What I’m Looking For in a Job

I just spent a little bit of time making the autosuggest dropdown in Demo Tape work with the keyboard. Now you can use the arrow keys to navigate it, and the enter key to select an artist. It was fun.

As mentioned in my blog post about leaving grad school, one of the things I took away from the experience is that I enjoy creating things and solving problems through programming. I like the win of figuring out a way to make something work. So I guess I’m looking for a job where I can have that on a regular basis. A development job, obviously. And right now my learning efforts are focused on the front-end, with Angular and such, so I should probably focus my job search in that direction too. (Besides, while my last job was technically as a full-stack developer, I don’t think my ColdFusion experience is going to open too many doors in today’s job market.)

Most of all, though, one of the main things I’ve realized since beginning my efforts at self-education is just how much I have to learn. Web technology is incredibly fast-moving, and just in the year and a half that I was in grad school, things changed tremendously in terms of what kinds of skills were de rigueur. I pretty much had to pick an area and start learning, so I chose the MEAN stack, but there’s so much more out there that I still don’t know. So most of all, I want a job where I can continue to learn and tackle some of those other areas, whether it be another front-end framework such as React, a different back-end language, or a tool that I haven’t had a chance to work with yet such as Gulp or SASS. I’m looking for a place where I can contribute while growing my own skills. That seems like a fair exchange to me.

Education

Sometimes you don’t really know what you like until you stop doing it for awhile.

In 2015, I was a full-stack developer writing ColdFusion and jQuery, working remotely for a small company headquartered in Austin, Texas. I felt ready for a change, hungry for a new challenge. Rather than look for another web developer job, I decided to go for a much bigger change. I thought that I wanted to apply my programming skills to the field of science, by going to grad school for biomedical engineering.

I applied to Drexel University, and was accepted. During 2016 and the first half of 2017, I lived the life of a grad student. However, during this time, I gradually became disillusioned with my grand plan. I came to realize that the work of a scientist was not as glamorous as my (admittedly grandiose) dreams of making life-saving discoveries had led me to imagine. Due to the nature of the courses, I also wasn’t able to use my programming skills as much as I had hoped, although I did get some experience with Python and Matlab. Add to this the extremely high cost of the program and the length of time I would have to be in school before I could achieve my goal, and I began to see that it wasn’t worth it for me. I began to realize that I didn’t want what I had thought that I wanted.

I decided to leave grad school and look for a job as a web developer once more. I feel that I’ve come to appreciate programming more due to my time away from it. I enjoy the win of figuring something out and making it work, of running into an error message and searching the web for answers until I find exactly the thing that I need.

Since leaving school a couple of weeks ago, I have been working to get up to speed on technologies like the newest features of ECMAScript 2015, Angular 2/4, testing with karma and jasmine, node.js with express, and deploying to Heroku. I’ve decided to focus my learning on the MEAN stack for now, which consists of MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node. In my next blog post, I will write about the first MEAN app that I have built, and what I learned from the experience.