Transitioning to Software Development

Duane OdumUntil last year my work history as an adult included 4 years in the United States Army as a Networking Switching Systems Operator/Maintainer,  1 year as project manager for a broadcasting company, and 7 years as a professional dog trainer. During a particularly slow time for my dog training business I came to the realization that I needed to go back to school and get a degree in a field that would be a necessity for many years to come.  After doing some research I decided to enroll in a Computer Information Science program with an emphasis on programming.

My wife initially questioned my decision as I had enough military experience to eliminate a year and a half worth of schooling if I chose to pursue a degree in Networking. However after some discussion she was convinced that it was the right decision and I jumped into the adult college student role head first.  The first year of college was not really that difficult as far as course work was concerned but I had to give up the dog training business and take a job as a metal fabricator to give myself a more flexible schedule to efficiently manage my studies.

As I began my sophomore year in college I began to realize that programming was far more involved than I ever realized.  I continued to plug away on my studies as the students who initially enrolled in the same degree program as I did began to change their majors or simply drop out.  Most of my classmates bailed on programming when we took our second C# class and we started to discuss the concepts of inheritance, polymorphism, and other “scary” words.  I just kept studying and eventually began to understand that I would be spending the rest of my life learning, which was a pretty exciting concept.

I obtained a temporary position halfway through my junior year that enabled me to get some great hands on experience with some excellent people. Although I did learn a great deal in the 3 months that I worked for that organization the most important thing that I learned was that I still had a lot to learn.  Sure, I knew what everything meant and I did not feel at all lost when discussing the projects or concepts used in developing but putting everything together was going to take some serious effort on my part.

Fast forward almost a year and I am still learning something new on an almost daily basis.  I think that might be the hardest part of any career transition, in most cases you go from feeling like an expert in your field to knowing very little in relation to others in your new field.  It can be a hard pill to swallow but nothing worth doing is easy, every journey starts with one step, or just insert your own favorite quote on perseverance here because that is really what any transition is all about, perseverance.

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