The Personal website of Paul J Abernathy

Solve hard problems.  Make the world a better place through quality software.

Career Summary and Future Goals

June 2014
Summary:

Dot com recession

I went to Duke University, originally planning to study electrical engineering, but later switched to computer science.  I graduated at a horrible time in the job market (2001) and did not get the software developer job I was looking for at the time.  After a couple of years doing blue collar jobs to pay the bills, I went to grad school and got a masters degree.  

Bank of America intranet

After grad school I started working at Bank of America with the technology team for the company's intranet.  I was mostly doing support at first but did a little bit of programming as need arose for small apps for the support team, and gradually did more and more development as time went on.  At one point I was assigned a project with the WebTrends product the team used for web analytics, and I must have done well enough that I was assigned more WebTrends duties and became the team's go-to person for web analytics.  I continued to do support also, did some development, maintained back end some applications for the support team, and sought out a few project management opportunities within the team.

Business idea?

When I had first taken the Bank of America job, I was fresh out of grad school with some ideas for cool programs, and my plan was to work at Bank of America for a few years, write a program on the side, and then start a business and become the next Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, or Mark Zuckerberg.  Social networking graph algorithms meet the Semantic Web, or something like that.  After a few years I realized that I didn't have time for it at this stage of my life and it was unlikely to succeed anyway, so I had to abandon the business idea and redo some career plans.

Nevermind and back to the drawing board

Deciding that for the foreseeable future I would focus on being the best programmer I could be instead of being an entrepreneur or manager, I sought out more development opportunities at BofA, still with the intranet team.  I think this was about the time of the 2008-2009 recession when finding work was hard for many people.  For the next 2 - 3 years spent much of my time doing programming and web analytics.  Later, due to funding, I was asked to join the support team full time again, and I began to look for something that could make better use of my abilities and interests.  I was able to transfer to the division that works on the bank's online banking application for businesses (CashPro) as a senior developer, but after only eight months there I got hit by in bank's Feb. 2014 round of layoffs.

So far my career has not had the rocket propelled trajectory that I expected many years ago, for a variety of reasons (economic recessions, my own choices, family obligations).  But it has not been bad, either, and I never give up struggling to do the best I can in whatever context I find myself.  Ostensibly, most of my working days are still ahead of me.


Current Status

Saying "I was laid off" is not really the best way of saying it.  I am always wanting to take things to the next level, and being out of work for a brief time has given me time to work on skills and be with the family a little more.

There are some programming skills I do not have on my resume (Spring, Hibernate, Hadoop, etc.), and I don't have years of experience with data science, but I know that I can program and I know I can think somewhat logically and creatively.


Future Goals

Ostensibly, most of my working years are still ahead of me, so goals are essential.

Motivation

I am hoping to make the world a better place by writing quality software to solve hard problems.  One domain that is getting a lot of attention right now is Big Data, so I have been educating myself on how to write code to find meaningful information from large data sets.  Data Science is not the only area I can see myself writing code, but it is where the world is going right now.  I would also enjoy writing software for medical applications.  It would be great if in the next few years I could find a way to write code to process data for medicine or biological sciences (such as genomics or evidence based medicine) but that would require more education in biological sciences.


Concrete goals for next few years

  • Work in software development, with at least a moderately complex application

  • work with software development in the area of data science, such as business analytics or healthcare analytics, where I can be involved in answering important questions

  • Possibly learn enough about statistics and biological sciences to write biomedical applications.