Cover image for From frying chicken in gas stations to becoming a Software Engineer!

From frying chicken in gas stations to becoming a Software Engineer!

dthompsondev profile image Danny Thompson ・4 min read

If you like this article, chances are you'd like what I tweet as well. If you are curious, have a look at my Twitter profile. Or check out my podcast - "Commit Your Code!" where I interview and talk to some phenomenal developers and motivate you to stay on the coding journey!

The reason why I got into tech was because of a rapper.

This rapper was being interviewed for investing several million dollars into a tech company. The interviewer asks the obvious question, "Why did you invest into a tech company?". He replied that he was learning how to code. This blew my mind. I had always thought that programmers were the rocket scientists and PhD holders of the world! I didn't know someone like me could have the opportunity to learn this!

I was 30 and working in gas stations. I found myself at a fork in the road, I can stay in this life forever or it is time for a change. So I began learning to code on freecodecamp! The absolute best decision of my life.

Frying Chicken

My challenge was, I was working 80+ hours a week at that time. To learn, I had to be creative in order to create the hours in my day since they didn't exist. I knew I wanted to learn to be a developer. I knew my path was here. I was willing to do WHATEVER it took to make it happen! I began waking up at 2:30am daily to study and learn before work. I literally did not have the time otherwise to do it. I would code in the mornings and fry chicken and ring up customers in the afternoon. I would find myself at work thinking about these problems I was reading in the morning before work and try to figure them out!

I would even write code in my note taking app and try the code when I got home to see if I was close! I was absolutely hooked!

I started learning to code and in passing I heard about meetups. I Googled my area and found out we had some! I went to my first meetup! I had this very simple web app written in HTML, CSS and a small bit of Javascript. You would enter the URL for an image and it would return it with some coloring. Basically at this point of my life I could cure cancer with code lol.

I walk into this meetup and instantly realize, Oh! I don't know sh--stuff. I don't know anything! People are speaking a foreign language saying things like C#, Java and SQL! I had no idea what this was BUT NOW I AM HOOKED! I told myself I will study, learn and grow! Right now I am a fly on the wall when all of these developers are talking but I guarantee I will be IN THE conversation soon enough!

I kept learning. I would show up to meetups smelling like chicken but I kept going! Then something interesting happened.

I would ask people, just like others, "How do you get that first job in tech?" Every response was the same as if a record was playing "OHHHHH MAN! The first job is the hardest job to find. It is so hard! BUT! Once you find the first job, the others after that are easier." I thought this was the WORST answer I ever heard in my whole life. Not only have you not answered the question, but you demoralized, demotivated and are now making me question the thing that I have spent the last 5 months learning! You also haven't even given me an action item to work on or a roadmap to follow. I couldn't accept this and realized others had to be facing the same issue.

I wanted to change this. I wanted to create a way for aspiring developers to have an easier way of at least heading down the path to reach a first job, instead of that terrible answer.

I started working with that meetup group, a group called Code Connector. I saw a way I could help others. I created a linkedin page and started creating a network focused on getting connections with hiring managers, recruiters and decision makers. It was working. I started talking to these people, networking with developers and the community around me! Things were coming together!

I then left that group and was able to start GDG Memphis! A community that supports developers and brings resources to the community to help everyone grow!

GDG Memphis

I was able to help create such an amazing community that helps lift each other up, but more than that, help people get jobs! Last year I helped almost 50 people land jobs in tech! Growing the entire community!

Positive impact creates MORE positive impact! If you can positively effect a life, you will create a ripple, if we create enough ripples we will create a wave of change.

I landed my dream job at an amazing company. Many of my new coworkers have literally been people that were coming to GDG Memphis meetups and landed their dream jobs in tech!

Now I have been able to experience and talk with some truly phenomenal people. I have given talks to prisoners learning to code, I have been able to go to Google and NOT be escorted out by security! I was allowed to be there! lol I got to speak with some phenomenal and passionate people! You can create positive impact, don't forget that. You are truly valuable!

Keep doing amazing things!

If you like this article, chances are you'd like what I tweet as well. If you are curious, have a look at my Twitter profile. Or check out my podcast - "Commit Your Code!" where I interview and talk to some phenomenal developers and motivate you to stay on the coding journey!

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dthompsondev profile

Danny Thompson


Software Engineer and Chapter Founder/ Organizer of GDG Memphis


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So happy to read this article. It’s never too late


Absolutely amazing experience Danny, is it too late to say welcome? I'm so happy you decided to be part of the community! πŸ™ŒπŸ˜Š


Thank you! Truly means a lot! Glad you enjoyed what I wrote!πŸ™πŸ½β€οΈ


I came here from Twitter. You've been very inspirational, Danny. I'm 33 and just getting into coding. I'm super pumped and motivated and also know it's not going to be a walk in the park. Thanks for sharing your amazing story.


Awesome and inspiring! I'm a 40 year old electronic engineer who is starting to learn front end web development, and this article are the right kind of message to keep going in the right way. Congrats fella and keep working as hard as ever! God bless you pal! Thanks


You got this Jose! Great friend of mine made the transition at 49 and is absolutely doing great!

Excited to see what new levels you reach!


Wow this sound motivating. I start following your tweets through #100DaysOfCode. Your tweets are inspirational... Thank you @dthompsondev


Thank you Kabir! I am glad you are being motivated!

My biggest goal is to motivate as many people as I can!

Keep doing amazing things!πŸ™πŸ½β€οΈ


Danny your journey has been amazing, moreso writing about it.
I get so motivated by your tweets to keep going even though it seems like I might never get a first job forever. Thank you so much for all that you do for the tech community especially for me.

Oh and thanks again for the educative giveaway, and yes I followed you right away


You're by far the most inspirational guy I follow on Twitter. Keep up the good work πŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎ


Wow. Thank you! I'm glad you like what I post!

You are incredible!

Keep doing amazing things!πŸ™πŸ½β€οΈ


Glad you are inspired!

Keep doing amazing things Daniel!πŸ™πŸ½β€οΈ


Nice life experience. Such experiences motivates alot πŸ’ͺ


Great article, what a journey you've had !


Good one #DannyThompson, I love this and it’s inspiring. Can’t wait to land my first job in Tech too. How can I do that?


I don't really know the Nigerian market well. Keep networking, go to meetups, keep making projects so you can demonstrate your coding abilities and get better.


This is really inspiring, thank you for sharing your story! Maybe you could write something about the roadmap you set for yourself, I think It'd be interesting.


I legit was gonna ask you what motivated you into coding.. you're doing a phenomenal job. Keep up the goo work. Cheers!


Yea i get asked that daily. So i figured I would write this article since so many want to know.

Keep doing amazing things!


Amazing experience you inspire me a lot to work hard in coding


Thanks for sharing this. This is so motivating


Beautiful and inspiring story. I feel like you are my soul brother. Right now I'm learning to code while at work as a security guard. I'm also using freeCodeCamp. Very inspiring Danny!


This is great and inspiring... How can I reach you sir. #otienomaurice364@gmail.com