On January 29, 2010, I wrote a blog article about how the iPad had just been announced. I wrote in that blog that even though my first impression of it was a bit negative, I was still going to buy one. On February 2, 2011, just a couple days over a year later, I started a new job working full time developing applications for the iPad! What a difference one year makes!
This job that I started doing iPad development in, is my first ever job where I was not doing Windows programming. Not only did I find a new job, but I essentially changed careers at the same time! It was interesting how all this happened.
Ever since the iPhone SDK (now called the iOS SDK) first came out in 2008, I've been interested in it. I started programming on the iPhone way back in 2008 with the beta SDKs. Within a couple months, I had my first iPhone app completed and launched on the App Store. It was NOT a very good app. Most of the time your first app in a new development platform isn't going to be very good because you are still learning how to use it. The app never really sold much. Maybe 10-20 copies a MONTH. Needless to say it wasn't a very profitable app. I toyed with several other iPhone apps along the way but never really made much progress on mastering iPhone/iOS development. While doing this, I continued to work at my current full time Windows development job. This was a job I was not very happy at, but I took the 'comfortable' route and continued to work there and collect a paycheck. Over this time, my iOS development stagnated and largely grinded to a halt for a year or so.
In January of 2010, they announced the iPad (as I mentioned in that blog). In March of 2010 they released the first betas of the iPad SDK. This SDK was very similar to the iPhone SDK, with a few additions, so I already had somewhat of an understanding of it. But I hadn't done much work on the iPhone SDK in over a year so I was really rusty. Of course the release of the iPad renewed my interest in iPhone development, so I decided to adapt my first app to the iPad and 'refocus it' from kind of a joke app to a serious photo editor application for the iPad. I took parts of that old app and started a new project I called Photo Maker as my photo editor for the iPad. I spent about a month working on it in the iPad simulator. The iPad hardware hadn't been released yet so I had no way of testing it on the real device. Since the SDK was also in beta, I had no way of seeing how any other iPad apps worked so I didn't know the right way to do iPad apps. I just continued developing it in the same style as my first app.
A month later, the iPad was released, I bought one and they released the final SDK. I bought my iPad and started downloading iPad apps and seeing how they worked. I realized that the app I was writing had a UI that was completely wrong for the iPad, so I started the app over. I basically threw out a month's worth of work and started again fresh. This time I was determined to do it right. After a few weeks of working on the app, I was really starting to enjoy myself. I made the decision right then and there that I was not going to give up this time. I was going to devote my every spare minute to learning everything I can about iPad programming and try my damndest to do it right this time.
I spent a couple months working on it and released it in June of 2010. It made some sales, around 10-20 copies a day. Again certainly not enough to live on, but quite a bit better than that first app. Once that first version was released, I dove in and started working on updates. I've released several updates since then and I continue to work on it on a regular basis.
I had been wanting to leave the field of Windows development for years, but never really put much effort into doing so. I'd apply for an occaisional job here and there, but again only in Windows because I thought that was all I'd ever get hired for. After all, I had no work experience doing any kind of Mac/iPhone/iOS development, so noone would hire me. I continued my day job of working in Windows (unhappily) and my night job of working on the iPad (and enjoying it immensely) for months. I was not happy at my job but I was too lazy to do anything about it. I got comfortable. Of course, while I was comfortable, I was VERY unhappy at my job and this showed. I complained all the time at work and clearly was not a happy employee. In early December of 2010, my company decided that they'd had enough of that and they fired me.
Getting fired that day was the best thing that ever happened to me.
So now here it is, early December of 2010 and I am unemployed. December is NOT a good month to be looking for a job. It's the end of the year, so a lot of people are thinking of vacations, yearly budgets are used up, and noone is hiring. Despite that, I started looking. Of course I started looking for a Windows development job, thinking that's all I could ever get hired for. I had plenty of money in the bank. I could have easily lasted a year unemployeed so I wasn't stressed out about it. I spent the month of December looking for that Windows job without any luck. Despite my Windows job hunt, I knew what I really wanted was a job doing iPhone/iPad programming. I wanted to get out of the Windows world. I'd spent the better part of the last year working towards that goal.
I had been attending the Ft. Lauderdale CocoaHeads Users Group for many months before that ominous December day. I continued to do so. It was at one of these meetings that I mentioned that I was unemployed and looking for a job. I said that I was looking for a Windows job - to which my fellow CocoaHead's members (rightfully) looked at me like I was crazy. Why the hell was I looking for a Windows job if I was doing all this iPad development? That same night, I happened to get an email from a former CocoaHeads member who was now working out in California. I mentioned to him that I was looking for a new job and I'd like to work on iPads in that job. Turns out he was the hiring manager at his company out there (which I didn't know!) so he started forwarding iOS job listings he saw to me. He also suggested that I forward him my resume in case he came across any jobs I might qualify for. Of course it had never occured to me to contact him before about this since I figured, why ask a guy in California to help me find a job in Florida? But I sent him my resume anyway. I figured it couldn't hurt. He takes one look at my resume and writes back to me saying it was horrible! He suggested some changes to it to better emphasize my iPad experience (since that's what I wanted to find a job in). I took his suggestions and updated my resume. I submitted it to several jobs and a week later I had a job offer doing iPad programming!
I had sent my (iPad development) resume in to the company I now work for. They contacted me right back and asked me to come in for an interview. I came in and they brought me into the meeting room. I had brought my iPad with me with Photo Maker loaded on it to show them, to prove that I could do the iPad job. Of course when I get there, they say they are going to interview me for a Silverlight (Windows development) position! The company was also hiring for Windows and my resume showed some Silverlight experience so apparently there was some confusion on their part there. I told them that I had actually been brought in for an iPad development interview. So, they shuffled interviewers and brought over the head of the iPad team to interview me. We chatted and seemed to really hit it off. I showed him my app and pointed out various parts of the program and how I had written them. He showed me the early prototype of the company's iPad app. I went through his app and described my guesses as to how they had written it. We seemed to get along really well in the interview and I thought I he liked me. I later met the owner and chatted with him for a while. They thanked me and I left. Not an hour later they called me to offer me the job and wanted me to start the next day! I told them I would take the job, but I needed to start in two days, so that I could make a few prepartions for the job. They agreed and two days later (on February 2, 2011) I started the job. I'm still there now.
My friend out in California turned out to be instrumental in me getting this job. He helped me write a good resume that got me a job - a job I never thought I could get. Looking back on things now, I think what got me that job, in addition to the resume, was the fact that I had a proven track record in iPad development. I had a published iPad app on the App Store and I could prove in person that I was knowledgeable about this stuff. The iPad is a very new platform (just over a year old now), so you are not going to find anyone with 5 years of experience on the thing. However, in leiu of that, a proven track record of ability at the platform had substitued for work experience. This never occured to me. I learned a lot from this experience.
This is my first job where I work on a Mac all day. I don't even run Windows anymore. This is a GOOD thing. I am very happy about that fact. I have started a new career, and I find my enthusiasm about software development renewed by this shift to iPad work. For the first time in a long time, I actually enjoy my job. I am also doing very well at this job and never complain about things. Is the job perfect? No. No job is. But it is a far cry better than the job I left. I was unemployed for two months, but when I found a new job it was so much better than my old one (and making more money!) that I am glad I lost those two months of work. I never want to go back to Windows programming.