Hello World - This is Devstache


22 September 2018

Last Edited: 23 September 2018


In 2015 I decided to make a change, working in the offshore oil and gas industry, the oil slump had my city (Aberdeen) by the throat and the winds of change were well and truly blowing a north easterly direction. 🌬️

I could see the career that I once thought would see me out until retirement slowly eroding, the terms and conditions that we all took for granted being nibbled away at. πŸ€‘

I always considered that the rotation that I was working gave me a good work life balance, however a heavy and aggressive push from upper management was trying to destroy this balance by introducing additional time away from home. 🏠

In 2015 my first child was born, It was at this point that I realised that I no longer wanted to work away from my family and wanted to free myself from the financial chains that working for an Oil major places you in. Now don't get me wrong, the money was not the issue and I'm sure a lot of people would have killed to be in my position, however with the salary comes an attitude from others that, I am paid well so just be quiet and get on with it, which is no way to live your only life. πŸ‘Ά

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So...with all that said, what to do? How does a 30 something oil worker with no serious qualifications and a million non-transferrable skills create a new life for himself and his family? I knew what I wanted to do, but how do I make it happen?

Ever since I was in school, I had an obsession with computers, from joining in with the lunchtime computer club to tinkering with our family’s 486 at home throwing together basic webpages with notepad. Eventually discovering the HotMeTaL editor which really allowed me to show off my skills and create various fan pages for bands and tv shows. πŸ’»

I followed this passion through to university where I started a Computer Science degree at Aberdeen University, this was a short lived venture due to a combination of immaturity and the experiences of leaving the nest. 🍺

A few years and a few low paid jobs later, a friend of mine working for an oil service company managed to get my foot in the door due to an over inflated oil price a shortage of experienced workers and that I just so happened to know how to turn a computer on. Absolutely no experience and as green as grass, this was the start of a career that would last me 15 years. πŸ›’οΈ

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My journey to becoming a developer isn't straight forward. If you google "how to become a web developer", you will be directed to a multitude of stories about people sitting through a 6 week boot camp and landing developer jobs straight after. πŸ•οΈ

This is certainly possible, many developers do not have formal qualifications as it is a skill which simply takes time to learn and all of the resources to do so are available online. πŸ•ΈοΈ

I signed up to Udemy and started working through some of the free courses. It was at this point I realised that in the 15 years I had spent out of touch with web development, technologies and languages had moved on exponentially. It was no longer a case of throwing come HTML elements and image together with a dash of CSS, there was PHP, JavaScript, SASS, Angular, React, WordPress, Node, NoSQL, JavaScript on the server..what? I am truly out of my depth. 🌊

This tsunami of information did however make my decision to go back to University much easier, it will allow me to get a taste of most new technologies whilst under the guidance of specialists rather than simply winging it by myself. Also having the benefit of a decent salary and time off made an online degree through the Open University the most attractive choice. πŸŽ“

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I enrolled in their BSc Computing and IT following the software path, this course gives a good range of skills from web development (cloud computing, REST, PHP, JavaScript, web architecture) to Computer Science (data structures and algorithms, mathematics etc), which should hopefully help me through the all important "whiteboard" interview stages that tech companies covet.

However, through studying my first year I soon realised that this degree, although providing a great foundation would leave me woefully unskilled in the job market, as web technologies move so fast and well outpace the content of the degree modules. I had to do something else to gain the skills nessessary for the workplace.

It was then that I discovered a podcast called Syntax, run by two full time developers Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski. I absorbed the entire back catalogue of episodes and took stock of what technologies to focus on. I decided to focus primarily on a JavaScript stack, the main benefit of which is that it can be run on the front and the back end, meaning I only have to learn one language. πŸ€“

Udemy and Scott Tolinski's LevelUp Tuts provided the majority of my online courses which I would study on a night when I had completed all of my OU work. As much as I felt that the online courses were of a much more practical use than the degree, I want the degree to show that I have the foundation and to increase my employability. As well as to make up for bailing out of University the first time, I know I have the intelligence to finish it, only now I have the maturity πŸ’©.

As of today I am 3/4 of the way through my second year and about to start my first third year module and been passing everything with flying colours. I am planning on doing some OU module reviews in the near future for anyone looking at this same course.

Anyway to finish, this blog will hopefully serve as both a diary for my journey and as the basis for an online portfolio.

Hopefully it will also serve to inspire others who feel they are in the wrong job and want to make a positive change.

Thanks for reading.

Ross πŸš€