Thoughts from the caffeine primed mind of Nathan Smack.

Stranger in a Strange Land

| Tuesday, July 22, 2008
But I am not going to run to the hills! I have started my new job as an applications developer in the Dublin office of the company that decided to give me a shot at something very new to me. After two days, I am getting the feeling that I made the right decision by seeking this position. The managers are laid back, yet focused. The other developers (the ones that I have become acquainted with so far) all have a very good handle on their roles and are willing to stop and explain the intricacies of the projects on which I will be working.

I must admit however, the corporate culture is a little uncomfortable. There are about 100 folks that work in the building and while walking to or from where ever I am walking; nobody seems compelled to lift their eyes to meet mine for a casual “Hey there.” Perhaps it is because I am a new face, and people often come and go in consultant positions. I am hoping that after a few more days, as I continue to smile and engage in eye contact with the people I meet in the aisles between the cubicles, those glances will be met more receptively.

Entry Level

| Monday, July 7, 2008
After finally finishing the task I began in 1995, I have found myself in a position that many people would envy. When I began studying to complete a Civil Engineering degree at Ohio University [], I never thought that it would take 13 years to attain a bachelor degree. Civil engineering was my second choice as a career goal due to the steering of my high school drafting teacher. He convinced me that architecture was so highly competitive a career field that it would be a waste of time to pursue. Four years went by, accumulating bad decisions, bad habits, and lack of sufficient motivation and left me in a position that none would envy, four years of school debt, and no degree.

Two years later, after working various civil engineering oriented jobs; CAD operator, rod man on a survey crew, Engineering Aide in a municipal engineering department, I was married to the love of my life and we began our life together as a family. What is one of the important things every family need to get started on the right foot? Steady income. That is where surveying came in for me. While I was earning a lesser wage than my recently graduated wife, I was enjoying my work, and we were living comfortably as newly weds.

Fast forward to March 3, 2005. Several attempts at restarting an engineering degree have been met with lack of acceptable performance and more time and money wasted on what is becoming more of a pipe dream than an end goal. I begin to realize that with the new addition to our family, daughter numero uno, I need to get my act together so that I can be at least an equal bread winner, and not an on-again-off-again struggling student. The following fall, I enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan University [].

As a side note, while I was editing this blog I found that IWU was ranked 31st by U.S. News and World Report in the Midwes category for Universities that grant Masters Degrees. [USN&WR Article]

Today I am a father of two beautiful little girls, the husband of an amazingly intelligent, knockout of a woman, and homeowner. I have completed my course work at IWU and will graduate August 9th with a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems. Some may ask, is that related to civil engineering? Nope, I am in the midst of a career change. Computer applications programming is where I will dedicate my professional efforts, and have already found a lucrative opportunity with an international marketing company developing custom apps in .NET and J2EE. This synopsis of my post-high school life is meant to be an exercise in reflection. I, by my very nature, am not one to dwell on the past, and quite often simply ignore it all together for the purpose of living in the present. However, to fully appreciate what I have been able to accomplish with the massive support from my family and friends, this glance back makes the present, and future that much sweeter. I would not suggest that my current situation is enviable by anyone, but I have been on the fringes of success for so long, that I know what it is like to want a little taste for myself. Now I have that chance.