Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Career Change (My Job Journey Part 6)

My wife, my parents, even I knew that I wouldn't be in the printing industry forever.  With the advent of the internet, print media would never command the same influence or resources as it had previously.  While I was a pressman, I bought a book on HTML and tried to teach myself but couldn't get into it.  I was learning through a process of trial and error that I don't learn efficiently on my own

During that time my brother went through a 9 month intensive IT training course for people who already had university degrees.  I couldn't believe the job offers he got what he was finished.  He had two offers from companies in different countries at 60k+ USD a year.  This was more that I could hope to make in printing even after I got another promotion - I wouldn't see that kind of money for 20 or 30 years.

That was all we needed to convince ourselves to put our house up for sale and try to enroll me in the same school.  I had to see if I could qualify for admission.  I didn't have a degree, and that was one of the stated requirements for students.  Apparently they had taken students without a degree in the past, though.  These students had to write and exam and a paper as to why they felt they should be considered for admission.  When trying to gain admission to schools or even trying to get a job, 'no' doesn't always mean no.  Put differently, requirements are guidelines, not rules.  Don't disqualify yourself because you don't appear to 'qualify' at a first glance.  I wrote the exam and did the essay and was ecstatic to get accepted to the school.

Tuition was expensive, so I also had to take out a student loan.  Getting out of high school, I was mortally afraid of getting into debt for an education that I wasn't sure was 'me.'  Now, with a family to support, I was doing just that.  Going back to school at the age of 30.  It was high stakes and I simply had to make it work and 'go for broke.'   Want some motivation in evaluating your direction in life?  Put a lot on line...

Vancouver, BC
I started school in January 2001 and that spring saw the beginnings of the 'dot.bomb' era in the stock market.  Up to this point, investors had been bullish (enthusiastic) about investing in IT companies.  However several large IT companies had posted questionable numbers that spring (Nortel being the main Canadian example) and the bubble burst causing stocks to slide.  As a result many IT companies went into receivership...  including the IT school I was going to.  While our school was closed, the receiver kept the Vancouver school open.  They gave us a living allowance and had us finish school there.  Because of all this I knew the IT job market was going to be tough to get into for a 'newbie' like me.  I consequently tried to get a certification in Java programming while I was still in school.... and I failed that test.  I resolved to write the test again after school was done (and I had more time to study for it).  Upon finishing school, I studied for two weeks, wrote the test and passed.   Significant personal investments of time or money have a way of pushing you to work hard.

Returning back home, I spent most of the next 10 months looking for work.  I called every software company in the yellow pages listings one by one, and asked for a job.  When I was turned down, I learned to ask if they knew of any other companies that were hiring.  I got a 2 month contract this way, but I completed it with no further opportunities.  We had been living off of our student credit line and in the end I had to take a job framing houses with a friend to make ends meet.  This felt terrible, kind of like a surrender.  However, after 4 weeks of framing houses, I got a call from a large IT consulting company who was interested in hiring me because of the Java certification I had persisted in obtaining after school.  If you have a goal, don't let failures or set backs stand in your way.  Persist, focus, and determine to accomplish it.

As badly as I wanted that java developer position, I managed to get lost driving to the interview.  (This was before the days of Google Maps)  Realizing I was going to be late, I phoned to let them know I was lost and confirmed the directions to the office.  I learned a big lesson there:  For important meetings and interviews, always double check the address and location of the meeting place.  Give yourself extra time to get there and never assume you know the way.  Fortunately, I did well on the interview and they offered me the job.

For the rest of my Job Journey and to read other career profiles, check out my Career Path Profiles page here or follow the links below:

No comments:

Post a Comment