I’ve often felt like an underdog in my profession; I don’t have a CS degree and I didn’t line up a position doing web programming until I was 25. I never lived in a tech-hub and none of my friends or family ever wrote code or started a business, so I had no connections or mentors (I knew a lot of dentists, though, for what it’s worth).
Of course, all of us are underdogs in some way. There are always people out there with more advantages than you. They got started earlier, or went to a better school, or had better connections, or didn’t have to fight against various forms of bias.
But there’s another reason I identify as an underdog. Underdogs are fast, hungry, and they have something to prove. I want to be like that. And when the story I tell myself is one where I am the underdog, then it’s easy for me to adopt those attitudes and behaviors. It’s unconscious.
I remember an conversation I had with Sparkbox leadership before I was hired. We were talking about technical excellence when one of them said “I’ve spent time in Sillicon Valley… we can do just as good of work, and we can do it from Dayton, Ohio.”
Underdogs, I thought, smiling.