If you asked me what I do, my answer is almost always;
I am the puzzle maker. I take all the pieces and put them together... then I say I am a programmer when that look of confusion befalls upon their face.

Everyone in the tech industry has to start somewhere. I started back in the early 1990's professionally. I survived the great browser wars only to find out the next big battle was around the corner, the mobile device conflict. That one is still raging on. And of course there is one of the most opinionated and heated of battles making all of them pale in comparison, the battle of the JavaScript Frameworks / Libraries / Platforms.

I often find myself reminiscing about the old days when all you needed to get a job was to know HTML and Perl. Those days are long, long gone. A solid dev needs a variety of tools under her belt to even compete. I get asked "What should I learn first?" That is kind of a loaded question with many right answers. Basically just do what I did, hop on your favorite text editor and start hacking at a web page. Pretty soon you will either figure it out and build a simple page. Decide what your goal is and consult the Google. Google is a great reference tool. Some people learn by reading, some by classroom instruction or like me you just jump in and start swimming on your own, learning by example, trial and error.

And I am still learning. It never ends. Much to our simultaneous joy and horror things change rapidly and often. This is most true in the world of JavaScript, CSS and HTML. I could write book about that probably. Specialization in a few things can be a good career choice. Being a generalist is also quite valuable. That is where I put myself, learning and working with many tools over the years. These days people refer to that as a full-stack developer/engineer.

At this point in my long and interesting career, I call myself a full-stack developer and architect. I have worked on absolutely every single piece of the bigger puzzle from simple static web pages to full blown multi-million dollar e-commerce systems. After all theses years and all the tools I have used, I did in fact figure out what I enjoy most. Node! Or for the uninformed, javascript.

So that is where I am now. A full-stack Node developer who focuses on the front-end, but still works within the entire scope of the project. It is immensely challenging at times. Putting all the pieces of the puzzle together can be simple or it can be a royal pain in the ass. But it is more often than not a rewarding experience.