Matt Dooley

AcquiaU Session: 
2014 Winter Session

Former graphic designer turned full-fledged Drupalist

I've always seen myself as a creative minded person. I went to school for graphic design and firmly believed that I was always going to be a designer. I loved everything about graphic design, from developing concepts to delivering the final product. I was passionate about color, type, layout, structure and hierarchy of information. After graduating art school with my shiny new BFA, I was offered a design position at the company I had been working at while I was in school. Although I was excited to finally be working on real projects, what I quickly learned was that the things that I valued as a designer, usually weren’t the same things that mattered to the client.

After working there for a while, I still had a passion for design, but felt like I wasn’t able to do my best work and became frustrated with my job. When I convinced the company to let me rebuild their website, things changed. I had never built a website before but this seemed like an opportunity to learn something new. This was my turning point. I didn't realize it at the time but this is what set me on my path to learning Drupal and eventually finding my way to AcquiaU. At first I made a lot of mistakes. I understood very little of how the software worked. I didn’t know anything about PHP, databases, or any programming languages. I was a graphic designer, not a programmer. However, I was able to teach myself enough to put together a functional website, and through the process I became fascinated by what this software could do. After a couple years of working with Drupal, and several iterations of this website, I realized that this might be something I could do for real. I considered going back to school and getting a formal education in web development, but didn't find anything that looked credible or promising enough to leave my full time job to go explore. In the meantime, I continued to learn from online resources and eventually started going to the Boston Drupal meetups. I met a handful of people from companies who were looking for Drupal developers, but never really felt like I had the chops to apply. Finally, in the October 2014 Boston Drupal meetup Amy Parker from Acquia gave a presentation about the AcquiaU program. This was a game changer. I had known about Acquia for a while, but also knew that there’s no way I’d ever be seriously considered for a position there with my self-taught Drupal knowledge and lack of experience. However, this was different. They weren’t looking for experience, they were looking for potential. I knew instantly that this was a golden opportunity. This was the program I was looking for, and decided to apply. To my surprise, I got a call from Acquia within a couple of days. I interviewed the following week, and that afternoon I got the call saying that I had been accepted to the program. So far the program has completely exceeded my expectations. I am learning more than I expected, making new friends, and working with some of the brightest and best people in the Drupal community. I couldn’t be happier!