A couple of points to consider before you crack on:
- I am aware that no one asked me
- I’m not a writer
- This is a bit of a bio, so if you’re not interested in what is effectively, ‘my life story’ - TLDR; I’ve always loved tech, I love solving problems, I love having things to work out and take apart and fix, it made sense for me. BANG. Saved you 7 minutes.
With those things out of the way, I’d like to tell you why I chose a career in tech - more specifically, software / web development - firstly because I thought it was a good place to start my blog, and secondly, because I thought it may help someone (maybe you!) in making their own decision about whether a career in tech is right for them.
My name is Maximilian and I’m 28 years young from London, England and I have had 4 passions in my life: Music, Tech, Football and Skating.
I’ll get the non-related passions out the way first.
Skating - Roller disco when I was very small every weekend (big up the 90s). Aggressive Inline Skating in skate parks when I was a teenager, and now Ice Skating with my brother and sister when we can!
Football - I played in leagues and trained during the week with local teams throughout my childhood and beyond. I stopped when it got too competitive and aggressive and risked injury, in turn risking what I saw as my career, enter…
Music - I was obsessed with drums from a young age. My Dad is an unbelievable musician and his Mum (my Nana) bought me a Toys ‘R’ Us drum set when I was 3. On hearing that I could keep time, my parents bought me a real drum kit when I was 7 and supported my pursuit in a music career ever since. I left school at 11 to do my GCSEs from home and devote more time to playing. I went to The BRIT School when I was 16, and played professionally around the world in front of audiences as small as 10 and as large as 10,000, on live TV and as part of advertising campaigns for music companies ever since.
The backbone to everything in my life. It started when my Dad upgraded his music studio from using a tape machine with an Atari ST running C-Lab for his MIDI sequencing, to a custom water-cooled PC running Windows XP x64 and Cakewalk Sonar 5. It was riddled with problems (and never actually worked properly) so it was our ‘Father & Son’ project to find out how we could get it to work.
This was the start of my tech career. I got obsessed with finding out about everything inside this box. What all the hardware did, how software worked, what all these acronyms like RAM and CPU meant and what did they all do?!
I ended up inheriting my Mum’s old Dell computer that she was overdue an upgrade on and I must have taken that thing apart and re-built it a dozen times. I learned about Linux and how to install and use it, how to configure hard drives in RAID configurations, how to tweak the BIOS, how to overclock a CPU and so on. I was then the ‘go-to’ guy in the family to fix computers.
On my 13th birthday, I came downstairs to my Dad reading a book on the sofa. He wished me a happy birthday and promptly said (and I quote), ‘if you were Jewish, you’d be considered a man. Get a job’.
I’m not sure this is entirely true, but it felt like a wake up call.
I asked my Mum if she knew anywhere that was hiring locally (being that she worked for the local town centre) and she managed to get me an interview at a place who were, at the time, one of the top mobile phone repair centres in the country despite it being, effectively, a corner shop!
I had an interview with the owner, ranted like I’ve always known how to about technology, and he gave me a Saturday job, paying £5 per hour - which parlayed into £45 a week, making me an overnight millionaire in my eyes.
Although the job was mainly interfacing with customers, I got to take phones apart, play with every single phone I’d ever heard and read about, including all the brand new ones, and talk to nerds like me all day. It was great.
I saved most of my wages and eventually bought my very own computer with an Intel Quad Core Q6600, 4GB RAM and 2x 250gb hard drives configured in RAID0. This is when I started to really learn about audio editing, video editing, animations and taught myself ActionScript 3.0. I also dual booted Ubuntu for the fun of it.
After a year or so, I was at a family summer BBQ & Rounders day (the only one I’ve ever been to) and got talking to this guy with a beard who was on my team. He was the IT manager at an Architect’s firm. We spoke for ages about computers and the infrastructure at his company and he ended up asking for my CV as he was looking for an assistant. Long story short, I left the phone repair shop and moved to this architect’s firm for more money and more hours. The job was part time, 3 mornings a week but now there were no customers, just me, my boss, a load of computers and a server room. It also turned out that their website was built with flash and guess who just taught themselves ActionScript? This guyyyyyy!
My job mainly consisted of building and optimising computers that were going to be deployed around the company - whether they were to be deployed as part of a render farm for the graphics team, a workstation for an architect or an accountant’s desktop.
On top of this, I was the guy that answered the phone to all employees experiencing problems with their computers. In essence, I was the one that said “have you tried turning it off and on again?”. However, when that didn’t work, I had to go and fix them.
I still love remembering the employees’ faces when I turned up at their desk and had to explain that I wasn’t anyone’s kid, I worked there and I was there to fix their computer. Yes, this is a shirt, no, it doesn’t have chest and collar measurements, it’s just a kid’s size large from Debenhams (R.I.P.).
I saw tech as a loved hobby of mine, but all I wanted to do at the time was play drums around the world. This blog is not meant to focus on this part of my life, so I’ll summarise it as best as I can:
It took a number of years to be able to make a living from it, but I did it - and the money might be better than you’d think
I got to play around the world in front of massive audiences, some tiny audiences, meet people I never thought I’d meet and play with people I never thought I’d play with, perform on live and pre-recorded TV, and advertise products for companies whose equipment I grew up playing on
Travelling all the time and carrying equipment is exhausting and takes its toll
There are only so many times you can play the same song without going mildly insane
Most audiences are great, but some are not and make you question what you’re doing with your life
Driving home exhausted at 3am regularly is not without its risks
A social life and relationships are difficult to maintain - you generally work when people are not
I still loved technology and a lot of my music work centred around tech: recording and producing bands, working in studios, choosing and configuring equipment for bands to use on stage, putting together electronic triggers for sounds and backing tracks (sometimes sync’d to video), and even designing and building websites (in Wordpress… they looked ok but weren’t great… and they did not make it to my portfolio!)
Towards the end of 2018 I started feeling extremely fatigued and I was royally burned out. I knew I wanted to leave the music industry, but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do.
I kept reading about how if you love learning, puzzle solving, designing and making things etc. then web and software development could be for you, but this didn’t sound like the frustrating Wordpress experiences I had, so I looked into it further.
Long story long… by the end of 2019 I had made a plan to transition over the following 2 years to become a full stack developer.
March 2020: UK went into lockdown and in 6 days, my year changed from being my highest earning, busiest year in music to date, to empty. Literally… empty.
It was terrifying.
But then it became liberating.
I had time off and I could do web development full time… And so I did. And I absolutely fell in love with it.
Fast forward to February 2021. I finished the portfolio that I hadn’t anticipated being able to finish for at least another year and I’m about to start applying for my first full time web development job (wish me luck!).
I’ve been lucky to have been able to pursue multiple passions in my life. Although nothing is perfect, I couldn’t imagine not doing something I love everyday and that’s what scared me the most when deciding to leave the music industry. I didn’t think I’d find anything else that I couldn’t stop thinking about and couldn’t wait to get out of bed for (and didn’t want to go to bed without finishing!) But for me, web development is exactly that.
If it’s not that for you and you’re in your first week just learning what HTTP means, keep at it until you get to the bigger stuff - the frameworks, the libraries, the APIs (without skipping the fundamentals!) and if it’s still not for you, that’s ok!
But for me… it’s like the coolest thing everrrrrr and I don’t want to do anything else.
And you can’t make me.
You won’t make me.
And you can’t make me.