In every job interview I’ve ever been in, this question has always been asked. In the beginning of my career, I tiptoed around it, trying to justify my decision with anything that would change the subject. Hiring professionals aren’t typically super excited you bowed out of any challenge, much less a prerequisite on their job description.
However, it was right for me, and I stand by it firmly.
I started my Computer Science degree eager to solve the worlds problems, soaking up as many algorithms and data structures as I could. Any programming assignment had my full attention, and anything else fell to the wayside.
Three years in, and I had completed the majority of the programming classes; and I was stuck. Stuck in networking. Stuck in Artificial Intelligence and Linear Algebra. I just wanted to program. I wanted to solve real world problems, not how to convert machine code.
So I built my personal website. Java didn’t have an entry level to build a personal website.
And then I found PHP.
I’m thankful every day - most days at least - I opened those PHP tutorials on YouTube. I was building websites the same day I started. Same concepts, but things just “worked”.
Every day after that led to another tutorial, another concept I was eager to learn. And every day of college was another slog through concepts I didn’t care about. But at night, I was creating terrible websites that I could share with the world.
And then I got incredibly lucky. I fell into a job listing looking for a PHP Developer. I studied for nights, and even minutes before the interview. Prime Incorporated took a chance on me and I’ll always be eternally grateful because it made me realize exactly what I wanted to be.
For another year I straddled school and a part time job developing websites. It became more clear every day that it was what I wanted to pursue.
So I took the leap, and I didn’t enroll for the next semester. Full time web developer, scared shitless I made the wrong decision.
I learned more that first year about web development than I ever could have from college. I made mistakes, I built incredible things. I’m still proud of the work I delivered those early years, if you don’t look too closely at the source code. I was solving problems, learning as I went.
What a magical world 2010 was:
I mean, MySpace still existed, the standards weren’t incredibly high.
When people ask me why I stopped going to school, I now answer their question without hesitation. It was right for me, and I’ve never looked back.