How Jack Black Helped Me Quadruple My Income and Land My Dream Job
by Luis Rocha
Nov 07, 2017
The Legend of the Rent Was Way Past Due
The year was 2015 and I was stuck. I was wasting my time at a dead-end retail job and putting off the pursuit towards my dream job. Does this sound familiar? I bet it does.
Earth To Steven: I'm Not for That World.
A transition from retail to tech would see a huge change in lifestyle. I’d go from making minimum wage to making an adult salary with sweet benefits and perks. That was a huge jump that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Who was I to deserve that? I had friends with fancy college degrees and impressive corporate internships that still worked at the local coffee shop. I was a college dropout with no experience outside of selling clothes and a side-hustle in photography. I certainly wasn’t more worthy of a career than them. Yet, I still couldn’t shake my calling to tech.
Enter: Jack Black.
My aspirations were not that different from that of Black’s characters, many of whom were underdogs with clearly defined dream jobs. These characters had a long ways to go and a lot to learn before they unlocked their full potential and would spend most of the movie trying to figure out how to go from zero to hero.
Dewey Finn was a mooch with musical talent who aspired to climb to the top of Mount Rock. Nacho was a humble friar who longed for the glory and accolades that came with being a dominant Luchador. Po, a clumsy and uncoordinated panda, was destined to become the Dragon Warrior even though he had no formal training in Kung-Fu.
At some point while reflecting on these characters, I uncovered the secret to success.
The Secret Ingredient.
One fateful night, I spent an eternity browsing Netflix looking for something that was actually worth watching. I decided on Kung-Fu Panda. It was at this point that I came across the key to unlocking my potential and landing my dream job. The key came in the form of a secret ingredient, an ingredient that transformed regular old noodle soup into special a more expensive noodle soup. Could this secret ingredient also turn my job into a career? Check out this short video clip from the movie before you keep reading:
Thats right. The secret ingredient to Mr. Ping’s secret ingredient noodle soup is ~nothing~. THERE IS NO SECRET INGREDIENT It’s plain-old noodle soup. By giving this soup a fancier name, Mr. Ping is able to program his customer’s brains into tasting something more delicious than it actually is. His regular noodle soup is tasty enough, it just needs a little mental re-wiring to push it to the next level. To make something special, you just have to believe its special.
This heaping helping of noodley wisdom made me realize that I already had everything I needed to become a programmer. I didn’t need a pedigreed education to deserve this dream job, I simply had to BELIEVE in myself and my abilities. This level of self-confidence will help you create a vision so rock-solid that it won’t matter how many times you fail while you make your way towards your big breakthrough moment.
If you don’t re-wire your brain and see yourself as a special kind of winner, then there is no way you can expect anyone else to believe in you either. You can’t expect an admissions director to think you’ve got what it takes to make it through their program if you don’t even think you’ve got what it takes. Why would a hiring manager believe in you if you don’t even believe in yourself. Try talking to yourself like a winner instead of as an underdog and your mind will begin to fill in the blanks for you and drive you towards success.
This mindset was everything I needed to get started. I quickly began applying to coding bootcamps and whenever I found myself doubting that I could get into a certain prestigious program I would remind myself of the secret ingredient and remember that my passion and desire to learn to code was enough to turn me into a DRAGON WARRIOR… erm, developer. I definitely meant developer.
Long story short, I was eventually accepted into the Galvanize Web Development Bootcamp, an intense six month program and my top choice. I pushed through the program the same way that Po pushed through his martial arts training, the way Nacho hustled to learn the art of Lucha Libre, and the way that Dewey became a rock-and-roll role model: with an unrelenting belief in myself. After graduation, I got my first job in tech and the rest is history! I had finally been given the title I dreamt of having for years. I went from a minimum wage worker who dreamt of a more fulfilling career path, to an employed and incredibly grateful programmer breaking into the San Francisco tech scene. I got the adult salary and benefits that at one point I didn’t think I deserved. If I can do it, then what’s stopping you?
Becoming The Dragon Warrior
“Oh sure, I just gotta BELIEVE in myself. How is that supposed to help me get the job?” That’s the thing: it’s not meant to be a quick fix. As they say: “the journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step”. Realizing that there is no secret ingredient towards getting hired at your dream job won’t turn it to reality overnight. It will, however, give you the drive and moxy to pursue that job and realize that you ARE worthy - and that right the first step.
Here are some practical tips towards developing the mindset of a dragon warrior:
- Think about your dream job. Narrow it down and be as specific as you can be. Determine your ideal title in your future career. Mine was Front End Developer.
- Grab a journal and write down all the reasons you want this job and want this change. Do you want work that will challenge you in new and exciting ways? Do you need to make more money for your growing family? Dig deep and find your why.
- List the skills and experience you already have that can begin contributing to this dream NOW.
- Find a sensei who already has your dream job and ask them to mentor you and give you advice. You'd be surprised at how often people are willing to help.
- Establish a detailed plan and timeline that will propel you towards your goal. Is it an application? An interview? Give yourself a deadline and commit to it.
- Visualize who you want to be in 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. Write it down and list ways you'll make it happen both in the short-term and the long-term.
- Put yourself in a situation where success is the only option. I took out a large loan to invest in my web development bootcamp, a loan I would spend years paying off. If I didn't make a career in tech a reality, I would still be on the hook for that loan and drown in my debt. You'll be amazed at how resourceful you can be when you desperately need to win.
I realize that there are more components towards getting you dream job and I plan to lay out a blueprint for you to help you land that job. Make sure you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter or follow me on Instagram or Twitter to keep up with my blog posts and get more tips towards accomplishing your dreams and getting that career that you already deserve.