Something I’ve learned about my personality, is that no matter what job I am doing, I tend to give it my all and do my best. Whether it be scrubbing chrome in the Navy, or slicing meat in the grocery store deli, or just making copies for someone else in the office….
Once I get my foot in the door with a company, I’m golden. It’s that first step that I have a hard time with.
So when I finished up college, and my husband was asking me what I was going to do next, I started hitting the street. Looking for jobs in the tech industry that weren’t just techs. Learning who the big companies around here are, so I can apply for positions with them, if they ever come open. Within a year, it was easy to see that [a] these companies were rarely looking to hire developers, and [b] the best way to get hired is to already be doing they job they’d want to hire you for… Both kinda tough when you are new to the industry.
What does that leave for me?  Move to a bigger city hoping to find work in a cubicle somewhere, or  stick it out in Wenatchee, creating a company with my husband, and work for ourselves.
Thankfully, I was able to pick up some small projects from Renee, my mentor of sorts. I interviewed her for an assignment in my last class, to learn about the industry and the opportunities in this area. At the same time, she was secretly interviewing me. While she was not able to offer me a position as an employee (she runs her company with her husband as a partnership), she did see my potential. She was able to pass along some of the ‘entry level’ work that came into her office. That way, she was freed up to focus on the more complex stuff, and I was able to learn more about web development as a profession, while still making some money.
Between the work she sent my way and the grocery store income, money was good. I also learned about networking and making connections in this community. Nearly 2 years later, and we are really getting to know people. Little things like attending a luncheon and sitting next to the mayor as we listen to the Economic Development team talking about ways to make our city better. Or having drinks with the owners of establishments we frequent, without realizing who we have been talking to the whole time. Or showing up at a professional holiday party, and being instantly recognized and complimented on our coordinating garments.
I have gone from a hermit who likes to blend into the background, to reading the business news journal and recognizing half of the people or businesses featured inside. Walking down the street, I smile and nod in response to a knowing smile, to a passerby who I then realize is the publisher of the local newspaper. We attend a networking meeting, and we a greeted with “I saw you out walking the other day” [we are pedestrians – we walk everywhere – but at least this person recognized us, and made it a point to mention it]. Slowly but surely, we are becoming known…. and that’s how it starts.
So you might be wondering, who is this “Sunfire” chick? Where’d she come from? And why should I trust her to build my website? I think I can answer the first two questions fairly easily. I will leave the third one for another post, though.
In case the About section on my main website doesn’t give you enough detail, here’s a better breakout:
- My real name is Connie Hill, but I have been known as Sunfire since high school (10th grade, to be exact). It was a nickname I chose for myself that everyone agreed was particularly appropriate. The name fit so well, some people never even knew my real name.
- After graduating high school, I served 5 years in the US Navy working on computers in rooms with no windows in buildings underground. The travel with free room and board was nice, and I learned a lot of valuable skills.
- I left the Navy in 2006, and by 2008, I had established an online hobby business selling my pyrography (wood burnings) under the name Breath of the Dragon. First on Etsy, then moving to Zibbet in 2010.
- At the same time, I was working nearly full-time at a local grocery store. I have done a lot of different things for that company, including cooking in the deli, stocking grocery freight, changing price tags, even running my own department a couple different times.
- Oh yea, also in 2006, I decided to take my GI Bill from the Navy and head to college. I signed up with DeVry University Online, originally for a Business Administration degree. It didn’t take long for me to drop that in favor of something I actually enjoyed: Web Development.
I finally graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Web Development and Administration in July 2014. Sure, it took a while. The thing about the GI Bill is that it only covers so much of the cost. Every time I owed too much, I had to stop taking classes until the previous ones were paid in full. So I had to take breaks in my learning.
But I did it. And I’m looking to take that degree and make real use of it. If I was willing to move to Seattle or another major tech hub, I would probably already be working for some major firm. But I really like living here in Wenatchee, WA. And so does my husband. We don’t want to move, so we’re doing what we can to find (or create) work both in town and through the Internet. I have a good feeling that once I get the hang of full-fledged eCommerce sites, I will be able to make strong sites for all of my crafting buddies from Zibbet and Etsy.
For now, though, I just keep practicing, learning, and exploring. Always looking for new projects to test my skills and knowledge. But we’ll talk about those later…
Just wanted to make a quick post to welcome you to my new blog.
I’m pretty excited about it, because I learned a lot in the process of creating it…. like how to make a WordPress theme that matches the rest of my site.
Have a poke around, let me know if I missed something, or if anything looks ‘wrong’ – I’d appreciate it!
DeVry University Online
Graduation: June 2014 — Summa Cum Laude
Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
Concentration: Web Development and Administration
Web Interface Design; Web Application Development; Web Security; Principles of E-Commerce; Advanced Web Application Development
Career-related Training / Certifications
Courses from Udemy.com:
— CSS for Absolute Beginners (23 June 2014)
— Become a Certified Web Developer (20 June 2014)
— WordPress Website in a Weekend (8 July 2014)
— Sublime Text Workflow (12 August 2014)
— Chrome Developer Tools (12 August 2014)
— Learning Bootstrap 3 (10 October 2014)
— Joomla 3 – The Basics (24 February 2015)
— Projects in HTML5 (4 April 2015)
— Running a Web Design Business (20 April 2015)
— WordPress Theme Development w/ Bootstrap (8 May 2015)
Please see my profile on Udemy to review any courses I have taken or will take.
Military Training / Certifications
Integrated Digital Network Exchange (IDNX)
Fleet Cryptologic Carry-On Program (CCOP) Maintenance
Operational Risk Management (ORM)
Operational Security (OPSEC)
Classic Wizard (CW) Advanced Command Control Element (ACCE)/ Control Data Processing (CDP)
Fleet Electronic Support (FES) Maintenance Technician
Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS)
Red Cross Wilderness First Aid/CPR; Wenatchee, WA; 22 February 2014
Washington State Food Worker; original: 2008; renewed 2011 and 2013