The road is long, and possibly winding, but has nothing to do with the Beatles

What catapulted you onto the professional path you’re on now?”

That’s the question posed by a coworker. After some consideration, I can say with confidence that (a) no catapults were involved, and (b) being a huge nerd got me where I am.

I’m the product of a moderately well-off middle-class household, and born at the tail end of Gen X. That means from the time I was about 10, we had computers in the house, and reasonably ready access to them in high school. My entire university career was spent working for newspapers on and off campus, which gave me my first contact with the Macintosh (thus beginning a nerd love affair that continues to this day, as I write this from my MacBook Pro).

When I finished with a double-concentration in mass comm and PR, I realized I could dress casually for work and be poor, or wear a suit and tie and probably make good money. So I punted, relying on my skill with the Mac and PageMaker (thanks, Technician!), to land a job with a local book publisher. Thence followed a series of graphic arts jobs, including a stint working for the son of one of the nation’s largest pyramid scammers, and a year-long flirtation with self-employment which, being enamored of a regular paycheck, I shall not repeat, culminating in a sysadmin position at a local university. You’d be amazed how many 90’s-era Mac admins started as graphics people.

Anyway, that lasted a couple of years until a friend told me about an open position at Davidson. When I interviewed here, I got what I still regard as an inane interview question (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”), and gave what I still regard as my best answer to an interview question (“Right here.”) Side note: Kids, when you interview, research your target…Davidson values long-term employees.

Thirteen years later, I was still working as “the Mac guy” (more accurately “the older Mac guy”…hi John!), but had also developed a reputation as the guy who was constantly in the CIO’s office going “Look at this cool new stuff! Isn’t it cool? We should get it! Can we get it?” I assume it was that reputation that made me the go-to guy when the College decided to open a new makerspace/tech showcase, and Bob’s your uncle.

So was it passion that brought me here? Nah. Just a deep and abiding interest in making and technology, a desire to teach kids how to work with their heads and their hands, and the conviction that a person ought to be able to turn their hand to any job with reasonable confidence in their ability to either do it, or learn how. That, and the idea that what I do has meaning…that it makes a difference to the kids who pass through my shop.

So there we are then. I can reasonably see my career path (what do you know about that…I’ve had a career!) clear back from 47-year-old me to 10-year-old me. I think I’m a little surprised, but it’s sort of gratifying to realize that my belief in things generally working themselves out seems to have been borne out over that time.

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