Twenty years ago this month I began my IT career. I could not have imagined the journey and adventure that awaited me when I applied for that first job at Cousins Corporation. Though I’d been writing software personally for sixteen years at that point, I’d never been paid to do so. I had the skills, but no work experience. Thankfully, Guy Hoovler took a chance on me and launched my career.

For the next twenty years I’ve worked for about every kind of company imaginable. From family owned businesses with 100-150 employees, to startups with only two, all the way to companies like IBM and Intercontinental Hotels. I’ve done freelance, contract and full time. I’ve been through huge layoffs, and some extremely bad work situations. I’ve also worked on some exhilarating projects and met some incredible people. To this day I remain in contact with at least one person from every full time job I’ve had and all but one contract job (10 out of 11 overall).

I’ve had the wonderful blessing of being able to learn from so many mentors, the first of which, was my own father. When I was seven, he was a teacher for a private school in Clearwater. The TRS-80 Model 1 had just come out and the school bought him one so he could learn to use it, learn to program and start a class teaching the 7th and 8th graders how to code.

Every night when he came home from school and sat down to learn, I sat right beside him. Since that time, so long ago, I doubt I’ve ever gone more than one week without writing code.

I continued to meet mentors who shaped my thinking all through school, and then as the opportunities came in the professional world, mentors and peers helped push me to new levels I could never have anticipated.

It’s amazingly fitting, that on this day I start as a full time instructor for The Iron Yard. My job will be to not only teach Ruby on Rails syntax, but more importantly, teach how to think like a software engineer, and how to learn any language one chooses. My hope is that I can be a mentor to these students as so many were to me over the last twenty years. I also fully expect to learn from my students. I’ve found that I have learned so much from those juniors I’ve hired over the years. At first it surprised me, but now I look forward to it. Everyone you work with is an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Overlook no one.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone at The Iron Yard for my next adventure. I hope I can be as beneficial to those I work with and teach, as I know you will be to me.

To close out my post, I’d like to list as many people as I can think of who have contributed to my twenty years in this profession, but as I started to do so I realized it would be well over 100, and I’d be sure to leave someone out. So instead, let me just say thank you to everyone who has either mentored me, taught me, hired me, worked for me, or generally made the work day a more pleasant experience. You have helped make this a memorably journey I will always treasure.

Now…on to new challenges, with new amazing people.