My Road to Finding Success

By Ian TeGrootenhuis On May 23, 2017

My Road to Finding Success
As a young developer I recognize that one of my main weakness is my inexperience. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, chapter 2 really stood out to me. In this chapter, Gladwell explains the 10,000 hour rule. 10,000 hours is the number of hours it takes to master a skill. In striving for that goal there is one big hurdle blocking me from obtaining it: my lack of drive to code in my off hours, which would get me closer to 10,000 hours faster than just 40 hours a week. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love coding; building something from nothing or finally resolving that one bug in the code that has been breaking everything is an amazing feeling, but life gets busy. 

With that new insight from Gladwell’s book, I realized my passion could use more practice and that I needed to be intentional about making time for it. So I began to brainstorm side project ideas. At that time I was an intern at BizStream, fresh out of BizStream Academy. BizStream’s Founder, Mark Schmidt, had a client reach out to him asking him for custom software for building bids with aggregate materials. I asked to be involved in that project and he agreed. From there my fellow intern and I started to build AggBid. Being on the project right from the start helped me to feel a sense of ownership for what I was working on. Building AggBid from the ground up was sweet. Seeing it go through the design process, building it, and then seeing it run for the first time … that’s magic. 

As the development of AggBid started to slow down, I asked Mark if he had anything else I could work on outside of work. He showed me a pet project of his called, BoutMaker. It’s used to generate wrestling bouts for tournaments instead of recording them by hand. Because I jumped in mid-way through the project instead of the beginning, it was harder for me to take ownership of the work. I pushed myself and was forced to find solutions to problems that I may not have encountered otherwise. I gained a ton of experience from both of these projects that I’m now able to apply to future projects.

During BizStream's end of year recap presentations there was a slide that showed AggBid and BoutMaker as potential growth opportunities for Bizstream. There were a couple of team members that asked, “what are Aggbid and BoutMaker?” That gave me an idea: I could move both of those apps from being simply logos on a presentation slide to apps that financially contribute to BizStream. Even if it is a small percentage of the pie at the start, it’s a goal I can work towards and gain experiences from.

My advice to young developers, or anyone looking to excel in their field, is this: find that one thing that motivates you, and you can make the world. The confidence and experience I gained from the extra time I put into these projects helped me jump leaps and bounds from where I started. I’ve already been able to apply the knowledge I’ve gained from these projects to BizStream projects, making my work much more efficient. These new insights will continue to help me as I move forward on new projects. I plan to continue making time outside of work in order to keep building on my skillset, I would encourage others to make time for their passions as well, because in the end all of the hard work will pay off.
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Photo of the author, Ian TeGrootenhuis

About the author

Ian was raised in Allendale, Michigan and has lived there his whole life. He loves the location; being a few minutes from the Lake Michigan and downtown Grand Rapids in a small town is perfect. From an early age he fell in love with video games and wanted to develop them. In pursuit of following his dream he found Bizstream Academy, and signed up to gain some coding experience. Ian loved the Academy so much his passion changed to web development. In his spare time Ian still plays video games.

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