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kevin sims
kevin sims

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From Jail Bird To Developer In A Year

This post is for all of you who don't believe you're good enough to become a developer. Just Know, YOU ARE!

How It Started

Growing up, I never lived in one area for more than 2 years before moving; my mother's failed attempts at relationships were the main cause most of the time. My father was never in the picture long. He was in and out of prison often, until eventually, he received pretty heavy sentencing and has been locked up since I was six.

Back then, I couldn't necessarily see how these things were affecting me, but around the time middle school started, I had developed a lot of pain, anger, and resentment towards the world. Through middle and high school, my grades sucked, I got into fights, got expelled, was disrespectful to just about anyone I felt looked at me wrong and arrested more than five times.

And things got rougher. I was selling and doing drugs whenever I wanted. Taking people for granted and even using people for my own benefit. I was a mess, to say the least.

Until I was 18 and went to visit my father in prison, I often used to do this, but the darker my world became, the more ashamed I was. When we finally sat down after years, he said things that really changed me, and I slowly but surely stopped doing drugs.

But the biggest hurdle I had to cross was the mindset that I had to become rich overnight. The idea that there was some secret formula that could generate real wealth overnight. This is something I struggled a lot with. I traded forex, bitcoin, bought the courses, tried it all, and to be completely honest, the only thing that stopped me from continuing to waste my money on bs was fitness.

All my life, I never really cared about my body, how I ate, if I was stretching consistently, or working out regularly. But when I turned 19, a buddy of mine asked me to be his workout partner. I took him up on the offer, and again this was a life-changing experience. After the first month, I was in the best shape of my life, and after three months, I had an 8 pack. This taught me that a little patience goes a long way, that anything that comes fast usually doesn't last, but most importantly. It taught me that hard work means everything. Hard work is the bridge that connects you to where you want to go. We were in the gym 3 hours a day, going all out. I had never worked harder in my life, and it paid off.

At a certain point, I sat down with myself and evaluated my life, all the people I had hurt and done wrong: anger, sadness, and resentment. I never wanted to be that person, growing up. I wanted to help others, lift one another, and make the world a better place. But as a kid, when bad things happen, you become hardened, view the world differently, and change your morals and outlook. And as a result, I had become the opposite of who I really was. But I want yall to know; people can change.

some people will tell you how they did it but will you listen?

I started listening to people like David Goggins, a Black Navy Seal who had grown up with struggles like mine. But instead of allowing his situation to make him a victim, he used all the crap he'd gone through as strengths! Seeing and listening to content like this is what helped me break the victims' mentality.

Then one day, while trying to figure out what to do with myself, I heard a line that would change my life.

If you don't know what you want to do, look for someone who lives the life you want to live and try that.

Genius right?

But really this changed it for me, a lot of us have no idea what we want to do, and that's fine! The most important thing is that you live a life you love. Some would say you must love your work from day 1. Well, I don't see it this way, and my counter is that if you love the life you live outside of work, it'll make it that much easier to love the actual work, And if you hate the work, there are plenty of careers in the sea, try something else.

After this, I started researching(stalking people's lives) to see what I may want to do. After looking at close friends' parents, relatives, and even people like Musk, Gates, Bezos. I decided I'd give programming a shot.

But where would I start? How was little ole black Kev, gonna break into tech? I found a resource that I will forever be grateful for and probably use for the rest of my career and life.

A Mentor, even more importantly, one I could relate to. This is how I would know that I was going in the right direction and on my way to becoming an engineer.

The first step was to move across the country as fast as possible. No, I didn't have to, but I knew myself enough to know I'd need a support team to get through this.

Never be afraid of help; the self-made man is a fallacy.

So there I went to California, leaving the last 7 years of my life behind in pursuit of something better.

After getting settled, we (mentor and myself) created a roadmap. I'd attend a boot camp, work on personal projects, network, all until I finished the boot camp.

Then get rejected from jobs and improve in the areas they saw were weak. Go back reapply, through friends in my network, and hopefully get a job. This took a lot longer than I had first imagined; there were many ups and downs.

*Days I did not want to code.

*Days I wondered, "Is this for me?".

*Days I told myself, "YOU IDIOT THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!".

But I got through it, I graduated my Bootcamp, and 5 months later, an offer had opened at my mentors' company for an internship. I proved myself over 4 months, and when a full-time position came around, I was given a shot.

What's Next For Me?

Since then, I've continued coding in my free time, this is an art of its own form, and I've learned to appreciate and love it. I could not go a week without coding. I've also started an Instagram, Youtube and created blog posts to encourage people from similar backgrounds to give programming a shot. I think we all need to step out of the stereotypes the world has tried to put us in, and I believe I can help others with that process.

We are all unique, and that's a good thing.

Just because I grew up listening to Lil Wayne does not mean I cant learn what a database, server, or app is. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, rich, or poor. You can do whatever it is that you want to do. Work hard and do not give up.

Much Love to All.

If you would like to reach out and talk about anything, please feel free via Twitter

Top comments (1)

evans_osei profile image
Evans Osei

This is really inspiring Kevin. Didn't grow up like you but I had my own challenges. You shed the light. love you bro!