My Journey to Engineering

Paul Buendia
Paul BuendiaThursday, July 8, 2021
A boardwalk path to the ocean.

Finding My Path

I have always found it interesting to learn how people find their careers. One of my favorite things to learn about is how software engineers came to the industry and why. For some, it is a very straight and deliberate path through school, for others it’s more of a round about self evolution via boot camps or classes, and even more interesting can be the stories of those who are almost naturally in the industry over years and years of personal projects. Today I thought that I would take you on my journey that led to finding my path as a software engineer.

Empty office space with many chairs and desks

The Foundation: A foot in the door

I started my career in the technology field as a phone support technician. The hours were long and we worked in an office with rows and rows of cubicles. We seldom sat at the same desk for each shift so we had to remember to clear our belongings after each day. This really made work life feel nomadic, but as a recent college graduate I was happy to have a good and stable income!

To be honest, the job wasn’t designed to keep employees for years and years, but it was great for learning and education. Every few weeks new clients were brought on, and I shifted teams as needed. We were trained in different aspects of computer related technologies. At this job I learned about personal computers (PCs), servers, routers, networks etc.

This broad technical training and knowledge acquisition became very useful in my career, but what I consider to be the best knowledge was learning how to describe and lead another person through a complex task using creative descriptions. I remember one of my proudest moments of my career was walking a small business person through installing a motherboard into a computer over the phone. I can still remember how happy he was when we could start up the computer so he could go back to running his small business. It was a long and tedious conversation, but as they say every experience has its rewards and gems of knowledge.

An iPad, some coffee and paper

The Next Step: Adding people skills

As the months passed at the phone support position and I accrued more knowledge, a recruiter let me know that a local company was hiring. It was a small chain of medical related facilities that needed on-site support technicians. There were only two positions and a lot of applications, but I took the chance, applied, and got the job. This was a huge opportunity for me as there was a chance to get some hands on experience with servers and administering them.

Employment at this company was great for me. My prior training at the phone support job translated directly into building racks of servers, administering and maintaining those servers, and setting up wireless networks in the medical facilities but more importantly I was now working in person with the employees in other departments. It was a fun transition, and I gained an appreciation for how much knowledge could be transferred in an in person environment.

For several years, I learned more and more from on the job training and became a trusted member of the technology department. As the time passed my duties and responsibilities were growing along with the company. They eventually evolved into learning SQL and helping with report writing for the company. Along with this new responsibility came the opportunity to work with the management team who were requesting the reports. It was daunting at first to work directly for the C level executives, but it definitely paid off in the end in the form of the coming opportunity.

A graph of a random stock market

Taking the Opportunity

One day, after several years at the company, I arrived at the office to find a lot of activity and discussion among the managers that I worked for. It had turned out that our only software developer had decided to part ways with the company. This developer had been working on a proprietary invoicing system for use at all the facilities since there was no software available to suit our company’s needs. His leaving left a significant void in a key piece of software for the company. As I recall, we tried several different contractors and other full time developers that either didn’t work out or wanted to rewrite the software from scratch leaving a large question as to when the project would be finished.

Then the opportunity arrived. I was offered the chance to try and fill the last developers shoes. At that point in my life, I hadn’t ever really considered becoming an application developer. It was exciting but at the same time there were so many unknowns to consider. I knew that leaving my position would mean that they would hire someone to fill my current position so there was a fair amount of risk involved. It was a difficult decision, but with the promise of training and an understanding that the management team would work with me, I took the opportunity. I spent the next two months in code bootcamp learning markup languages and how to integrate those with the SQL skills I had obtained over the past couple of years.

I returned from the training with a new excitement for work, and went on to be a major contributor in writing the invoicing application that was used several years after the company was bought out by a larger company (a little piece of information that I still feel some pride in to this day). Needless to say I have been happily in the software development industry ever since.

Being a Software Engineer

Being a software engineer is an amazing path to choose as a career. I highly recommend it to those who are considering it. There is seldom a boring day in the life of a software developer. Every day there is a new problem to solve and something new to learn. The field is evolving and changing every year so there are endless amounts of lessons to learn and puzzles to solve.

With every project you get the opportunity to work on, you learn a little bit more about the world through its different industries. From my work experiences so far, I have had the opportunity to learn more about industries such as health care, sales, banking, grant writing, and the entertainment industry. Now working with Echobind I look forward to having the opportunity to work with many more companies and adding more value to the world through my work.

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