From PC Building to Web Development

How an after-school PC building program shaped my journey into web development.

Building My First PC

Back in 8th grade, my school offered an after-school program that really sparked my interest in computers and technology. We had two options - build our own PC or learn Microsoft Office. I chose the computer building track, and that decision ended up shaping the course of my entire career.

Old PC I built, but not the first

This is not the first PC I've built, but it's the oldest one I have a photo of.

Building that first computer from scratch was such a rewarding experience. I loved learning about all the different hardware components and how they fit together. Once I got that machine home, I couldn't wait to start tinkering with it. I immediately began experimenting with different Linux distributions, seeing what I could customize and optimize. Upgrading the RAM from 256MB to 512MB felt like a major upgrade back then.

Having my own personal computer to play with was a game-changer. Up until that point, I had only used the family desktop in the living room. But now I had a machine that was truly mine, where I could explore and learn at my own pace. That sense of ownership and freedom to tinker was incredibly motivating.

Exploring Programming

As I progressed through high school, I was getting interested in programming. I wanted to build a music forum for me and my friends, so I taught myself the basics of PHP, HTML, and CSS. I think the forum software I used back then was called phpBB. That project was a great introduction to coding, even if I didn't end up pursuing it seriously at the time.

Working as a computer repair technician and delivering pizzas Building a PC for a client

After graduating from high school, I found myself working as a computer repair technician and delivering pizzas part-time. While the hands-on technical experience was valuable, I still felt like something was missing from my career path. It wasn't until I took a Python course at Macomb Community College that I rediscovered my true passion - programming.

Committed to Code

After my first semester at Macomb Community College (MCC), I had made up my mind - computer science was going to be my major, and I was determined to give it my all. I didn't start my college journey until I was around 22 years old, and I believe this slightly later start actually worked to my advantage. With a bit more maturity under my belt, I felt more focused and driven in my academic pursuits.

My plan was to take as many relevant courses as I could at the community college before transferring to Oakland University. This strategy allowed me to get a strong foundation in the core concepts and fundamentals, all while keeping my costs down by taking the initial classes at the more affordable MCC.

After spending a few years at MCC, I was ready to transfer to Oakland University.

Oakland University

My first semester at Oakland University was an incredibly rewarding experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being a student at this new school.

CSI 2300 - Object-Oriented Computing at Oakland University

Since I had already completed Object-Oriented Programming I at Macomb Community College, I was able to start at OU by taking OOP II. I had one of the best professors for this course, and I learned a tremendous amount about Java.

Working as a Java developer at Oakland University

By the time my second semester rolled around, I had landed my first job as a Java developer working on the student portal. This experience, as part of an active development team, was extremely rewarding. In fact, this was the first job I had ever held where I would find myself looking at the clock, wishing it would slow down. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a team of hardworking and passionate individuals.

This hands-on experience solidified my decision to commit to a career in software development. I found the work to be engaging, intellectually stimulating, and fulfilling. Since that formative experience, I have not looked back.