I have also started to put stuff in my portfolio.
Back? After skimming my resume, people often ask me to explain my story. Here's the overview.
I toyed with programming all my life. I worked a succession of jobs where my problems could be solved more easily via software than the tools I had. So, I decided to commit to the process of becoming a developer, and haven't looked back.
My journey to programming started with early forays into QBASIC and TI-BASIC. I inherited a TI-81 calculator in High School. My days in algebra class were spent half-listening to instruction while writing more and more elaborate programs while repeatedly exhausting the 2400 bytes of user RAM.
Using the income from my part-time jobs, I upgraded to a TI-86. Between learning the ins and outs of its interface and using it for class, I began crafting more and more elaborate programs, culminating in a game that I later realized was organized in a crudely object-oriented architecture.
After high school, I entered the Electrical Engineering program at the University of Illinois. It was there I fell in with the CS crowd, and through them was enamored enough with software development that I started taking CS classes.
I left college to enlist in the Army in 2003. While I did get to live my dream of being a (M1A1 Abrams) tank crewman for half my enlistment, it was not to be. My CO realized what a resource he had in me, and I got press-ganged into being the unit Administrative Assistant (Company Training Room NCO, for those of you who speak military).
In this job, and many of my subsequent jobs after the military—administrative assistant, research assistant, adjunct professor, grant administrator—I felt hampered by the tools that were at my disposal. On the one hand, I could see that having first-class programmatic tools to solve my problems would be a great boon; on the other, I could not imagine inflicting any sort of complex code on a successor. For almost ten years, then, I moved through a career that benefited strongly from my skills with Excel and VBA, while feeling like I always had one hand tied behind my back.
In 2014, I decided enough was enough, and resolved to learn programming and make that my full-time career.
I have a list of skills I aspire to learn on top of these, but right now my focus is on learning higher-order (object oriented) architectural and design principles.