying to do anyways. I didn’t realize the full value of what I was missing out on until I ran across the YouTube show devtips. I joined hastily and have since loved being part of that DevTips community. Any time that I am stuck I have somebody there who is willing to try a hand at what I’m doing, as well as I have the opportunity to help others learn and grow too. I embedded myself in that and the books I was reading to help get my skills to par. I was recommended some great books that are both centered around design and development. I was recommended podcasts and case studies. Everything that helped put me into the position I am in now.
It wasn’t a few months later I was recruited onto a wonderful team of developers as the lead designer to help them with an agency website. I will still have the freedom to work on any projects I take on for myself, but for now I am excited for the possibilities that are coming.
I am now confident in my ability for creating websites and designs to take on more clients and deliver custom solutions to the goals their brands and business take. .
What is my goal?
At the beginning of 2016, I had sat down and had a conversation with a few people and came up with a circle of friends who decided to make goals for the year. I hadn’t done this in many years myself but with each person came a challenging task for each. I thought mine looked pretty reasonable.
I want to help other people out and their businesses by offering my services as a designer and developer to achieve their goals. I want to be able to teach what I know as efficiently and widespread as I know how, helping others who have similar interests do the same. I wanted to be able to provide for my family in a way that allows me to be around when they need me to be and watch their hearts grow. I’ve started burning my boat and am stepping onto shore of a grand possibility. People say that it isn’t as glamourous as everything said. I disagree. This is what I love to do. I want to eventually turn this into a larger organization of designers and get them on board, but for now, my one man show is going to be enough.
I started here with this goal of getting everything on this list done just before the year’s end. I can say I’m about halfway there. I have half of the full stack completed for freeCodeCamp, started learning Ruby, I have gotten a job as a remote worker doing front end design and branding, as well as opened up for freelancing. I have half of my branding projects done as well as half of my portfolio site branded and finished. The only thing I need to work on is the projects, the freelance clients and putting some savings away to switch over to design full time.
If you want to set foot on the same path, you can checkout a fellow developer’s post on how to become a web developer for a good learning path. And for design, a great resource would be hackdesign.org for some great resources on learning design.
It takes a while to get used to working this hard. I’ve literally spent as much time as a full time job learning and getting my skills up to par. I work 40hrs a week at work and an extra 25 - 35 hours at home on design. As soon as there’s enough income to step into it full time. It’s game on, baby….