Hey, there! Ben here. Thank you so much for stopping by.
I can't tell you how much it means to me that you actually here, reading my content, wondering about what makes it all happen.
Chances are that if you're on this blog you're interested in coding, and maybe the opportunities that a career in tech can hold.
I owe so much to programming besides just gaining valuable technical skills, and I truly think everyone can benefit from it.
I'm grateful to now be employed as a full-stack software developer at a wonderful company, and I honestly can't imagine another career path now that I've been in software for some time.
But, I didn't always know I wanted to be a developer.
Before Happy Healthy Techie
Five years ago, tech and programming were the farthest thing from my mind.
Chemistry was my first true passion in the world of science and tech. Even as a wide-eyed college freshman, I felt a much stronger connection to it than to my other courses.
I decided to trust my gut and major in organic chemistry.
I still remember the first reaction I ever did (spoilers, it went horribly wrong) and although I didn't quite get the desired product, the process of mixing all the reagents together and seeing the colors change had me hooked.
It felt like Legos for grown-ups, something I could tinker with and (after enough practice) eventually use to make something from nothing.
Despite this initial spark and all the great opportunities I had at research labs and working for pharma companies, I felt my interest slowly begin to fade – I just wasn't excited to go into the lab anymore, and every tedious experiment I had to do only made it worse.
By the time my fourth year of college rolled around, doubt really started to creep in.
Lab work was both mentally and physically exhausting, and I was beginning to wonder if I could even stomach another 5 years of it (the average length of a chemistry PhD).
Pharma labs wouldn't allow me to take pictures inside the lab (confidentiality reasons), so here's an *artistic* depiction of me hard at work
I felt like I was out of options – I'd devoted my entire degree to becoming a good grad school candidate but now I didn't even want that anymore.
I had to make a decision: ignore my feelings and just push through the doubt, or take a step back and try to find something I actually wanted to do.
Why I Felt Drawn To Programming
When I tell people I switched from my organic chemistry degree to finding a tech job within 3 months, most questions are usually along the lines of:
But, aren't programming and chemistry really different?
Well, yes and no.
Programming is a scary and intimidating thing at first glance, but I think this mostly comes from the media and pop culture portraying coding very unrealistically.
99% of the time, programmers don't sit in a completely dark room with 8 monitors flashing green text at them while hacking into the State Department's main frame.
In my experience, programming mostly boils down to abstract problem solving.
Thinking about problems in creative ways and coming up with solutions that you can test and tinker with is really what programming is all about, and (luckily) also turned out to be what I enjoyed most about chemistry.
This was my lightbulb moment – I remember sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Emma, spiraling into a full-blown existential crisis, only to realize that I wasn't out of options.
The answer was right in front of me.
I knew coding was the next logical step and decided that I would give it everything I had – I would devote the rest of my senior year in college to seeing if I could land a tech job, and then decide from there if it was the right path for me.
There was just one tiny problem I still had to figure out:
How do I break into tech?
Taking The Leap: My First Tech Job
Right off the bat I knew I was at a huge disadvantage: I only had a few introductory coding classes to my name, and a grand total of 0 tech internships or tech projects.
Even first year comp sci students had better credentials than I did after 4 years.
These kinds of stats are probably why my résumé was filtered out at almost all of the tech companies I applied to – and I applied to a lot of companies. Like, 300+ companies.
I was a bit (maybe more than a bit) demoralized. I felt like an idiot for throwing away all the training and work from my degree to take this huge risk that would most likely not even pay out.
You already know the ending to this story because here I am, a developer with a job. But, there's so much that I learned along the way that I had to figure out for myself through research, time, and a lot of failures and rejections (too many to count).
My story about being a completely inexperienced newbie programmer beating the odds and finding a tech job is not the only one out there. This kind of thing happens all the time, and sometimes opportunities come when you least expect them.
Halfway through my application process I started cold-emailing hiring managers directly – some were dismissive, but some were receptive! My current job wasn't even posted online, it actually came from a cold email I sent to a small company's CTO on a whim…
If people knew more of how the tech industry works, from job application to the first day as a programmer, maybe there would be less confusion about what it takes to break into tech.
Maybe it would help people decide whether tech was right for them, and if they were ready to take a chance on themselves and start learning to code.
Cue second lightbulb moment.
My Goals With Happy Healthy Techie
Believe it or not, Happy Healthy Techie originally started out as a health and fitness blog, with an emphasis on tech and gadgets – think “Best Apple Watch Apps For Interval Training”, and that sort of thing.
I wanted to have a little corner of the internet where I could talk about that kind of stuff, and maybe help a few people get healthier along the way.
While I'm definitely still a huge health nut and love to annoy friends and family to no end with fun little fitness facts, I quickly realized it wasn't what I really wanted to write about long-term.
My experience with breaking into tech was not only juicier content, but it also felt more personal and relatable. I had a unique story to tell, and plenty of dos and don'ts I learned along the way that I wanted to share.
As of right now, Happy Healthy Techie is completely devoted to tech and programming content, and to helping people who are new to coding find their way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no programming expert, and I definitely can't guarantee the things that I did will 100% get you your dream job.
My goals with Happy Healthy Techie are a bit simpler:
- Show people what it's truly like to be a developer (specifically web development – what I do now)
- Highlight useful resources that I used on my journey to become a developer and what else is out there
- Discuss and explain the most important skills budding developers need to have to break into tech
- Demonstrate how to use web technologies to build an online presence (portfolio website, personal blog, things like that)
If you've made it this far, chances are you're interested in at least some of the things I mentioned above.
You may even feel a bit lost or unsure of where to start in this whole process of learning to code – I'm here to say, “I've been there.”
You're exactly the kind of person that drives me to create content, the kind of content I know I would've benefitted from when I was starting this process, myself.
Ready to jump in?
Where To Start
There's a lot of different topics I write about on here, so I split up the following list by category / interest. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but should be enough to get your feet wet!
Core Concepts (Web Development)
Getting Acquainted With Programming Terms And Tools
Finding A Tech Job / Working In Tech
Also, shameless plug – I have a free PDF that goes through a lot of stuff about how to become a web developer, what the tech industry is like, and how to start learning to code:
Check if out if you have a chance! (Ok, shameless plug over).
Getting In Touch With Me
Have a question about my articles / content? Want to share a funny joke or cute cat pics?
Fire away. My inbox is always open.
For General Questions and Comments: email@example.com