A Twitter thread by Jeremiah Lowin.
I think it’s time for me to tell my full story. It might lose me some followers but so be it.
16 years ago I started doing .NET development before anyone knew what it was. I got a job with Accenture and was sent to work on the Unemployment System for the state of Colorado. I was completely self-taught. My step-dad gifted me an MSDN subscription in 2001.
I started playing with this huge file, (I think it was on 4 CD-ROMs), called “.NET Framework”.
I started playing around with the first version of Visual Studio building windows forms apps.
I got the Accenture job in 2003 at a WHOPPING salary of $36,000. (Even in 2003 dollars this was not a ton of money). But, I was writing software and I was happy.
I already had a drinking problem when I started but it got worse there. It seemed like every night everyone was going to the bar to drink...usually with a company Credit Card for the tab. I don’t know what the deal is with alcohol and software companies.
One particular night I was drunker than drunk and I got into it with some guys at the bar. It was pretty bad. I was arrested and charged with 2nd degree assault. I spent 8 months in county jail fighting the case and ultimately I was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The length of sentence was primarily due to the fact that I had inflicted “serious bodily injury”.
I am not a bad-ass and I hate confrontation but I AM ex-military and I have had some martial arts training. I can usually control myself but not while drunk.
It was like I was outside my own body and I was watching myself do what I was doing but I couldn’t stop. Anyway, I spent 8 years in prison and was released in 2013.
I was released to a half-way house. It was super hard to get a job but I would go out each day and put in like 20 applications. After 2 months I finally got a job at Carl’s Jr. and I thought that this was going to be it for me.
Even finding an apartment as a felon is tough. Most people don’t want me in their community and I totally get it. One of the things I hope you get out of this thread is that you shouldn’t just assume the worst when you learn someone has been in jail or prison.
I eventually got an apartment after 9 months and I left the half-way house to start my 3 years of mandatory parole...ankle monitor and all. I wasn’t allowed to drive so I biked EVERYWHERE. It was pretty common for me to bike 100 miles in one day.
Part of me wanted to just give up and consign myself to working fastfood and living in a crappy apartment. In prison, I quit smoking cigarettes and I quit drinking (obviously). But even to this day 16 years later I still have not had one drop of alcohol. I digress...
I was starting to get depressed again. I had a suicide attempt in 2001 which partially spurred my move from Seattle to Denver. I was hospitalized at Harborview for 2 weeks and after I left my parents urged me to move out here.
I met my wife about this time and she was the light that pulled me out of the darkness. She always encouraged me to not give up and she stuck by me no matter what decisions I made, (more on that later). I had gotten a job at Home Depot and I worked my ass off.
After three short months I was sent to their training program to become a department supervisor. Ultimately, I was given the Garden department. I couldn’t believe how far I had come in a year. Ok now for the part you probably care about.
I started programming again. I already knew some .NET from way back so I decided to pick that up again. I was working 40-50 hours a week at HD and I was coding in ALL of my spare time. I actually met my wife on a dating site.
In my bio I wrote,
“Dept supervisor at Home Depot and I develop software one the side. I mean in my spare time, not like on the side of the Home Depot”
She thought that was funny so we started talking. Dammit! I digress again!!!
A lot of the coding came back to me...parameterized constructors, inheritance, polymorphism, garbage collection, abstraction, etc. But it was a totally new paradigm for me having been out of the game for 10+ years.
I was not happy at HD and they had put me on the overnight shift which really cut into my coding practice so one night I just walked away. I grabbed my stuff and went home.
I was sure my wife was going to divorce me, (oh yeah we were married a month after we met and we’re still going strong after 5 years...so SUCK IT statistics). But she was like, “follow your heart” and all that junk.
I was applying to a bunch of tech jobs, entry level and up. I finally got a break and got a job at a fintech company. I didn’t mention my background and they found out two weeks into the gig. They said that they liked me and they were going to do whatever they could to keep me.
They took my badge and sent me home. They preceded to call and talk to EVERYONE I had ever been in contact with. I gave my therapist permission to tell them her honest feelings about me. They called me the next day and said I could come back to work.
They said they could not find a single person in my past that had anything bad to say about me. My therapist said that in her professional opinion my offense was a one time alcohol induced incident and she was confident that I wouldn’t do it again.
She had never done that, given a client a recommendation before. She said she was THAT sure. I am on my third tech job in 5 years, still married to a nurse that I love more than anything and I have an adorable 3 year old daughter. Just last week we bought a brand new house.
Ran out of tweets.
Anyway, I’m not saying this to brag. My point is that if I can go from Prison to Fast-Food to Retail and get a job in fintech with a felony record then there is no reason it can’t happen for you too.
Don’t get me wrong. I have worked my ASS off over the past 6 years. I have cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion. I have considered giving up more than once.
I was under a ton of pressure. Money issues, failed businesses, bankruptcy, almost losing my daughter when my wife was in labor, almost losing her again because she wasn’t gaining weight, feelings of being a fraud and inadequacy.
But if I can do this and change my life and change my family history then you can too. I want to tell each and every one of you that I am 100% here for you with whatever you need. I promise to try my best to give some time back to others in the community.
So especially if you have a “checkered” past and need some help especially with finding a job I can probably help.
I was so scared to post this even though I’ve wanted to for so long. Mostly because I didn’t want it to hurt my employment prospects. Part of the reason for doing so now was that I was fully open and honest with my current employer and they accepted me 100% with open arms.
I love working there and I don’t plan on leaving EVER so I think I’ll be ok.
I also want to give about 99% of the credit to my wife. She has stood by me through all of this. She was evicted from her apartment and told she had 3 days to move out because they found out we were married even though I had my own apartment across town.
I had previously applied to get on her lease and they told me ABSOLUTELY NOT. We have had to move around alot, (4 times in 5 years), because of me. But not anymore.
I don’t think I could have done all of this on my own...so those of you that are struggling with life you can borrow my wife. 😂 But I get her back though....... 😬
The real mind-fuck of it all is that had I not gone to prison I would never have met my wife and I wouldn’t have the perfect daughter that I have now. My life would have sucked ass had I not spent almost a decade behind bars. Wrap your head around that. 😉