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If you asked Elias ten years ago where he’d be today, he probably wouldn’t have said working as a developer in the Midwest. But for the last few years Elias has been cranking out code with We Write Code in Des Moines. We sat down with him to reflect on how an outdoorsy brewer from the West Coast ends up in the Midwest slinging code.

Hey Elias! Thanks for chatting. Let’s get into it. Did you always see yourself where you are now—career or otherwise?

Not at all, no. I’m originally from Washington State and went to a liberal arts school called The Evergreen State College where I studied organic farming and history. After college I pursued a career in the brewing industry, during which time, I taught myself to write code.

My mom’s family is from South Dakota and Minnesota so we’d visit when I was younger, and I never saw myself moving to the midwest. But here I am.

How do you go from being a brewer on the west coast to a midwestern developer?

I decided to pursue brewing while my wife went back to school for medicine. I did that for about five years, and it started to sink in that this was a career that would break me physically and the money wasn’t worth the labor. So I started teaching myself code, and when we had the opportunity to move to Iowa for my wife’s schooling, I vowed I would never brew again.

Once we were in Des Moines I came across a brewing startup, which was the perfect synergy of my interests and experience. After some time with that company, I was able to land a job with We Write Code through a mutual acquaintance.

Do you ever miss being on your feet, or the idea of working outside?

I’ll admit, there are times where I don’t love sitting at my desk. I miss the benefits of physically active work. But I don’t think I will return to brewing, but maybe some “light” agriculture. There are a lot of things about development that I like. The creative aspect of programming was always my thing—there are so many ways to solve a problem, and it’s always changing. I like knowing I’ll always be challenged and have opportunities to learn. Ideally, I’d work as a programmer remotely and have a small hobby farm. 

We have to ask: what’s some advice that you’d give to someone just starting out?

Don’t try to learn it all. Look at your feet as you climb the hill, not the horizon.

My journey has been learning to learn. Instead of focusing on what I don’t know, it’s about recognizing the signs that “Oh, I’m getting better at this”, or “This was impossible two weeks before”. Learning how to build software has made me realize that if I want to spend the time and discipline, you can learn almost anything. It’s all about the time commitment and persistence.

One last question: are you still into beer?

Actually, I don’t really drink beer any more. I’m more of a cider or cocktail guy, though I do go for a good Oktoberfest.