If I were to say “I get asked this a lot” I would be lying. I just know that the answer won’t really change over time, and this is a question that *I’ve* known the answer to for a while, but haven’t actually published anywhere.
I have 2 degrees from Auburn University. A BS in Wireless Engineering (yes, I know you’ve never heard of it) and an MS in Electrical Engineering (MEMS). This time was very valuable to me. I don’t regret it. I learned a lot.
I spent 2 years aboard a non-profit motor vessel, the MV Logos Hope that sells books to developing nations. This time was just as valuable for me and taught me things that I could never have learned in school. Things like: How to lead an international team of people who are more skilled than you; How good it feels to successfully complete a project that 400 other people are waiting on; What it feels like to be at sea for 12 days; The fact that I get seasick on the first day at sea.
I also learned that you can’t count on the economy staying the same over any given period of time. News of the financial crisis that shook the world was at best thin while on board. When I got home not only were no companies offering cars as hiring bonuses, but nobody was hiring at all now.
I (eventually) worked at Lockheed Martin for 4 years working on the <Stealth Aircraft>’s ESM testing and integration systems. I learned a lot there too. I learned that my dream of working for Lockheed Martin was just a dream being empowered to innovate. I also learned that a VERY small number of people get to innovate at companies of 100,000+ employees.
I’ve been around computers since before I can remember. My dad worked on computers in a home-based business, so I was raised knowing computers intimately. I was terrified of the idea of spending my whole career in a cubicle. So I studied hardware engineering.
But now I need remote work (thank you internet, for making this a thing!). Professionally, I would be considered a “Junior Developer” even though I’ve been programming in some way at some level or other for over 20 years. And my educational background is in hardware not software. 3 strikes. After realizing the “perfect storm” of those 3 strikes, I needed some help.
I can’t expect a company to take a gamble and invest in me if *I’m* not even willing to. So I decided to invest in myself and get a verification from an outside party that Yes Brian Can Code.
TL; DR: investing in myself for a third-party stamp of approval.