For me, it all started when a mommy and a daddy love one another very much….
Oops, wrong story. Where was I? 🙂
I got my start in IT at a very early age, ripping apart broken computers and dot matrix printers and basically any electronics to see if I could salvage them and put them back together. Writing lines and lines of code for hours on end to get a kaleidoscope effect on my monitor which seemed really cool at the time. (Quite pedestrian) From there my love of computers and electronics bloomed as a teenager. It was 1990 something, Prodigy was my ISP and things were getting awesome. I could send emails! And I could send them at a blazing 2400 baud! These were the good ole’ days. I would spend hours upon hours playing, tinkering, breaking any system I could get my hands on.
At this point and time in my life, I did not work as an IT professional. I was 18-year-old concrete cutter working in some pretty nasty environments. One day, while in the office of my employer, the receptionist at the front desk could not get something or another working on the computer. I sat down at her computer, fixed whatever it was that happened to be vexing her (can’t remember ATM) and got her back working again. She told me that I was very helpful and that I was able to articulate what was actually happening in a way that she could understand. She told me that I could easily pursue a career in this as I was not the typical computer guy that would baffle her with his B.S. (Bachelor’s of Science) 🙂
This information came as a great surprise to me. I started to think about what she had said to me. Was it really so far-fetched? I had no official training. In my mind, I didn’t think anyone wanted a young guy to tell them how to make things work or sometimes in my case, not work. So, I decided to enroll in my local community college and started to take some classes specifically geared towards networking. In parallel, I started a job within an IT government contractor working within a warehouse full of networking components. I would often wander off to the staging side of the warehouse neglecting my actual warehouse duties. Fortunately for me, I had a supervisor who saw and believed within my potential and actually created a hybrid role for me so that I was better utilized.
OK, I can hear everyone saying “What the hell does this have to do with wireless”?Patience Grasshopper! We’re getting there.
Fast forward a few years, I’m still at the same government contractor and now I am in charge of said warehouse and staging lab that I couldn’t seem to stay out of. I was working with the likes of CSU/DSUs, Routers, Switches (Synchronous and Asynchronous) and more V.35 cables than you can shake a stick at. I was in my glory! One day, the phone rings. I answer and a gentleman who introduces himself as VP of something or another and proceeds to tell me that he has been unable to get a router into a middle eastern country for almost a year. Three previous shipments had been confiscated by customs and this was quite problematic as it was going to delay the most important part of the project which was launching a vehicle and payload into orbit. Of course, that’s just fancy talk for strapping some satellites to a rocket and lighting a fuse.
OK, I know what most of you are thinking now especially WirelessJim…
But in all actuality, this particular event was the CATALYST for my career. To this day I have no idea how I accomplished getting said piece of equipment into the country that needed getting into but I did it. I’m going to say it was probably pure dumb luck mostly because I didn’t declare a value of the package. Who knew?
My good deeds did not go unnoticed. About 3-4 months later that same VP called me again and asked me if I had time for a discussion. I’m like “Oh boy, here we go again”. But to my surprise, he wasn’t asking for another favor. He was repaying one. He asked me what my thoughts were on becoming a full-time network engineer. I told him that that was exactly the goal I was currently pursuing. He asked me if I would like to accelerate that timeline, in which my reply to him was “absolutely” & “how”. Then what he proceeded to lay out on the phone call can only be described as a dream come true.
That dream was moving out to California and focusing on becoming a true day to day network engineer on a project that was the most prestigious within the company. I got to travel to exotic places around the globe and deploy a network solution to support the “launch”. I had never been out of the country prior to this. I met many different people from many different walks of life and cultures which opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never thought of or considered. In all, I feel like the experience made me a much more rounded out individual.
OK time to let the cat out of the bag. That launch was the photo below. And now, most of you can connect the dots on how I became interested in Wi-Fi. By the way, I can hear most of you muttering it under your breaths, “but channel 14”! Quiet! I don’t want to hear any crap about channel 14! That was well after my time 🙂
I must say that this was one of the proudest moments of my career. I got to be a part of something that not many people get to experience. This photo still hangs in my office above my desk as a reminder. But enough about me…
Dumb luck, blessed, whatever it was, I remember that wide-eyed naive twenty-something year old that used to live in me. That person is out there in the wild today looking for someone to take a chance on them. I guess the moral of the story is that you may be pleasantly surprised by people’s capabilities. (I still amaze myself) Take a chance on someone. Mentor someone. And one day that person might be writing their first blog entry about you!