Frequently Asked Question
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Q: How did you make the move to programming?
A: It has been an interesting journey. That's for sure...

Just as I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a master's in family therapy, I decided to make a little extra money by becoming the Teen Advice Guide on About.com. This meant teaching myself enough HTML to apply for the job. Armed with Windows Notepad and some online tutorials, I had my HTML application completed in a few hours. I got the job and from the summer of '99 to the spring of '00, I had a full-time job as a family therapist and did the About.com job from home in my free time.

As the year wore on, I found myself enjoying my time in front of the computer more and more. I had learned some Javascript and was starting to feel like I might enjoy programming full-time. I came to realize that my work for About.com was not really work, it wasn't draining me...it was energizing me. I struggled for several weeks deciding whether to remain in a field that I enjoyed or switch to a field that excited me. Eventually, I made the switch, and was hired as a content editor by Edventions, Inc.

My first six months at Edventions were spent learning more about HTML and Javascript and setting up a portal with an unpopular content management system. I eventually grew bored with "front-end" stuff and expressed my desire to management that I wanted to become a programmer. When half of the company was laid off in late 2000, they told me that if I wanted to stay, I needed to learn how to program. So I learned Perl...and fast. Irv Shapiro and Steve Bunes took me under their wing, giving me fake projects to cut my teeth on and guiding me toward good practices. A month later I was fixing bugs in our Perl code.

In the spring of 2001, Edventions essentially disappeared. Steve Bunes got me into the American Medical Association as an Internet Specialist. I had quite a culture shock coming from an internet startup to an old, bloated company like the AMA. I got bored quickly and started reading voraciously.

In my reading, I discovered Jerry Weinberg and the influence that family therapist Virginia Satir had on his work. I was thrilled to see a convergence of my two passions. In 2002, I discovered Extreme Programming and Agile Software Development. I paid my own way to XP/Agile Universe 2002 and dove headfirst into the XP/Agile movement. The more that I read authors like Kent Beck, the more I realized that my work as a family therapist is applicable to my work as a software developer.


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