I recently attended my first Drupal event: MidCamp 2018. It was great. Interesting sessions. Interesting people. Definitely a good learning experience. And also, very welcoming. The people I met seemed genuinely excited that I was "new" to Drupal and attending my first Drupal event. And many asked me what brought me to Drupal and MidCamp. Prior to those conversations, I hadn't really thought through the full who/what/why/how that led me to Drupal and MidCamp. But now that I have, here's, "my Drupal story".
It began about two years ago, when I realized that as a result of "drama" in the family business, it was probably a good idea to start thinking about alternative career options. So I took my background into consideration (degrees in math and computer science, an MBA, and experience with mysql and php) as well as some constraints related to the fact that I'm a mom with two young children. (Work-from-home with flexible scheduling is definitely preferable.) Initially, I considered teaching (which I did years ago), data analytics (which I'd still love to learn more about), and web development. And then I settled on web development.
"Web development" is still pretty broad, so I started learning about more specific web technologies. I looked at Ruby, Python, Joomla, Drupal, as well as a number of ecommerce platforms. And as the drama in the family business intensified, I started to formulate my exit/transition plan. My idea was to redevelop the website and web-based applications that I had created for my family's company using one of these web technologies. I'd learn as I'd go and in the end, (hopefully) I'd have the skills I'd need to find work elsewhere. So as I studied the various options, I did so with a specific application in mind. And Drupal came out on top for me, mostly because of Drupal Commerce. It had the functionality and flexiblity I needed, and I liked the way the code was written. It just made sense.
So I started to learn Drupal, just a little bit here and there, in my spare time. I discovered Drupalize.me, which certainly helped, and started watching screencasts. But I wasn't really making much progress with my project. About a year ago (and a move halfway across the country later), I made learning Drupal more of a priority and focused my efforts on studying D8 module development. But it was slow-going on my own, and I'd often get hung up on one specific thing for a while. I realized I needed a new approach. Enter the Drupal Career Online course and Mike Anello. I enrolled in the Fall 2017 session and started really getting Drupal. It was a transformative experience.
And then, on top of the excellent curriculum and teaching, I was paired up with a mentor (a standard part of the course). But not just any mentor. No, pretty much the perfect mentor for someone who had actually chosen Drupal because of Drupal Commerce. My mentor was one of the project maintainers and one of the Commerce Guys, Matt Glaman.
As anybody who has been helped by Matt at a Sprint or in the commerce Slack channel or has read his book might guess, Matt is an excellent mentor. He encouraged me to get involved in the commerce issue queue as well as the community at large. He helped me get set up for doing local dev and creating patches, taught me about automated testing, and generally steered me in productive directions. And all the while, he was incredibly supportive and encouraging. So it's definitely fair to say that a big part of the "why" behind my attendance at MidCamp this year was due to Mike Anello and Matt Glaman.
But that's not the end of my story. The mentorship with Matt led to an introduction to Ryan Szrama and a phone conversation about how my interests and experience might align with a possible role at Commerce Guys. Its mission, values, and everything Ryan said about his company really resonated with me. And amazingly, it seemed that I was a good fit for them, too. So now I'm a new developer at Commerce Guys, and I've been working with them for just over a month. Two of the Commerce Guys' core values are initiative and impact, and in taking a chance on somebody new and inexperienced, they truly put those values into action.