Falling into Web Development

December 09, 2019

Apparently, 11 years ago today I was finishing up building a website using Dreamweaver - complete with image maps and using tables for layout. This wasn’t the first website that I ever built, but it was the first one that would be the internet home for an organization. (In this case, my church).

This was also the year that I wasn’t in school after failing out of my first year of college the previous spring. You could say this served as a self-assigned “final project.” By no means was this A+ work - I’m no designer after all. But I learned a lot and discovered the immense value of iterative improvements. I also learned that you don’t need to be a philosopher to logically solve problems.

That year I also took on more responsibilities as content manager and webmaster for the organization I was working part time for. That led to falling in love with all things web and I was hungry to learn more. I learned that I was good at solving problems quickly and was able to provide excellent customer support. I was also extremely lucky to have a genius developer who took me under his wing and has been my mentor ever since.

Ultimately, I ended up enrolling in an IT: Networking program the following year. I knew I loved technology, but the math requirements scared me away from many of the CS and web specific programs. IT: Networking exposed me to other aspects of technology and security that still serve me well today.

My first full-time gig found me in a “swiss army knife roll” - part system admin, part webmaster, part editor, part event planner and part accountant, but the itch for all things internet was still there.

Fast forward to last week and the company at which I serve as the Director of Web Development launched four newly designed websites.

Advice from the things I’ve learned

I don’t know that my advice is worth anything, but if I were to share some of the things I’ve learned over the last 11 years it would be these:

  1. Don’t do something just because it’s what you think is expected of you or because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. I enrolled at an expensive college and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. (Bonus tip: don’t take Koine Greek for a grade.)
  2. Don’t remain idle. Don’t remain stagnant. Push to learn and grow - even in the times when you feel worthless.
  3. It’s okay to fail. Learn something from it.
  4. You’re not as important as you think you are. There are others in your life that are more important than you, serve them. This is also freeing in allowing you to try something even if you might fail.

Some Thanks

Finally there are 3 specific people I’d like to thank for their impact on this journey of mine.

Thanks Pastor Koch for letting me ship my first website into production.

Thanks Stan Lemon for continuing to answer any and all questions not only development and career related but also in life.

And thanks to Josh McNary for bringing me onto the team and helping scratch the itch by dabbling in all things internet.

Written by Jonathan Kohlmeier a technologist living in Cedar Rapids, IA, often found with a pipe between his teeth.

© 2021, Jon Kohlmeier