Photograph by Steven Noreyko

My life on the road

I used to do live sound for The Cellar, and that’s sort of how I stumbled into my first job. I knew the manager of this bluegrass band, Sleepy Man. He said, “I need a live guy,” and I said, “I’m your guy.” It sounded like a good thing to do while I’m not married, don’t have a job, and have the whole world at my feet.

Grand Ole Opry logoI was with them from August until the end of November. We traveled around a lot in Midwestern states. We did a bunch of opening shows for bigger acts, like at the Opry in Nashville.

My time in the music business

[Being on the road] was a good way to experience the music business and see all the different kinds of people we bumped into. A few were publishers, and that seemed like a good combination of my business administration degree and my music experience. So when the group moved out to Vegas and they couldn’t take me with them, I found an internship with K Loft Productions, a boutique music outfit that did theme music for television shows.

Television setThat led to a job with one of the major record labels. That was much more administrative. I was handling legal documents, making sure all the T’s and all the I’s were crossed and dotted during the execution of every record deal.

My change of course

I didn’t like where that job was leading me, so when I left, I dug deep into what kinds of talents I want to use in my career. I did a lot of searching, trying to get honest answers out of people who could tell me what I was good at. What I found was I have three talents: focusing on one thing so hard that time falls away; picking up something new, quickly; and taking complicated subjects and technical details and breaking them down for people.

My realization

My brother is a developer at Google, and he told me I should give programming a try. I wrote him off at first, but then I found that it does take advantage of those first two talents. But I also wanted to make use of my ability to present concepts.

I went to LinkedIn and the UR alumni network and started reaching out cold to alumni, who helped me figure out what direction I should take this in. Eventually, I talked to a bunch of data scientists, and they all said there’s a huge demand for people who understand the importance of data as a tool and can explain to people who aren’t technical how to use it.

MY re-education

I did a boot camp in Austin, Texas, with Galvanize. It was 10 hours a day of studying really intense, in-depth mathematics and statistics and cutting-edge computer learning techniques. I loved it so much that I knew this was the right field for me, but I also loved Austin so much that I knew I wanted to stick around.  

Indeed logoMy new job

After I graduated from Galvanize, I pretty quickly started networking with UR alums. I connected with Caitlin Colbert, ’08, who works at Indeed, which is a search engine designed to help people find jobs. I went through one of the more intense interview processes I’ve ever gone through, and I’m happy to say I started there as a developer.

I get to go off on my own, collect the data set, make something interesting out of it, and explain it to people who can make use of it. Working here reinforces the idea that this is the role for me.