How did I land my first job in the tech sector

Landing That First Job

When I first attended college, I wanted to be a graphic designer. That was the early 90s.  I took random design jobs and eventually moved my way into being a creative director for an audio visual production house in TN. In the late 90s (Shortly after Y2K), I decided that TN was not the place for me and moved back to Seattle. I was going to work for a tech company that designed educational software. In spring of 2001, I packed up the car and started the drive back to Seattle. By the time I reached UTAH - The company I was currently relocating for, called to tell me that they were going under and were closing their doors for good.

With the loss of my job - My future in Seattle was now uncertain. I was forced to Couch surf at my friends apartment and take a job in a warehouse. This was an incredibly tough time for me. I essentially lived on a couch with nothing but a bag of rice to eat,  and a job moving furniture for minimum wage.  The Tech industry was collapsing and people were moving their family and lives across the country in search for jobs. I knew lawyers that were taking jobs as legal assistants.

I eventually found some stability and started up as a barista again. I also began seeing a girl whose family was very successful and they encouraged me to return to college and take some continuing education courses.

I took their advice and went to Seattle Central College to study Web design. I had already been building web pages for people and wanted to improve my programming knowledge. After the first year I began learning PHP and MySQL. With this knowledge I built a stock photo website as a final project and began freelancing to pay my way through college. I also created a portfolio page that I used to talk about technologies I was learning. With each lesson I that I learned, I would explain the lesson on my personal blog as part of my portfolio of work.  I started writing "White papers" (short papers explaining the basic fundamentals of a given subject). 

One particular paper I wrote was on the subject of "WHAT IS UX".  The idea of "UX" was not a new concept but the term - "Usability Expert" - was very new to the tech industry. Shortly after writing this paper and publishing it to my blog, I was inundated with requests from tech recruiting agencies to come to their office to explain my knowledge of UX to their team. UX had become the buzz word from Microsoft to Amazon and the agencies were having a hard time vetting people appropriately for the work space.  I happened to be in the right place at the right time and my demand went through the rood. Within a month, I was contacted by a recruiter for Microsoft started working with the SQL and Office teams on new software.  

All of that to say this:

I did not have work experience that was relevant to the sector I was starting work in. I did not have large clients. I only has simple freelance jobs that I was using to cover the costs of books (and Top Ramen) while in school. I was only trying to learn the best way I knew how. The blog was my way to prove to myself I understood what I was learning. It also became the thing that got me noticed. Blogs are now something I recommend to any student getting ready to enter the workforce. GitHub is another great place for programmers and developers to include samples of their work.  

For me, the ability to clearly explain the industry I was working in, and the ability (and willingness to share that knowledge with the outside world, created a demand and established me as an authority in my field. To this day, I continue to educate myself and keep a blog of what I learn. I share my knowledge with anyone that might find it interesting and, through my blog, I receive a lot of reviews and have managed to network with some incredible trend setters in the industry.