That time I accidentally spent 8 years in grad school

I’ve always been interested in computers, so I don’t know why it took me this long to come around to studying computer science. The first computer I remember using was my family’s Apple IIGS. My mom likes to tell people about the temper tantrums I would throw if anyone distracted me while playing Snake Byte. My dad drew out each level’s map on the floppy disk’s sleeve, so he could see what was coming next when trying to beat his own high scores.

My dad worked in an Apple computer store before there were Apple stores. This was the mid to late 80s in a small Iowa town of about 25,000 people. So I’m not actually sure how they stayed in business. He was in sales; which made perfect sense, because he had previously taught high school biology and would later work at a corn syrup factory. Despite this early connection to the computer biz, I unfortunately did not get into programming.

Fast forward to college. I was good at math and decided to go to the state school that happened to be good for engineering. Family friends at my high school graduation party were like “Oh, so you’re going to be an engineer, eh?” And I was like “Nah, I’m just going to hang out for few years and see what happens.” I ended up majoring in philosophy. And like any good philosophy major, when it came time to graduate and find a job, I went to grad school.

Grad school ended up being my first real introduction to computer science. My dissertation advisor had a joint appointment in philosophy and computer science, and he taught a few courses on AI-related philosophical logic. I think that’s when it really sunk in that I had chosen the wrong major. I decided to bail out before finishing my dissertation, and a grad school friend helped me get a job on the support team at a movie theater software company.

I spent about five years at that company, learning a bit of SQL and managing some mobile app projects, among other things. When my now wife and I moved for her job, I took a remote position with a cryptocurrency exchange, thinking I’d be able to start in customer support management and wiggle my way into something more like the product management direction I had been angling toward. That did not work out so well, so I began looking for the next thing. The podcast ads for OSU’s post-bacc program apparently did the trick, and here I am!

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