Zachary Godfrey

My Road to Software Engineering

Posted on May 30, 2024

When I graduated from high school, I had a lot of interests but didn't know which one I wanted to focus on in college. I decided to take a year off from school to figure it out. During that year, I had lunch with a few of my dad's coworkers who were web developers to ask them what it's like to do their job every day. I had an interest in programming, but I wanted to know what the job was really like. I loved what I heard and decided that was the career for me.

They told me about an open position in Quality Assurance at their company and that it'd be a great starting point for learning web development. I knew absolutely nothing about it, but I interviewed anyway. They liked how eager I was to learn, and I got the job. I quickly learned how to do the QA job and immediately started learning to write code. I watched YouTube videos, read online documentation and tutorials, asked my new coworkers a lot of questions, and went through tons of trial and error.

I learned HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP and built the very first iteration of my personal website. I also learned Java so that I could rewrite an automated testing tool that had been neglected for a few years and desperately needed an update.

Ten months after being hired as a QA, I was interviewing for my first web developer position (at the same company). They determined that I knew my stuff well enough to make the switch, and I started building pages and features on our clients' websites. After a few months, I got selected for a new team that was forming at the company. We were going to be building internal tools for our company in C#. On that team, I learned so much more about programming in general and about the Microsoft suite of tools specifically.

I never went to college. My career was off to a great start, and I'd proved to myself that I can learn anything I'll need to know for free online. After several years at that first company, I moved on to other positions elsewhere. I'm still friends with many of the amazing people I met in those early days, and I'll always be thankful for the opportunities and help they gave me.