I’ve got a new place to call home despite some of my friends’ and families’ pleas, and I’ve traveled south to Tampa, Florida. Why? Well, make sure your chair is comfortable because this explanation is a long one.

In May of this year, I was let go from my position as Designer/Developer because management decided to outsource my role, and that was my final push to leave Indiana. Sure, I had been considering it for awhile for multiple reasons.

Indiana was losing its luster.

I grew up in southern Indiana where the locals call it  “Kentuckiana.” Right on the Ohio River and straight across from Kentucky. Fear and doubt kept my 18-year-old self from moving out of the state for college, so I spent four years of undergrad in Indianapolis at Butler University and an extra two afterwards for my job.

During my undergrad years, I spent six months living in New Jersey and commuting into New York City daily for a internship, and that’s when my eyes were really opened to the idea of moving out of the Hoosier state. I had hoped to do so right after college, but at the time, a job offer in Indianapolis right out of school couldn’t be passed up.

I felt unqualified to be a developer and wanted to learn more about how to be successful in the industry.

In fact, I didn’t ever intend to be a developer but had planned to spend the basis of my career doing digital design and illustrations. Well, that was shaken up a little bit when my first employer found out I knew the ins and outs of WordPress and had practiced coding with HTML and CSS for several years. After taking on a few clients’ landing pages, I not only learned more but also landed some other projects at the agency. Still, that role mostly focused creating assets for clients such as infographics, e-books, and social media graphics–all things I thoroughly enjoyed and still enjoy creating.

Soon after that, I was given the option to switch over to the sister agency of my then-workplace to handle all design. There were some perks to that in my eyes. Of my new coworkers would be a good friend, who was in the Developer role, I had competed with in UX/UI competitions in the past, and I was thrilled to get the chance to collaborate with him on a daily basis. Another major plus was switching from being at a public relations agency to digital advertising agency. Agency life really invigorated me, but the idea of being in public relations didn’t seem like the right fit for my future. Digital advertising had so much more of a sparkle to it than PR, and even now I still respect the power of the technology it relies on and the industry as a whole. Lastly, I was greedy. I saw this as my chance. At the PR agency, I was under two other creatives and pretty much the lowest of the low. No, they never once treated me that way, and I felt highly respected by my superiors, but who would pass up the chance to handle all creative for an agency and its clients?

That wasn’t my best move. Less than a week after working there, that good friend I mentioned before was let go*, and without a beat, I was handed all of his development projects. There were obviously several issues that came along with that situation. I won’t get into the emotional sides of this, but the largest issue was being told to build an entire e-commerce site for a client who has already signed a contract. Sure, I’m up for a challenge and really enjoy learning new skills, but talk about high pressure. I had zero knowledge of e-commerce sites, the security that’s necessary for them to run safely for customers, and a pretty massive pile of other topics that ended up in my Google search bar and all over Stack Overflow.

Outside of that, plenty of other web development projects were handed over to me, and no matter how many sleepless nights I put in and search results I poured over, I felt inadequate and unprepared for the job.

My ethics and values were being challenged in my day-to-day life, and I’m not about that.

Without going into too much detail, I spent time being expected to present myself as something I was not to clients, and that made me extremely uncomfortable. Not only did that put high pressure on me to perform well beyond what was possible (think having one person to work on a project that a client thinks a team of five is working on), but it really challenged my perception of myself if I continued to go along on that ride.

Choosing a location wasn’t really up in the air for me because my boyfriend Adam had mentioned the idea of us moving to the Tampa-St. Pete area a few months before we made the official decision.

You can probably guess I was looking to get out of the state before I was let go from my job, but I wanted a plan before just walking away. There were definitely more rejections than offers, but of the offers, nothing felt quite right. The one thing that did feel right was the path I ultimately decided to choose with that being attending the Iron Yard in St. Petersburg, Florida. Losing my job just made it that much easier to start on this path.

You’d think those experiences from my last job would have traumatized me and pushed me away from all things programming, but no. I wasn’t a fan of the late nights working on web development projects based on languages like PHP and JavaScript that I had minimal knowledge of, but I’m not one to just roll over and quit. I wanted to know more about those languages and how to turn my designs into interactive, working websites and apps.

I’ll explain more about why the Iron Yard fit my needs perfectly in another post, but this concludes the reasoning behind my, what might have seemed sudden to some, relocation to Tampa, Florida.

*That good friend is super successful now in his new position and a majorly talented designer and developer.