Music. Audio engineering. That was going to be it. My "calling". My chosen career path. A done deal. But what if it wasn't? Surely it's not easy to make a career transition after school and six years dedicated to a chosen path. But what if it's possible to find a calling elsewhere?

I love a great sounding record more than most things, so why not try to have a career in technology and be the engineer of some great sounding records? This brought me across the country, from my hometown outside of Philadelphia to Tempe, Arizona to learn the craft.

Little did I know, making records was not in the cards. "Bedroom studios" have all but erased the dream of a budding lucrative career as a recording engineer. So out of school, I moved to Seattle and set up an internship to work in my first of many dingy, sour smelling, last-night’s-beer-all-over-the-console rock clubs.

Don't get me wrong, I loved mixing live sound. Crafting a new version of that band's set, every night, with a completely different set of conditions, gear, and environment. It was a welcome challenge, every single time.Bands hired me -- rock bands, pop bands, DJs, metal bands, you name it. I toured the world, relatively nonstop; the 200-250-days-a-year breed of non-stop. What could be better?

Home could be better.

That’s right, home. Personal relationships. Many can do it, but in moments I found myself questioning my ability, or desire to. I kept asking myself, “how does this pan out?” I had no experience outside of the music industry. And what was I to do? Move to LA and book and manage bands, or stay in my new home of Dallas, work A/V, and get a job as a house engineer at a club or theater? Nothing sounded enticing compared to my touring job. It started to become clear that I had two choices: Continue down this road, tour and try to find a seemingly unobtainable balance, or maybe find my calling in another line of work where a door hadn't yet opened.

I had always been drawn to web development and interested in a career in coding. I had a knack for mathematics and the sciences in school, and always thoroughly enjoyed a good user interface and design. While keeping my eyes and ears open for opportunities, I ran into a friend at a party who worked at Dialexa, a technology and product innovations company in Dallas. "You should learn!," he said, and why not, I happened to have a couple of months off from touring over the holiday season.

He gave me his credentials to Treehouse, an online coding school, which I immediately became immersed in (if you're looking for other coding classes, try Lynda or take a class from Tech Talent South). The concept of "tracks" made the expansive site hosting hundreds of courses very manageable. I jumped right into the front-end development track. The courses started slow enough to not put me out, but not too slow, which I find is very important. I had experienced learning to code before but nothing had grasped me quickly enough to keep me going.

I flew through the ~60 hour track in about a week and a half, and I was hooked. The problem solving and math of javascript, the structure of HTML, and the graphic/visual architecture of CSS gave me gratification on all levels. "Give me all the BEM modifiers and Array.prototype functions you've got," I said. Soon after, I took an opportunity to tour the Dialexa offices. The offices were airy, welcoming, open, and with a buzz of friendly collaboration between the many disciplines that cohabitated in the space. It was hardware, it was development, it was design, and everything in between. For my first experience in the startup tech environment, I felt excited and welcomed by it. I was offered an internship on the spot. Ha! Why not, I was an incredibly effective developer with a whole 2 weeks of experience - Wait. What!? You mean, I now have a career in technology?!

Looking back, it kind of makes sense.

Yes, making a successful career transition is about “who you know” and “what you know”, but it’s also about having the right attitude, and a willingness to do whatever it takes.

3 key things that helped me successfully transition into the technology industry:

1. Be Curious.

This industry is quite different from ones I had been a part of in the past. A positive outlook and willingness to learn are paramount. Even if the skillset in the field hasn’t yet developed. 

2. Jump in.

If you are interested in a career in coding, you almost have to TRY to miss the resources available to learn, for whichever discipline you choose (i.e. Treehouse.com, as I mentioned earlier). Not everyone in the tech industry needs a degree in computer sciences. I sure as hell don’t have one! There’s a huge need for people who can grasp a concept, and know how to ask the right questions to implement it...and there’s a growing number of resources out there to help you make the leap.

3. Continue to work.

Once hired, take every opportunity you have to learn more. I was scared shitless, but more than that, wanted to learn as much as I could to live up to the opportunity I was given; an opportunity which, to this day, I am insanely grateful for. I wanted to be as helpful as I could, as quickly as I could. It helps to be at a company full of folks who are willing to help, who are happy to turn on the firehose to help you learn. It also helps they’re humble, and damn smart. For every issue that arose, my questions were met with helpful explanations, and efficient, succinct solutions.

Onward, progress

Since then, to this day, the learning hasn't stopped. For the most part, I've been working in the Ember.js framework. Being a javascript framework, it has worked wonders on my javascript knowledge base, while keeping me on the edge of innovation in the web. I think above all things, that is what has kept me in it: the constant change, improvement and optimization. It’s a new challenge at each task and the chance for another small victory.

If a year ago you asked me to guess what I'd be doing at this moment, there'd be no chance in hell I'd fathom a life in an entirely different industry, much less having any business writing a blog post about it. But I suppose that's the way it happens sometimes. If I had to bestow one call to action to someone considering a career transition, I'd say “why the heck not”. You just might learn there are interests you've got that correlate directly with aspects of the tech industry. It's more expansive than you think. Try it out. Literally, anything could happen.

If you’re interested in joining the team at Dialexa, or starting your career in technology, check out our careers page.

To learn more about how we approach problem-solving for our customers, including our software development process, click the image below.

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