My Tech Journey

I often get this feeling when I’m coding that it’s like Christmas. It wasn’t clear to me what this was about until I meditated on it for a while. My first exposure to tech was when I got a Commodore 64 for Christmas one year. I was mesmerized. That feeling, that’s the feeling that I have today when I work on web development.

In college, I worked on a command line before we had a GUI called Netscape. My first computer book was on DOS 4.0. I used to enjoy communicating worldwide on USENET email threads on topics from Zen to Statistics. I set up a BBS on my 286 and ran it with a 2400 baud modem. Tore apart and rebuilt machines for myself and friends. Later I built websites in Dreamweaver and FreeBSD based Apache web servers for an internet millionaire. Up until 9-11-2001 I created and maintained an alternative news website. Some life things happened and I didn’t work for a long time. I filled my time with meditation, community volunteer work, and jazz study. My love of Buddhist meditation practices led me to start writing books. The 12-Step Buddhist is a bestseller! I also got deeply into yoga. While it’s not easy to make a living with non-material, contemplative practices, I don’t do these things for the money.

I moved to San Diego, met a pretty girl and got married. It didn’t go well. I wound up broke, living out of my car, making minimum wage as a caregiver for the sick and dying and driving Uber between shifts. In that time, when everything I’d once known was turned upside down, I began to contemplate where to go from there.

I started looking back into tech careers and soon discovered the concept of Bootcamps for Web Development. The articles and podcasts said that people with zero tech experience were getting jobs right out of Bootcamp. Well, I’ve been into tech for quite a long time so I felt like I’d be a good candidate. Problem was, I didn’t have $12-15k laying around. I looked into government-funded programs. The Department of Rehabilitation had a program to fund retraining, but the school had to be a vendor in their system. Most of the Bootcamps I spoke with had no idea what that meant. So I liaised and advocated for this dream to become a reality. Eventually, I became the first person in San Diego.Apparently, I’m the first person in San Diego to get Vocational Rehabilitation to fund a Bootcamp. But it happened.

Now the door is open for other people who need a career change but don’t have the funding to make it happen. Normally it takes 60-90 days to get through the first few steps of getting funded, and another six months to a year to get into a program, which is usually a four-year degree. Who has time for another degree? I’m trying to pay this month’s rent! Through tenacious, ninja-like navigation of the bureaucratic systems, I found myself sitting in Day One of LEARN Academy’s 16-week Fullstack Javascript Bootcamp just a few weeks after I applied to Voc Rehab. Now I’m learning the cutting edge, in-demand skills that employers need right now-not in four years. There are a projected 3M unfilled jobs for Web Developers by 2020, with a projected +27% increase (the average for other fields is 8%) in the number of jobs over the next few years. The average starting salary in San Diego is $66k. There is an age factor, in that people over 40 have a 60% lower chance of getting hired than their Millennial counterparts. But I don’t let that stop me!

And now, every day is like Christmas.

I’ll say more about my Bootcamp experience, and learning things like React, Express, Node.js, Vanilla Javascript and more in future articles. Until then.


My Spiritual Journey

Darren Littlejohn is author of the bestselling book, The 12-Step Buddhist (Atria\Beyond Words 2009).  As a Technical Writer, Darren’s work is precise and clear. A technical support specialist since 1990, Darren has experience in systems administration, back-end and phone support, statistical packages and databases. He writes how-to, proposal, memo, email and web content and more in the client’s preferred style (Chicago, MS, Yahoo). See the Portfolio page for recent examples.

As a 30 year student of Buddhism he’s clocked over 1000 retreat hours with Zen and Tibetan Masters. He’s studied Dharma in Europe, Mexico, Canada and at home in the US. His list of teachers is long, but his main teachers are Joko Beck, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. He’s a certified yoga teacher and has completed three levels (over 400 hours) of training with Core Power Yoga and others. Darren is an energy healer who uses Reiki, Peruvian Shamanic and Tibetan healing techniques. He studied Shamanism for two years with Rosemary Beam, Christina Pratt and others.

Darren has conducted meditation and yoga retreats in Oregon and California for years and has carried his inspirational message to more than 25 cities nationwide. He’s appeared in the New York Times, TVs Extra and several magazines and podcasts. He podcasts on iTunes with over 100,000 downloads and writes regularly for the Huffington Post.