Go Made Me Return to College

September 2017 ยท 4 minute read

A long time ago I gave a TEDx talk about how I ended up where I am and the choices I made. Most notably, the choices I made to transfer to many different colleges and eventually drop out. As I got more comfortable in my developer career at Harvard and then MadGlory I convinced myself that I never needed a formal education in Computer Science to do well. Convincing myself of that helped minimize the annoying itch I had that reminded me I never graduated, specifically from the school I worked my ass off to get into when I was a senior in high school, Rensselaer.

I started with using Go back in the Summer of 2016 for a small project. A co-worker of mine, Patrick, suggested we try it out since he was showing interest in it as well. So we took the chance on it and used Go to write it. We finished if fairly quickly while learning the language and got it into production. It performed better than we imagined it would and I was immediately hooked after that. I started spending more and more time learning the language and also, more importantly, the reasons why it was created and why it works at a conceptual level. It felt deliberate. Well thought out. Intentional. I liked those feelings, especially in world of being forced to ship software too fast.

And now GopherCon 2017…

Talk about being a small stupid guppy fish in a big ocean full of really smart dolphins! I have never been hit so hard with imposter syndrome in my life and to make it even worse I agreed to give a lightning talk at the end of the conference. The first two days had a lot of tough acts to follow. However, after that weekend that annoying itch returned about never graduating.

I spent over a year with Go and being a part of the community. Not only did I fall hard for the language, but I fell even harder for the message it conveys. The community’s outlook on writing software has pushed me to educate myself more and how to build better software. This sparked the idea of returning to school to finish my degree since a lot of the concepts I was hearing from Go programmers was stuff I was never taught or I just happened to stumble upon accidentally. I felt like I needed more formal education around these concepts. So, I started to check out Rensselaer to see if that was a viable option to return to and complete my degree since I only live 30 minutes away. Unfortunately, given my lifestyle of doing dad and full time work things I couldn’t make that work. However, I did end up finding Empire State College basically in my back yard that prides itself in educating students in a non-traditional way. For me this meant I could complete my degree entirely online from and accredited SUNY school. Sold!

After being accepted I was pleasantly surprised to find out I am a mere 4-5 courses shy of a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and after speaking with my advisor it sounds like I may end up on a graduate degree path afterwards. Perhaps graduating from Rensselaer will actually happen if I am crazy enough to actually pursue it. The thought of that does sound very exciting though.

Now that I have begun classes I am experiencing the value of the knowledge that comes from a formal education. The upcoming courses on Operating Systems, Software Engineering, and Systems Analysis and Design are really piquing my interests. These areas will certainly put me where I want to be in my career as a software engineer. This is going to be fun!

Thank you, Patrick, for recommending Go and thank you, Gophers, for making me yearn for more and to go back to school.

Now I leave you with Rob Pike’s 2015 dotGo: Simplicity is Complicated talk to give you a taste of what contributed to my decision to return back to school.