An Interview with Rain Robinson; Engineer and Influencer
Everyone’s tech journey looks different. For Rain Robinson, his journey started with a Full Stack Engineering bootcamp. Rain used his bootcamp experience to build a platform to educate others through his own interpretations of lessons he learned along the way. Below, Rain answers a few questions about the tech industry and the platform he’s created.
Why tech? What made you choose this field?
Before working in tech, I worked in the music industry. I worked my way up from an intern to a Digital Brand Manager. This involved a lot of tech in the form of crafting digital experiences for artists’ audiences. Many of these digital experiences revolved around website building or gathering data. Through these experiences, I fell in love with building websites and learning about how the technology worked.
I decided to enroll in a bootcamp and take my passion more seriously.
Share some of the roles you have been involved in throughout your tech career.
During my 3-year career in tech, I’ve held positions as a Manual Quality Assurance Engineer, a Software Engineer in Test, and a DevOps Engineer. However, my bootcamp was for Full Stack Engineering.
Talk for a minute about your personal brand – how did this come about?
When you’re learning something, the best way to solidify your knowledge of the topic is to teach it. This got me thinking that if I really wanted to retain everything I was learning, I should start a blog discussing the topics I am learning. By doing this, I’m consolidating my understanding of a topic by forcing myself to think through the topic in a blog article. Blogging allows me to open myself up to networking opportunities like this one with Ascent and demonstrate my knowledge to potential employers.
While building a platform for your love of the tech industry, what have you learned along the way?
A lot of people are deterred by the fear they can’t offer anything unique when starting their own platform. But that’s not true. It may seem like everyone you follow is talking about the same thing. This is because the algorithms have deduced what you like and show you the content they know you’ll engage with. This gives us the appearance that everyone online is talking about AI and ML and ChatGPT. But there are people in your circle that don’t see the same content you do. Having that realization gave me the confidence that I can have a unique take on what I’m learning and the wayI present it will be different from someone talking about something similar.
Additionally, it’s great to have a chronology of what you’ve worked on in your career as well as already written out how-to guides. You have your own handbook of topics you can refer to.
What was your college experience like in your area of study?
I originally went to college for Environmental Science but then switched to a Philosophy major. I then transferred to Berklee to finish my degree, ultimately landing me with a Bachelors in Music Business and Management. After working in the music industry for 10+ years, and Covid coming around, I then went to a bootcamp for Full Stack Engineering.
From the moment I started, I was fascinated.
I knew that I loved learning, which is another reason I chose tech. There is an infinite amount to learn, and I knew I loved puzzles. During my bootcamp, I was taught how I could approach the puzzles and patterns in tech and push myself to learn more. The experience instilled in me a sense of growth mindset: the mindset that states that you just don’t know how to do something yet. This is a powerful tool in defeating imposter syndrome. The experience also left me with a sense of hope. It showed I could do something really challenging (8 hours of coding every day in addition to homework and practice problems) and still really love the process.
Did you have any mentors or role models that helped you to be where you are now?
Yes, there are many people I thank often for giving me the ability to be where I am today. I think mentorship is a crucial part of anyone’s career and personal development. If you have goals you’ve set, there are people out there that have achieved that goal and can guide you to the endzone. Otherwise, there are people who just have more experience and can offer general advice to help you make difficult decisions in your life. Either way, it’s important to have a support network you can turn to for advice.
Any advice you would give to a student considering the tech industry?
This advice was given to me when I was considering the tech industry as a new career path: If you enjoy puzzles, the proposition that you can always learn new things, and challenging yourself to be at least 1% better than you were yesterday, then the tech industry is a wonderful place for you.
The second bit of advice I’d give is you don’t need math. Don’t let that turn you off from a promising career in tech. My wife and I often joke about the fact that I got a B in math for musicians (essentially an accounting class) and I’m now a Software Engineer.
Also, just get your foot in the door. I didn’t know anything about SDET or DevOps when I started coding and now that’s my focus in tech. If you are eager to learn and provide value to the company, you can start out anywhere and still obtain a position you love. When starting out in tech, whether self-taught or coming from a bootcamp, you’re often not exposed to the Software Development Life Cycle. There’s always much more going on in each company than what you learn in school.
Do you have any career goals for the year 2023?
This year I’m challenging myself to learn DevOps more in depth with each quarter having a loose theme. The first quarter of the year is dedicated to Ruby and Chef – a configuration management tool. The rest of the year is split between learning more Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) tools, AWS infrastructure and Infrastructure as Code (IaC), and Dockerization. Many of these tools and technologies I already work with daily or weekly but want to get a better grasp on their full capabilities.