Categories: Stories, Technology

by Will Riddle


I’ve been asked what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember! I believe I really started getting pressed hard for it at the end of middle school. I panicked! I had no clue what I wanted to do. Again, they asked in high school. “You have to pick something.” But I had no clue! I was a kid! The pressure was building.

I graduated high school. I still had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I did what most 18-year-olds do. I made a series of bad choices that would inevitably change my perspective on life. While those stories do make for a lot of fun, they would most likely get me sidetracked from the purpose of this post, which is to share how I wound up as an IT professional.

While I’m not going to get it, know that due to these choices, the following was true:

  1. It was difficult to find employment.
  2. The employment I could find was physically and mentally draining.
  3. These employers paid close to minimum wage.

At the time, a few of my many brothers were in door-to-door sales. They sold steaks door-to-door. They appeared to be really enjoying it, and they were definitely making much more money than I was, so I decided, “Why not give it a shot?”.

I took the job. I was skeptical at first. I remember thinking, “Who in their right mind would buy steaks from a freezer on the back of a pickup truck?”. The answer is that a lot of people do. The job had its good and its bad moments. The days were long, but at least I was making decent money, or at least I thought I was. That was until I did the math and figured out what I was making after calculating for the long drives…

By this point in my journey, I had 2 children. I had to do more than what I was doing. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I had 2 children. I had 2 innocent faces watching my every move. It wasn’t just about money. I wanted them to see what it meant to make good choices. I wanted them to have a lucrative career that would support them and their families someday.

I decided to go back to college. I wish I had a more inspiring reason why I chose to pursue a degree in technology, but sadly, I don’t. I did a minimal amount of research on potential careers. I have always been considered tech-savvy, and I have always enjoyed helping people, so it was between information technology and a degree in nursing. I flipped a coin and landed on information technology.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I believed I was going to school to fix computers. I had no clue about the vast scope of what is Information Technology. Fixing computers was on the smallest part of my degree. There are databases, tons of languages to write code in, automation, and data analytics. Then there is how all these things fit into the needs of a business. I remember the surprise, but oddly enough. I enjoyed it. These “tools” that I had learned allowed me to solve problems in ways I hadn’t thought of.

I ended up graduating from Northeast State Community College and transferred to East Tennessee State University to finish my degree. I had achieved things I wouldn’t have thought possible several years prior. But now, this part of my journey was almost complete. It was time to find work.

This is where things got exciting. With the help of some awesome advisors at Northeast State and ETSU, I created a resume. I submitted it to several places and almost instantly received interest from potential employers. I was shocked, but I was also so revved up. Then, to my surprise, when I attended these interviews, I experienced something I hadn’t experienced before. It felt as if the employers were trying to sell me on working there almost as much as I was trying to sell them on becoming their employee. I couldn’t believe it. When I heard my first pay, while still low speaking relative to this field, I was ecstatic!

I couldn’t believe it. Every one of the problems I had faced early regarding employment had flip-flopped. I had a sense of confidence that I hadn’t felt in years.

For those of you contemplating going back to college, and more specifically, those of you contemplating a career as and IT professional, please reach out. I’ll give you my honest feedback on my experience in this field so that you know what to expect and how to get started!

Will – Owner of Riddle Technology Services

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