I've just quitted my nice, good paid and safe job as a Front End developer with more than six years of experiences to go to university and spend the next five to six years to achieve a master's degree in geoscience.
Because web development isn't a thing I really chose to do. I just fell into it and it paid the bills. But I really want to work for space agencies or space research institutions as a scientist to contribute to the progress of space travel and space science. That's why I press the "new start" button and try to change my life in a direction where I can do that.
It took me years to figure this out, but when I look back it was getting more and more obvious.
The fascination about the sky, stars and planets, about earth and how the earth was formed, about how galaxies or the universe was formed, where always there. But there were no one who just listened to what I really wanted to do. It always was just about "kid, you have to get a job and earn money".
Only after I started making my way in web development and earning self-awareness, because there were people promoting me (the fine people at 9elements in first place), I figured out ways to make things real.
The first thing was my crowdfunding project Little Astronaut in 2012, which ended up with two successfully weather balloon flights and, among other things, this beautiful video:
Turned out that I'm good at setting a goal, gather informations about how to reach it and eventually make it real. Even if I never had any loose previous knowledge about it.
(Sure there were some well known web awards I won a year before that, which caused me thinking that web development could be a thing for me, but let's focus on my dreams)
So, I did managed to make photos and videos from about 30000 meters above the earth, and it was absolutely stunning to see the results.
(At least until Felix Baumgartner flew and jumped by himself. Since then I just get asked "did you also jumped?!", and when I say "no, it was a remote flight with a weather balloon and cameras attached" I get an "oh, okay,... well, also quite cool")
By the way, if you also want to do such a near space weather balloon mission, I wrote this article a while ago: How to near space.
Some years later, after I worked for several companies as an employee or freelancer, I started recognizing that I don't want to learn more new things in web development. I never really was into programming, that's why I always felt good being a Front End developer. Combining design with a little bit of programming was just enough to know for me. Sure, I was good at what I did, but I never had the passion to go further although I got many chances to do so.
Just because you're good at something doesn't mean that you love to do it.
And then there was a crisis. I really felt like I do something wrong. I absolutely didn't wanted to learn anything new in web development. And I hated everyone around me loving to do so. And I didn't liked all the new things popping out of the communities. Damn you JS Frameworks. Damn you ECMA-Script-whatever-thingies only Backend Developers seemed directly to understand. I started hating everything new in web development. I just started hating everything.
I loudly said "if I could earn this money in a completely different job, I probably would do the other job now" to a couple of coworkers. And I started thinking about what I could do.
In the end, I always came to the same conclusion. Sure I would love to do another thing. But no other job would grant me this amount of money from the start, or maybe even after several years. I had grown a living standard. And I had to support my wife with finding her dream job (Since no one was there or able to do this for me many years ago, I wanted to give her what I never had. "What do you really want to do? Regardless of the money you'll earn?" and helped her go this way).
And so I changed nothing and just accepted that it's probably too late for me anyway.
In the meantime, movies like "Iron Man" inspired me to finally make something useful with my Raspberry Pi. I ended up buying another one and build my own Email- and DropBox servers. I started realizing that I like to have those web development and rudimentary development skills, but I only learn more about those things to finish whole projects and not for the purpose of getting better in programing. It's just a tool.
I also like to experiment and try things out. So I did with my Bitcoin on oil:
And I got interested in solar power and gained some knowledge around it. Eventually I've built a frame and installed a small solar panel on my window sill which powers some of my smart devices and power banks since then:
Solar Panel Usage In The City
I also bought a little digital camera with a great optical zoom with which I started making photos of the moon. Especially from the "super blood moon" in 2015. It was stunning!
Each of these activities were fun to make and I learned a lot in those topics, but I didn't thought about connecting them or if they could all be part of one thing for me.
Eventually they guided me to Elon Musk and his companies Tesla Motors and SpaceX. I searched for videos, interviews and some background knowledge about him. I bought and read his biography, and the more I learned about him, the more I felt like "damn,... he does all those amazing things, and I build websites for browser games, some startups or some other advertising stuff. What do I contribute to push humanity forward? A landing page for online dating websites, for example! That's nothing. That's so absolutely nothing. I don't want that. He does amazing things and I do this nonsense. That's not what I want to do 8 hours a day for up to six days a week until the rest of my life. I need a change".
I started play the lottery. Not for the purpose to win a big amount of money to sit back and relax on a beach for the rest of my life, no, for the purpose to contribute to those amazing things. I started investing time, besides my job, in ideas and creating websites which hopefully would go big and maybe would be bought by some big companies for much money.
But soon I realized, if you want to make something that big, you will have to believe in it and love what you do. Which I didn't. And so I just continued my job and tried to make progress there, to earn more money. Maybe that would help reaching some other goals.
Daily routine came back in my normal, boring, nonsense job. I started thinking "maybe now is the right time to have kids. Maybe then I would have something important to do in my life". But my wife didn't wanted it then. We're both comparatively young. Married with 25 (she) and 26 (me), she said it would be a better idea to firstly set our own work life to a level where we can better support our kids. I already got there, but she had to do more progress in her career, so I totally agreed.
I started to work in a new company where I managed to not stress myself, rest a bit and simultaneously get all things done on time. Money was good. Coworkers and superiors were nice. And I felt like I could work there with only 50% brain capacity and still get everything done in good quality (not because it's super easy, but because many things are really well organized in this company so that you can focus on your job). It was the first company where everything was right and there was no other disturbing thing that needed my attention. So I was able to fully concentrate on myself, my thoughts and my feelings.
And then there was Interstellar.
I saw the movie at home on mid 2015, about a year after it came out in cinemas. And it shook me. It started a whole new level of "I want to know more about this".
I started watching YouTube channels like Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell, SciShow Space or PBS Space Time and I always wanted more. Every day I sprinkled myself with new things I learned from videos likes these. And it fascinated me. Nearly everything fascinated me around space science.
I started searching for new companies to work for as a Front End developer. Companies like SpaceX. SpaceX had a free vacancy as a Front End developer for their systems. So no advertising "we need you to build our landing page" stuff. No, important things on their machines and stuff which they need to build their rockets and stuff. I applied to the vacancy, but got declined some days after that. Unfortunately it all was going through a system where I didn't got any message about why I got declined. I managed to figure out the email address of one of their human resource managers and kindly asked for the reason why. On the same day I got an answer. Unfortunately they can't accept applicants from outside the US without a green card, which didn't have. If I would have one, they would have been interested in going further steps with me.
I was some kind of proud. But I also knew, after I searched for other companies in this field to work for, that SpaceX is the only company so far where I could work as a Front End developer.
And the worst of all, I still had no passion for my job. So I still didn't wanted to learn new things in web development. With this in my head, I finally realized, I can't work for space companies or any kind of these as a Front End developer. I don't think CSS3 is THAT important on a Mars robot mission.
I continued working half brained and without any passion in my job.
Some weeks later I visited our local observatory which inflamed my interest in space even more. I decided to buy myself a telescope (finally!). I had this idea for many years, but it seemed so complex and complicated to do things with it, that I never dared to try it. It's just nothing to shortly dive into after watching one tutorial video. It's expansive and it needs time.
I bought a Celestron NexStar Evolution 6 telescope and some equipment. I also bought a Canon EOS 600. And after dozens of things I read and watched about telescopes, I made my first shots:
And it was just awesome.
So I bought some more equipment for both, my telescope and my camera. I was able to "connecting the dots" (Photography was part of my design assistant apprenticeship, I made some internships in photographic studios and did some small jobs by shooting weddings or music bands) and also made milky way photography:
In just some weeks I improved my skills to shoot things through my telescope by only using my Canon EOS 600:
It felt so amazingly good. It was just right. But it wasn't enough. I wanted more. I wanted to gain more knowledge about how earth was formed. How planets and stars are formed. How's the ground on Earth and Mars.
So, everything was clear. I need to study this to learn more about it and eventually work in this area.
I started collecting informations about which degree courses exist to become a scientist in this direction. This is how I found geoscience. Shortly after I read informations about what a geoscientist would do and what a geoscientist knows, I knew, this is the thing I want to do, even if it's potentially not paid as good as a Senior Front End Dev (I don't know, and I don't care).
And now, the tracks are set, and I have applied to a bachelor degree in geoscience. My wife stands behind me, and I can work up to 16 hours a week as a Front End freelancer to get the needed money for my household (probably by building landing pages, hahaha).
It's a risk to get away from the well worn path, but I'm only 28 and if I wouldn't do it now, I probably really wouldn't have the chance to do it later.
Sure, I would have loved to had someone who supported me to go this way some years earlier, but in the end, everything I've done so far has formed me and was good to gain skills which will help me sooner or later.
I'm really excited about what's coming and I know it will not be easy, but I'm willing to go this path and I hope it guides me into space science and the direction I want to go.
The current goals are:
- Achieve the bachelor degree in geoscience
- Achieve the master's degree in geoscience
- Get a job in the planetary research institute of german air and space center (DLR)
Let's look at this article in five to six years again and hope everything got it's way :)