Just Finished School

Well, that’s it. Tonight I turned in my final project and have completed the entire curriculum for a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Information Technology with a Concentration on Application Programming. It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to writing this post, mostly because it signifies the end of a big chapter in our lives. When I started this process of getting back into school, Jessica and I were living in Pacific Beach, working as bartenders, and hoping that maybe once I finished school I’d be able to get a decent job as a web developer. Jessica was pregnant with Ava, and the simple fact that we were going to become parents made me feel like a change in professions and lifestyle was in order.

There was no way we could have expected things to take off the way they did. By the time school started I already had my first real tech job. I was a production developer at Scrollmotion in La Jolla by day and a student by night. I remember coming home from work those first few nights after school started with a sinking feeling in my stomach because I knew that I had several hours of homework awaiting me. Over the last few years I’ve grown so accustomed to that reality that the concept of coming home now and not needing to work on anything feels very foreign.

The fact that I was able to get the job at Scrollmotion before finishing school was a surprise, but there’s no way we could have seen Amazon coming. I’m still shocked at how that all went down, and honestly had I known the path I would have to take and how low the chances of it working out actually were, I wouldn’t have gone for it. We were more than happy in San Diego for the time being and wouldn’t have been interested in taking such a giant leap of faith, especially with Jessica then being pregnant with Elise.

Again, its crazy that all this was going on while I was in school. Obviously my school and career path was nowhere near normal, but worked out due basically to determination and blind faith. I don’t want to make a big deal about the achievement of finishing school or switching careers, but I do want to use my experience as a lesson to my kids on how not to do things. You’re going to hear me say this plenty of times in the future so we might as well start now: Go to school when you’re young. Don’t wait until you’re in your 30’s like me, with a family and career to balance. Study something you love without regard to money and profession. You’ve got the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do, so study something that makes you happy.

With the girls getting bigger it’s been getting tough to watch them and do homework at the same time, so it’s going to be nice not having to worry about that anymore. I’m mainly excited to get to spend more time relaxing at home with Jessica and the girls, although getting to study stuff that I want to study, and getting to work on cool freelance projects, are also things that I’ve been looking forward to. I probably won’t end up with nearly as much free time as I initially expected, but right now it all looks really good.

I’m so thankful for everything Jessica has done throughout this whole process. There have been so many nights where she took on all the kid duties because I was busy doing homework. She deserves a break more than anyone and I’m glad I can start doing a little more to help out. Right now the changes related to being done with school are hypothetical because tonight is just like any other night after finishing an assignment, but when coming home from work this week, or trying to make plans, it’s going to hit me that I no longer have to deal with this huge time commitment.

There were a few times where I thought about not going through with school. Not because it was too hard, but because it just didn’t feel necessary. This especially became an issue once I secured a full-time spot at Amazon. Although I have no doubt that getting my education had a positive effect on my career, it was tough to justify at times. Ultimately it came down to setting the right example for my kids. If Mommy and Daddy could do it, so can they.

In addition to learning more about my profession and industry, school taught me a lot about myself and how to be responsible. I learned that I am fully capable of teaching myself anything related to coding and web development. I wasn’t much of a lecture guy in school and preferred to study the material on my own and figure it out. I also learned that I thrive under pressure. A lot of good things have happened to us while I’ve been in school and the common denominator amongst it all was staying busy and working hard. I learned that I like learning, and that I picked a profession that requires you to stay current with technologies, meaning that I will probably always be in ‘learning mode’. Finally, I learned that I like to stay busy. The older I get, the more I can’t stand laziness. I seriously don’t do well when I have nothing to work on or obsess over. I’m just glad that I now get to focus the intention of that work or obsession to things of my choosing. My new favorite thing to obsess over is the house, and our yard. I’m already starting to become one of those yard guys and it kinda freaks me out.

In one of my software engineering classes during this last quarter we were instructed to choose a project we had worked on, either in school or elsewhere, and use it as a basis for examining a variety of topics related to software engineering and development. For no reason other than familiarity and accessibility, I chose to use the Family Recipes application I did last year. This meant that throughout the quarter I’ve been revisiting and writing about that application quite a bit. Although I never could have planned it this way, when it came down to the final paragraph of a 35 page report I had created on that application, and the reality that this was my final paragraph to write in a school paper set in, I found myself not really writing about anything technical, but instead about family, food, and recipes. Probably not exactly what my professor had in mind but it felt like the right way to go out.

They say today is the first day of the rest of your life, and corny as it may sound, it has never felt more true to me than right now. Jessica and I have been talking about the future, and me being done with school, for a while now, and it’s weird that we’re finally there. Just in time for Summer too. With Amy coming out for an extended stay in July, Jess and I are going to make a point to get out and do stuff we normally wouldn’t do. Gotta take advantage of this freedom when we can. The fact that we’re in our own home now as well makes it pretty surreal. I’m not trying to sound like Phil Jackson here, but its so easy to set your mind on a particular time or achievement that you forget to enjoy the journey and the moment. Nana and my Mom always said ‘Life is what happens when you’re making plans’ and I never really understood what they meant until I got older. School was a good experience for me, which I will relate to the start of my family and my career, rather than early adulthood and drunken debauchery like most. It represents the greatest time in my life (to date), but I’m now more than ready to see what the next chapter has in store for our family.

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