Alex Bourlotos
Alex Bourlotos's Blog

Alex Bourlotos's Blog

Why I Decided to Become a Full Stack Developer

Why I Decided to Become a Full Stack Developer

It doesn't always start with "Hello World!".

Alex Bourlotos's photo
Alex Bourlotos
·Aug 23, 2022·

5 min read

Hi there.

My name is Alex. As of this article I'm 34 years old and am currently a Software Developer at an insurance company. I'm 96% through a Udemy course on full stack web development and am seeking a career change into the web space.

I'll give you a little bit of my history while explaining the points that lead me to ultimately choose this path. When it all boils down though, I just looked at myself with an objective lens and tried to place myself within a role. So where to begin?

Various vintage computers, games and cassettes on a desk.

Childhood Hobbies

Looking back, there were two major things that correlated to my career path. I loved to see the beauty in things (design) and I was fascinated with making things work (infrastructure). I also gravitated more toward activities like video games, tinkering with Windows 95 and surfing the web.

The Beauty of Everything

You name it, I wanted to look at it. As a child, I wanted to see every angle of a funny shape. I liked how colors mixed together and messing around with many art mediums. I would make animations and designs in Mario Paint on my Super Nintendo and also loved to imagine different things I could make with my grandpa's woodworking scraps (more on that later!).

A swatch of random designs laid diagonally

That tendency lives on today. I went to an art school for animation for a little while, and attended some community college classes for graphic design. Knowing that I can make design recommendations and implement visual elements using code drew me into front end development first (Looking at you, MySpace!).

But what makes it tick?

My mother would tell me stories about coming home to find the landline phone taken apart. She wasn't even mad, because I would always have it back together and working. I'm not even sure I figured out what everything did, but I got familiar with how things were connected.

A circuit board close up with various chips and slots

Later on, I would attempt many fixes myself. I decided on a cat-house design from my grandpa's wood scraps and started building. Strategically using the shapes together, I was able to make a solid structure with a flat roof and a door. He ended up using it for its exact purpose and it lasted over a decade.

When my Playstation 2 stopped reading discs, I took it apart and then did some online research to find that the laser was misaligned. All that was needed was a couple adjustments of one tiny white gear. It was working an hour or two later.

What about today?

Long story short, I have a pretty linear work history. It goes a little something like this:

  • Winn-Dixie, Sebastian Florida: Bagger
  • Captain Hiram's, Sebastian Florida: Food Runner/Expo/Pantry Chef
  • Circuit City, Vero Beach Florida: Computer Sales
  • Circuit City, Woodbury Minnesota: Computer Sales to Firedog PC Technician
  • Best Buy, Oakdale Minnesota: Geek Squad Technician
  • Thomson Reuters, Eagan Minnesota: Service Desk / Desktop Technician
  • Western National Insurance, Edina Minnesota: Service Desk
  • Western National Insurance, Edina Minnesota: Systems Technician
  • Western National Insurance, Edina Minnesota: Quality Assurance Analyst - Software (Web)
  • Western National Insurance, Edina Minnesota: Software Developer - Guidewire

If there's a long way to reach a goal, I could probably write a book on it!

Uncertainty

Looking down at a road, there's two arrows on the asphalt showing opposite implied paths.

I can't say I've ever really felt a good sense of fulfillment in my roles. I like to help people and I always strive to become better at the task but it never really felt like ME, if that makes any sense.

So I took my current skillset, mixed it with my childhood (and current) hobbies and found full stack web development.

Finally! Now to Do the Work.

I enrolled in a Udemy course in March of 2022 and have been very persistent in learning every aspect of it. I'm going to do another article on the specific course in another post, but if you'd like to know which one it's Angela Yu's full stack web development bootcamp.

Working in IT, it seemed like the more knowledge I gained, the less I wanted to advance in the role. I'm certain that development is where I want to be because it's the opposite. I'm learning new things every day, and the more I know, the more I want to find other things to build.

I'm so excited to finish this course so I can brush up my resume, get a portfolio built and work on my soft skills and networking. I feel like this will develop into somewhere that I belong, not just something I do to make a paycheck.

A man in a robe yawning against a light background

##TLDR?

O.K. You got me. I'm chatty! But here's the gist:

  1. I took what I naturally gravitated toward as a child and looked into the future to see what marketable traits those turned into.
  2. I dug my heels in the sand, picked a lane and went all-in.

I get to make the UI/UX that people love to use while also maintaining and designing what makes the product tick. I can't think of a more perfect place like "kid me" to end up for a career.

Are you deciding to go into development? Is it front end, back end, full stack or design? Maybe you're just into project management and want to get into the scrum/business side of things. Drop me a comment and let me know all about it. I like meeting new people!

 
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