Why I Started in Tech?

Chris Giddens, founder of ATX Tech
When I was in middle school, I took a typing class and realized I could type pretty fast through all the assignments given. I took that boast of confidence home and practiced how fast I could install and reinstall software on my parents’ computer. It wasn’t long after I realized the importance of taking backups of important stuff. I accidentally erased several years worth of accounting records for my parents’ business because I clicked the wrong button. Surely Peach Tree Accounting could have planned better for teenagers like me.

Can you say… Turbo Pascal?

And then in high school, I started learning how to program in Turbo Pascal. Most people have never heard of Turbo Pascal, which I’m completely okay with. To give you a little idea though… We’d take pictures and draw small grids over them so we could code each color in each square of the grid. While the work was tedious, that class led me to find other avenues to code, including the high school’s website. It had navigation and design elements that just didn’t make sense to me. I quickly learned that I had a passion for identifying problems, but I didn’t just want to identify them – I wanted to fix them. That’s really where my passion for tech started.

Stay Focused

When I went to Texas A&M, I had all of these aspirations of getting a degree in computer engineering and being famous for the “next big thing” I’d create or the “next big idea” like Google. Except I failed to give much focus to the other classes I enrolled in so I kept changing my major to ones less challenging. But along the way, I learned how to debug and code at a part time job on campus. The gold in this experience is that it no longer requires a 4-year degree to get ahead in this world. Twenty hours a week at a part-time or 9-10 months in a tech boot camp can teach you everything you need to get your foot in the door.

When I interviewed for my first job outside of college, it wasn’t my degree and it certainly wasn’t my GPA that landed me the job. It was my tenacity to figure out problems and the programming experience I had cultivated during college that convinced my recruiters to take a chance on me.

If I had to boil it down to a few key lessons for my younger self, here’s what I’d say:

  • Stay focused. When you have a dream or passion, stay focused on it in the right seasons.

  • The unconventional could be your conventional. For some, a four-year degree is exactly what you need. For others, a two-year degree or even a tech bootcamp could be exactly what you need.

  • Never stop learning. Challenge yourself to always be growing in some area.

  • Experience is overvalued. Even your “pet projects” that turn themselves into a portfolio for potential employers could be included as experience.

  • Stay grounded, keep praying. Everything begins and ends with your faith. If your foundation is rocked, your journey will be rocky.

When it was all said and done, my passion for tech took brought me to a place I never thought would be possible, especially after 10 years in the corporate world. Today, I have the incredible honor of serving the community of our church, Bethel Austin, since 2018. I get to roll up my sleeves and code while building a tech strategy for where we want to go next. And I absolutely love every waking moment of it.

It’s never too late to chase a passion of yours. For me, it’s always been in tech and finance for the Kingdom. What’s your passion?

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Chris Giddens is the founder of ATX Tech as well as the IT & Finance Director for Bethel Austin. He's been a software developer and in the tech space for over 20 years and has a passion to use technology expand the message of Jesus all over the world. He's married to the love of his life, Stephanie, and has two beautiful daughters. They live in Austin, TX.

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