When I was very young, I'm guessing about 8 or 9, I went into a brand new store that just opened called Best Buy. I walked in and saw some really amazing things. I saw music cds, a device called a Super Nintendo, computer software, and other electronics. I don't know why, but I was happy. There was this smell, which is hard to describe, but its the smell when you get something new and electronic. That was the smell I smelled when I went in. I loved it.
One place I was amazed with was the computer section. There were all kinds and different things on each screen. Each one was unique and had a different application. I looked at these for what felt like hours. I was drawn to them. I don't know what it was, but I felt both excitement and intrigue when I tried these machines out. I haven't felt like that with anything else since.
While looking over these computers, I noticed the different applications. One that stood out was a Snoopy application. I think it taught coloring, basic math, and English. It was a package in his signature Snoopy dog house. I played with it, and I thought it was fun, so I asked my parents if I could get it. Since I was a kid, I had no way of affording the high price of the software, and my parents were just getting by, so I never got the software, but in the back of my mind I knew that one day I would be able to do something like that. Perhaps that's how it started.
Then I was in third grade. We had a computer station about the size of a modern entertainment center on four wheels. They sat out in the hallway so they would not distract the students. Out of all the people in my class, I purposefully learned my lessons ahead of time and raced to get my classwork done just so I could boot up the computer. I would take on typing tutors and play Super Munchers to pass the time while everyone else was busy trying to figure out how to multiply 8 by 13. This went on the entire year, and I think I clocked more time on that computer than anyone.
There were several times in the sixth grade when I had the choice between going on Netscape and playing some kind of math rally game, or going outside and playing kickball or soccer. Nearly every time I chose the computer because I enjoyed tinkering with it. If someone messed it up, I fixed it. I showed others how to make it work. It was my passion, my drive.
In seventh grade there was an application, I think it was named along the lines of "Microworlds" or something. I started working with the program, more than the teacher wanted us to, and I created a virtual sandbox with a turtle that played music, changed color, and moved around using a system of Cartesian points. This was something I created just by tinkering with a simple program.
After that, as the years went by, we took more programs at school, and I would do everything in my power to manipulate them. I would skip cutscenes in applications, or tricked a typing trainer that I could type 50 different words a minute, or change a log saying that I typed more than I did.
I know things like this are hard for some people to understand, but its this drive, this curiousness, this passion that caused me to get interested in electronics and computers. I've always had an attraction to them since that day I went into the electronics store.
Haven't you always had a passion for something, wide or specific, that if given the chance that you would spend the rest of your life working or being around it that you would take that opportunity in a heartbeat? Sure, there are other times I could point out, like learning BASIC programming on the TI-83+ Calculator or using this blog to learn HTML right out of high school, years before I took the class. There are lots of little moments throughout my life that I can point to and say, "Yeah, that is a sign that I love this.". Unlike other hobbies, this one hasn't ever faded or gone away.
So I went to school learning how to repair computers. After I felt that I wasn't a particularly strong candidate for that field, I went into programming with my memories or the Microworlds and BASIC calculator programming in mind.
It ends up that I love it more than repair. Nothing beats the feeling like looking at an algorithm and saying "I made this. This is my baby." Its like selling your handmade clothes, purses or jewelry. You made this kind of dress, or just this particular one. You feel pride, and knowing that you did something that you enjoyed. That's how I felt when a web page that I coded went up live, or having my CSS win first in a course-wide contest, or going to Nationals for Skills.
I've put a lot of time and effort into these programs, learning things from console.writeline to threading with a shopping cart website. I continually received good grades, timely work, and quality of code. I made mostly A's, some B's and just one C, I think. I've spent hours trying to perfect my work, or just trying to make it work. I've spent my effort and discipline in that trade.
I had this cockamamie idea that I could do something with myself in this regard, that my skills would prove adequate to a perspective employer. I figured with over 100 credit hours of classes, years of hands-on experience, and classes that rival those of universities would work. I've spent six years of my life learning new things, new technologies. I've learned a lot and feel I have grown more than just a little competent in the field.
But no, that's all a big, fat, lie.
In fact, the world is a cruel place that only cares about people who can spend $100k getting a piece of paper that are still underqualified for the field. They want people with experience that are at a job that requires experience. They don't look at the qualifications, or don't care about them.
I've been to several interviews, and sent in dozens of applications. I have made cold calls and have tried finding an inside track with a place. What am I doing wrong? There are several jobs I know I can do out there if given the chance. Unfortunately, I will probably never be given the chance.
What really brought this on was a recent experience where I was told to show some examples of my online work. I figured I would put in my best, polished projects, maybe some sample code with carefully tabbed areas and lots of comments. I put together what is probably the best I can achieve right now. I got a reply a couple days ago that said, "After reviewing your material, we feel the position is not a strong match for you."
I followed the instructions, I knew the technologies mentioned in the job requirements, I was more than qualified. They were interested until they looked at what I can do, then suddenly became disinterested. This isn't the first time this has happened. This is pretty much on a continual basis. I guess, in short, is that I'm just not good at this stuff, and perhaps I should just throw in the towel.
I really don't want to give up on the 8 year old version of me, but maybe it was just a child's fantasy. Perhaps everything up until now is just a fluke. Perhaps my employers up until now have been right, thinking that the thing I do best is cleaning stuff.
The long and short of it is that I just give up. Evidently I'm not meant to do this kind of stuff. Perhaps the past few months of torture is a sign that I should just relegate myself to being stomped all over. The six years I spent getting two degrees might as well just be several thousand dollar pieces of toilet paper. I've tried everything from employment agencies to college programs, and if no one will accept me out there, then I've just been kidding myself for the past several years and that I'm no one special and that I should just grit my teeth and work at jobs where I will never be satisfied.
World - You've beaten me. I'm a broken man.