How I Randomly Got my Dream Programming Job

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My name is Michael. This is my first time writing like this, so please bare with me. I currently work for the leading merchandising company in the retail space. We work with companies like Safeway, Walmart, Pepsi, Coke, General Mills and many others to move, install and remove products.

This may run long, but it is more of an inspirational post than anything else. It all started when I was about 25 and I had no job, no real future. My friend knew I was looking for a job, he offered to put my name in at the company he was working working with. After months and months of waiting I received a call and they offered me a job. It was a base position as a product merchandiser. These are the guys in the stores doing the work. As I started working there I took to the job pretty well. Every shift I busted my ass and worked hard, my Team lead took notice and I quickly worked my way up to Assistant Team Lead in about 8 months. I continued to have a rock solid work ethic, I always tried to get my work done faster than normal even when it wasn’t really expected. I did extra work and volunteered for additional responsibilities whenever possible. I loved the pressure and expectations.

After some time my Team Leads bosses took notice of my work ethic, maturity, reliability. I was ALWAYS available and gladly accepted any additional work or responsibilities. They started having me run projects on the side, little did I know they were testing me for a future promotion. I didn’t have to wait long for the promotion, within 10 months after receiving the Assistant Team Lead promotion, they offered me a Trainer spot, which was above my current team lead. Now you’re probably asking, Michael where does the programming come into this?  Well you’re about to see.

When I was a kid I was always into technology and loved figuring out how things worked. I had wanted to get into creating websites, but I thought only college educated people could do that. For the longest time that’s what I thought. Until one day I was at the book store and I thought, hey, maybe I should look at some books and see what it really takes to make a website. I spent about an hour there looking around and googling reviews. Until I found O’reilly Media’s Head First HTML and CSS. That book changed my life. I purchased it and over the next month or two, in my spare time I taught myself basic HTML and CSS. At the time I was working 60 hours a week. So it was rare for me to have time, but I loved it, so every second I had I was reading and learning and continued that as time went on. Slowly developing my skills.

At this point I was working my way up the ladder at my job, and I continued my hardcore work ethic and reliability. In our company Email is huge. And we also have a website where employees throughout the country can enter the payroll and complete surveys on their projects so we can give feedback to the vendors. (Pepsi and many many others.) As I was rising into my new positions, I was always offering improvement and feedback to our IT department, via the “Help Desk” functionality built into our site. They wanted and asked for feedback. About a 14 months after I was promoted to Trainer, I received a call from my boss. He said his current Logistics Supervisor was seriously lacking and he wanted to terminate him, he wanted to know if I would step in and run the warehouse. I had no clue or experience about Logistics but I quickly accepted the position. I worked hard and learned the logistics processes involved. This position was no different than any other, I worked my ass off everyday and never let him down. As I stepped into my new position, the company was installing a scan based inventory system.

In the first few months of installing the new inventory system in all eleven warehouses across the nation, I took charge of It. I spent extra time and learned the entire system, when some supervisors of the other warehouses had no clue how it worked. Our company was looking to maybe create a new position overseeing this system. With that knowledge in hand,  I began creating processes and instructional video tutorials that helped the other guys run their system. The inventory system had HTML based forms that we would print out in mass each day. There were changes that were needed, so once again I volunteered to do work that was not my responsibility nor was it expected of me. With the HTML and CSS I was continuing to learn in the Head First HTML and CSS book, I made the changes to the forms and the IT department loved them. They began to take notice that I wasn’t just some guy that would be reliable and get the job done, I also had interest in coding and tech.

The Systems Analyst who is in charge of our IT department, emailed me asking if I would ever be interested in a job in IT. It was not an offer, but more a feeler email. I quickly explained how I feel about technology and how much I would love it. They asked for a resume or list of my skills and I was very down over the weekend, I thought to myself, I have no training and no experience and when they hear that they’ll laugh at me.  So what I did was I sold myself, not my coding knowledge. I explained how I am a hard worker, how when I put my mind to it I can learn anything. It wasn’t a sob story, I just made them think about my strengths, not my weaknesses. (You can hire the most experienced person in the world, but if they have crap work ethnic, then it doesn’t matter how good they are. The person is just as important as their background or knowledge.)

Around this time I had a much stronger base of HTML and CSS knowledge, I was also listening to podcasts on my hour and a half drive to work every day which helped me understand the industry. About two very nervous weeks went by, and finally they got back to me. They asked me to develop a mock up of a page that would change our homepage main image. It changes with holidays and other things. I spent the whole weekend and about 3 days after I received the email I sent the zip back to them with the page. Once again they made me wait, it took about a week to hear back, but when I did hear back,  they loved it! After that I didn’t hear anything for about a month and a half. Then out of the blue I got an email asking for me to fly out to corporate to meet them and have a meeting. They paid for everything, rental car, hotels, food, flight, it was great. While at corporate I met my possible coworkers and we really took to each other. We went to lunch and bullshitted for a bit and talked about the future of the site and all kinds of stuff. After that we had the meeting, in the meeting they explained that they knew I had limited knowledge of the code, but they loved my ethics, so they offered me a job as Programmer and a side responsibility running and maintaining the national inventory system. I accepted the position and I am now in my dream career.

You may be asking what is the point of this story? Well, the point is to show you what it takes to succeed and get what you want. Drive, determination, dedication, work ethic, hard work, reliability are all things that anyone can use for free and it can make up for A LOT of inexperience. It doesn’t take an expensive education, or knowing someone in the company, to work your ass off. People will notice, trust me. The main thing is that you have to love what you do. In this industry things are changing constantly, and if you don’t love it, you will quickly get lost in the shuffle. You may not push yourself to read that book when you don’t want to. Due to the tools my company uses, I am currently in the process of learning MS SQL, Visual Basic.Net, ASP Web Controls, Java script, XML, C# and I am still learning CSS and HTML5. Not only am I learning the languages, I have to learn how it works. How AJAX update panels work, how databases are setup with relational tables, how programs work in VB.net, how to connect to an SQL server with VB.net and display the data, how to build SQL Temp tables. There is so much to learn and if I didn’t truly love it, I would go insane!

Thank you for reading my little story.

Author

Michael Hanon

Is a programmer at a leading retail company. He enjoys long nights in front of the computer, reading 700page books on programming languages, jogging, photography and eating great food. He hopes to someday contribute to the greater good of our planet and maybe even future planets we inhabit.

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4 Comments

  1. Martin Lehner August 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

    “(You can hire the most experienced person in the world, but if they have crap work ethnic, then it doesn’t matter how good they are. The person is just as important as their background or knowledge.)” Absolutely. This is 100% correct. Good job Michael, and I enjoyed reading your post!

  2. Michael Hanon August 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you sir. I wasn’t sure if it would fit here, but I wanted to show everyone how random it is sometimes. Eli said it a few days ago, its about luck, but you have to put yourself in the position for lucky things to happen to you.

  3. Bobby Gecko August 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Loved it, thank you. Can you maybe do a follow up article in a few months or a season later to explain if its still everything that you hoped for? I would really like to hear what you have to say. thank you

  4. Ahmed September 4, 2014 at 3:04 am

    i really enjoyed reading it 🙂

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