University (Upending My Life) and Some History

University (Upending My Life) and Some History

November 17, 2013

When it started

For about 6 years I worked full-time for a ticketing company in Sydney as a software developer. It was my first development job and started as a straight up IT job until they were inundated with work and needed someone to have a look at some custom software for a client. I dived in, learned how to write software and the rest is history…

Backing up a bit Before starting this new job I had:

  • Moved to Sydney (from Newcastle) with my partner at the time to support her while she studied
  • Failed to find a job for 6-8 months before I got my foot in the door at a Real Estate providing systems support to offices
  • After 6 months, moved onto my “dream job” working as a Junior Audio Visual (AV) Technician (my formal training up to this point was in the Music Industry)
  • After another 6 months of realising that the AV industry is full of jerks, I get an offer from my brother to said ticketing company he was managing

Computer guy

Needless to say, I was thrilled to move away from AV and jumped at the opportunity to do IT work. My entire life up until this point I had been known as the “computer guy” and had been the main point of contact by friends and family for anything computer related.
Growing up I had avoided going into IT like the plague as some last-ditch effort to ensure I wasn’t copying my brother. Of course in hindsight this is complete nonsense which brings me to now.

Just when I thought I had sorted out what I wanted to do with my life, I had a great idea.

I have nothing but gratitude to this job which got me started as a software developer. I got to try a great number of languages and work on some pretty exciting software. After 6 years however things were starting to feel stale, and I needed to do something drastic to shake up my life.
I couldn’t handle the extracurricular jobs anymore and I just wanted to do software. There were also so many things that I wanted to know. I had spent so long learning from a top-down approach that I was itching to understand what made all this stuff work. I want to learn from the bottom-up. Understanding how things work is important to me.
After many discussions with my girlfriend (who I met in Sydney) I decided to apply to do a Bachelor of Computer Science at several universities. I have to applaud her for being so supportive and wanting me to do it, and given how difficult it was in the beginning, I needed it. Without her none of this would have happened.
In high-school I was completely disinterested in study. I was more interested in playing guitar and computer games (not much has changed really!). I didn’t get a great end of school mark so could not rely at all on it to get into uni. However, I did have a Diploma and near completed Advanced Diploma in Music Industry Technical Production. Who would have thought that something totally unrelated would get me into university? I didn’t.
The months that followed my application were tense. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. Would I get in? What would I do if I didn’t? I didn’t want to stay where I was. In the end I got accepted into the University of Newcastle (and rejected from several others), and so I was moving back to Newcastle (where my family is from), and my girlfriend was coming with me.

How things changed

Moving an entire apartment from one city to another is really expensive, if you didn’t know. Savings were a foreign concept to me, and it didn’t help that Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. My job never paid enough (55K AUD with super) for me to live comfortably no matter how much I kicked and screamed either. This was going to hurt.
I moved into my mum’s house for 2 months while looking for a place and continued working from the Newcastle office before the semester started. The rental market was a joke and it was again a family connection that finally got us a place to ourselves. We were so lucky to get a place only 3 weeks before Christmas.

Waiting for things to work out

Once the uni semester started, we were both without regular work and surviving week to week was a daily struggle. No matter how hard she tried, my girlfriend was not able to get a full-time job. It seemed that someone with skills in Human Resources would have no trouble getting work with such a booming mining industry in the local area, but clearly we and everyone else was wrong.
It is really tiring for both of us to have this endless optimism being shoved upon us without relent. There’s only so many times you can hear “something will come up” or “it will work out in the end” before wanting to stick a fork in your eye. Unless something changes soon it’s going to be a long 3 years.
When it comes to study, I’m really happy with my choice to go get a degree. I can’t thank my lovely girlfriend enough for being so supportive, or my family for being behind me all the way. With all the shit that is being laid upon us I don’t think we could do it if our friends and family weren’t supportive of the end game.

Where will this go?

I’ve already started to put feelers out for internships at some great companies that I would love to work for. The future after my degree looks bright, and right now that seems like the best thing to look forward to. There’s so many great opportunities out there waiting to be had, and great places to have them in.
Any words of encouragement are most welcome. Perhaps you went through something similar and have some advice to give. I’d love to hear from you - feel free to contact me.