I spend most of my time in front of my code editor just playing with code. Sometimes I’ll just work on website projects that no one will ever see and serves no purpose other than being an outlet for me to explore some curiosities and ideas that float in my head. I get lost in the different challenges and feeling of gratitude when things work, sometimes even better than I hoped. There was a time when it felt like I would never be good enough to get a development job or be able to produce anything useful to anyone. The small wins came slowly but just frequently enough to keep me going. Here is why I love website development.
One day, young 20-year-old Charles was approached by a college recruiter from Anoka Tech. I was volunteering at a youth center in Minneapolis at the time. The recruiter offered to help a couple of the other volunteers and me enroll in one of their programs. The IT program seemed the most interesting to me.
The only thing I knew about IT was that a job in the field comes with a good salary and that I could even work from home. Sign me up for both.
So, I got enrolled, bought my first laptop, and got ready to begin the work of learning a new skill!
After I graduated, I got an interview for a job I was very excited about. All my hard work was finally about to pay off! I just knew I would get hired and finally get to quit the dishwasher job I had at the time. Except, the interview process was a complete disaster.
I can still feel the pain of being in the small interview room hoping for a life raft to save me as I drowned in a sea of technical questions to which I had no answers. My interviewers seemed frustrated with me like I was disrespecting them by being there. I mean, I didn’t invite myself to the interview. Finally, I got to leave. I was feeling crushed and defeated, but also really pissed off.
What happened? Why didn’t I have answers to the questions asked? I paid attention in class, completed most of my assignments, met with my instructors, and worked to learn things on my own. None of that mattered. I was relegated back to the dirty part of the kitchen to scrub pots and pans. The door slammed shut in my face and worse, by arrogant dorks probably born with silver computers in their mouths. My upbringing was different. No silver spoons or computers. No computer at all until I earned enough money from working to buy one myself. Forget just getting a job with good pay, becoming a great developer meant something more to me now. Now I needed to prove something.
Some changes would be needed for me to succeed in my new objectives. The first thing to change was my sleeping pattern. I’d wake up a few hours earlier than I was used to so I could go through some C# tutorials before work. I would bring smaller lunches to work to finish eating quickly and use the rest of my lunch break programming on my laptop. After work, I’d stop at a local library to practice what I learned in a quiet space.
Slowly my skills grew, and I’d eventually get my first programming job. The new job didn’t take the chip off my shoulder but gave me even more time to dedicate to my craft. And that’s what website development became for me throughout the journey - my craft.
I mean more than what I do to pay the bills or what I do for fun when I have some free time. Programming has become a means of expressing who I am. How much I care, or how well I persevere through adversity is all reflected in the applications I build. Sure, there’s so much going on in the background of web apps that the world never sees most small details, but I can see it. What I see in my work teaches me about my creativity and resourcefulness. Diving into code allows me to enter a different world, similar to how musicians or athletes seem to be able to. In this world, I can step back and see the person I’m becoming. I am happy with what I see.
Launching Pad for Community Stewardship
The pathways that come with website development are also something that excites me. One can use this skill like I did to get a good job or to start a web development business. No business in the world wouldn’t benefit from having a well-designed and highly functioning website. I envision ways this skill can make improvements for the communities near me, which is more important than just making money.
Leaving the world in a better place than what we find it. That should be a goal for everyone, and I can start chipping away at this task here in my community. Website development gives me a pathway to do that. I can help local business owners and entrepreneurs with their websites and achieve the goals they’ve set for their businesses. Small business owners in my community do not have to rely on website builders like Wix or Squarespace to build their sites and struggle through technical documentation when they get stuck. Instead, I can be the local website developer to help make the perfect website for local businesses. Better yet, I can teach people who are coming up like I did to be that local website developer!
The possibilities and opportunities are limitless. And this is why I love website development!