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Catching Up to 2014

My last update was about this time year ago. At that time I was starting to feel a need for a change professionally. I had been working doing Rails and JavaScript at shopittome.com and I was thinking that I might want to pursue something different. I loved the team there though so it wasn’t particularly urgent for me to leave but then Fate made a move.

I received an email from a recruiter (nothing new) but this one had actually taken a look at my work and at my conference talks and wanted to know if I had ever considered putting my skills and interests into teaching. He also asked if I would be willing to talk to some of the staff at devbootcamp.com.

A Path Not Chosen

The truth is this, I had thought about teaching a lot…once. See back in the fall of 1999 I was doing the interview thing at the School of Business in Austin. I thought that my best bet was to get a job doing IT work, I was going to earn a Bachelor’s in Business, after all.

But I was not doing particularly well in interviews. In part because my electives I was not loading up in IS topics like Oracle, or PeopleSoft, or Advanced Data Communication. No, I was taking languages, art history, and working on my Philosophy double major.

By October (ah, ever October) I was starting to think that I needed to make some alternate plans that might consider being a Philosophy graduate student / Ph. D. As it happened all my threads of fate converged. While studying for the GRE I dropped a resume off and went back to work. The next day I did a preliminary interview with Cisco, I took the GRE and Fortuna spun forth my destiny.

As it happened, a few interviews later, I had a job offer from Cisco Systems of San Jose, CA and an uncertain future in higher education. Given that at that time the Silicon Valley was pumping out optionaires left and right, taking a risk on, what is now called, the “tech bubble” seemed like a worthy risk. So I postponed my dreams of higher education and my dreams of blowing the minds of starry-eyed students in wooden lecture halls. I told it to wait and wait it did.

Until that recruiter called. Like a patient dog awaiting its master’s return, that old philosophy student dream woke up and said: “Teaching? Teaching? Is it my turn now?”

Visit

I told the recruiter I’d be willing to come by and visit. After several visits, code reviews, code approach demonstration, etc. I received an offer and began 2014 teaching Ruby, Rails, and JavaScript at devbootcamp.com a.k.a DBC. The business side of me which had been in control for so long was told to swap places with the teacher-philosopher student of winter 1999.

This Past Year

It’s been an amazing experience because foremost DBC lets me be me, as a teacher. Nay, verily it’s encouraged. It’s an organization that promotes individuals bring their whole, honest selves to work every day (warts and all!). I’ve learned so much in both technical and emotional capacities that I’m certain I’m a better teacher, student, friend, and human for it. I’m very thankful.

Pedagogically, I see technology from a very philosophical place. I toss in my linguistics history, my philosophy background, my theological background and use it to color the history of thought that underlies programming. It’s the two topics that I’m most excited and passionate about and up “on stage” is one place where I hopefully get to joyfully tie these two disciplines together and, with any luck, inspire those who seek to join the ranks of software developers.

My students constantly challenge me to think differently and to try new things. The school and its design has pushed me to speak, to articulate, to clarify, and to test so much material that I “sorta had.” I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Also, enjoy an allotment of development / research time and that’s rejuvenating and affords us the chance to go deeper, to refine, and clarify, and then to share into the DBC community. It’s a really special place full of people who think about technology and communication from a wonderful variety of directions. There aren’t many places where the subtle implications of the technological collapse are likened to the plot of Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s Castle (magic we can’t do any more, everyone is relegated to a maintainer, like American cars in Cuba).

In early spring I was even asked to come and guest teach at our new New York City campus. It was a great chance to meet a DBC school in its infancy. It felt different, and yet still the same: different teachers, different students, a different market to server: yet still the same belief in hard work and making beautiful and meaninful things.

After returning back to SF we settled back into our old routines and I was able to help several phases of DBC grads head out the door but something wasn’t right: some personal dimension was going yet unfulfilled. I thought that it might be related to the wonderful dog we let into our home (more on that elsewhere) but I think I came to realize what was missing: change. I live but a few blocks away from my work, I have a nice home, I have a wonderful and supportive girlfriend, I even have an adorable puppy.

We were stagnating. My fault? Certainly in part. San Francisco’s fault? Certainly in part. A change was needed and it’s now here.

To Be Continued…

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