Saturday, November 7, 2015

This is how I got here, a long biography

Hello world!
That's sofa king cheesy but seriously how I feel. I'm Kacie. Your average WIT. I wasn't coding on a Commodore 64 when I was eight years old. I was playing with barbie dolls. I got a Nintendo when I was 6. I never beat Super Mario Brothers, but I kicked ass on all the Sonics on my Sega when I got a couple of years older. It's also how I learned to cuss.

When I was 15 I had a bff that had his very own personal computer. I was amazed. He went into these... chat rooms on this thing called mIRC. He talked to people all over the world! Being highly curious what went on outside of my own little box in my own little home town, this was quite intriguing.  When I was 16 I opted for a computer instead of a car. I discovered things like midi files, chat rooms, and web sites! I loved the graphics on the web sites as lame as they were back then. I loved to draw so paint was pretty neat to me before I discovered Photoshop. 

I became an anti-social computer nerd. I had one friend of mine come to my house because I was so sucked into my computer that she UNPLUGGED IT! I went into every file in Windows, I pointed and clicked my way around quickly and learned the OS quickly. It was all so new to me. I ended up dropping out of school and just getting a GED at 16. Then I stopped being anti-social and got into the ED scene.

I continued to play with Photoshop and make all sorts of graphics. I made a rave flyer for an event once. I knew I wanted to make web sites for a living. Whatever that entailed. I mainly wanted to do the design though. I continued to party until it got boring, then I met my ex-husband. We had a daughter. I was a hostess at a restaurant, and he was a server. I knew I needed to go to school so that I could support my daughter. So I did just that.

I got a job working at a Beer Distributer in my home town. My dad worked there as a salesman. They needed someone to make signs for them. It was about 20 hours a week. I used a program called Flexisign. I would make posters for bars, point of sale, even table toppers for restaurants. I eventually brought Photoshop into the mix so I could have better effects. I loved the job. It got me through school.

Me at the beer distributor with my big HP printer and color chart

I started school at our Community College. I was getting an 'eCommerce Certificate'. The teachers that were pushing for it had me take: BASIC, Advanced Databases, HTML, Logic, Accounting and I took InDesign as an elective. Here were my reactions to each class:

  • Advanced Databases was Access with queries. Loved the query language. 
  • Logic was well...logic. We made flow charts and what not. Had a really good teacher. It was a piece of cake. I didn't understand how some of the kids were failing it. I found it to be fairly simple and fun. Like puzzles. 
  • HTML we made a website. No CSS though. Was really simple. My teacher thought I had previous experience based off my site. I was his star student. Well, honestly, this was true for every class
  • Accounting was easy. My teacher said I should go into it as a major. I told her lolno. Math annoys me. Check's and balances. Too much risk, and making web sites is WAY more interesting. 
  • BASIC was neat. I really had no idea what I was walking into. I had never written any code. Our teacher had us using GOTO's all over the place. When my first program worked and I just printed some stuff out I was in awe. Coding was AWESOME. As the semester rolled along his assignments were really annoying with all these GOTO's. I mean, of course I was making straight A's but it was so tedious. Then, in the second half of the semester he told us about the magical WHILE loop. I tried it out and was so mad that I had to deal with GOTO's the first half of the semester. Assignments were even more of a breeze, and a lot of fun. 
Needless to say, the semester ended with a 4.0. My HTML teacher recommended me to make a site for one of the administrators personal business. I did this. I hooked PayPal into it. It was all table layout. I made all the graphics. It was pretty horrible, but back then, not bad. He loved it, and I totally got paid. Then my boss needed a site for some political campaign that he was running. Made it. Got paid. He also needed a site for the Mountain Valley Water portion of his business. It was pimpin' for real. Table layout with rounded corners. Sweet background I made in photoshop. Got paid. 

I guess making that site was around the time I started my second semester in my 'eCommerce Certificate'. This time it was COBOL. I can't remember any of the other classes. My COBOL teacher was my logic teacher. He expected a lot. Not just from me but from the class. He gave written tests and programming tests. I would fail my written tests because I don't need to learn that. When I run my code, and it had an error, it told me what I was doing wrong. Because I always ran my code, 100% on the programming tests every time. I made a B. 

Then the certificate failed due to lack of interest. The community college was behind in the technologies it was teaching, and didn't offer a degree I wanted. Since I was stuck in my small town with no big college, I sought out an accredited online university. I found myself getting a Bach degree in Software Engineering. We didn't learn about big O, data structures, and algorithms. We learned about Agile development, requirements gathering, computer networking, Java, UML, and SQL. More of the process of the software lifecycle. With some coding classes. There was a few classes focused on OOP. At the end of all the specialized curriculum, I had written a chat app in Java.

I Photoshopped my son when he was born, badly
Six months pregnant with my son, and eight months from graduation, I put my resume out there looking for a web developer position. I interviewed with a small company in Dallas that did a lot of print work for the Galleria, along with doing brochure type websites. I got the job.

There I learned CSS, more Photoshop, and even Illustrator. I played with some PHP and Javascript as well. My boss was really into using Drupal, so I learned to make Drupal themes. It was really new at the time. I also wrote a click tracking program for him in ColdFusion. This saved him from having to pay for a service to do it. I was able to design and implement everything on my own. 

Once I graduated and updated my resume with my current job, new skills, and a shiny new Bachelors Degree in Software Engineering with Summa Cum Laude, my phone was ringing off the hook. I was hired for a company doing PHP and Postgres.

It worked out too because my boss really didn't need me anymore. He was impressed with my new job offer and I still keep in touch with him every now and again. I very lucky to obtain this job in the middle of a big metropolitan area where my boss was a true advocate for WIT. I learned so much in the short amount of time I was there. It was time to move on though. More money and a brand new career.

His sisters came out well though 

I'll go over my other jobs and experiences there in another post. This is plenty for now. This post was to give you an idea of how I came to be interested in Technology and my impressions of being exposed to it for the first time. If you've read this far, thank you for taking the time to go through my adventure in learning technology and how I made it a career. 

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