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  • Writer's pictureDave Harris

Dave's Story: Hardship to High-Tech Success

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

I was only twenty, and it felt like everything was falling apart – rent overdue, my girlfriend fed up, and even a simple meal of ramen seemed too expensive. It was 1998, in the middle of the dot-com boom. I possessed a knack for computers, but there was a glaring gap in my qualifications – no formal education, no experience, not even a high school diploma.

Image Credit: Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, 1991

The looming threat of failure finally pushed me to take action. In a somewhat

embarrassing twist, my inspiration came from the movie, “Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead,” where Christina Applegate's character lands a corporate job with a fake resume. With nothing to lose, I pulled a resume off the internet, altered the names, and faxed it to every company hiring in Los Angeles. Remarkably, my phone began ringing within hours and continued to ring for the next two weeks.

For interviews, I wore a second-hand suit, which was a funny contrast with my long blue hair and scruffy goatee. After three interviews, I received a job offer from Belkin, a small computer cable company located in Compton. There was just one catch: they had a strict “no long hair and no facial hair” policy. They asked me to cut my hair and shave, and when they disclosed my salary, the equivalent of $70,000 today, the clippers and razor came out.

Despite my expectations of being let go within the week, I resolved to give it my best

Former Belkin office in Compton

shot. The fear of getting caught made my stomach churn, but I managed to learn the job by constantly asking, “My previous company did this differently; how do you do it here?”

A few months later, the opportunity for a position in programming opened up. Initially, I turned it down, as faking my way through programming seemed impossible. I watched a coworker accept the position and despite having no more knowledge than I did, he managed to learn and excel in the role.

When the next programming position opened, I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by. Learning to program transformed my perspective, and I began seeing the world through if-then statements. An early mentor marveled at my ease in programming.

As Belkin expanded, I advanced in my role, becoming a Senior Programmer Analyst and implementing a million-dollar computer system in the US, UK, and China. My love for travel led me to work on implementing systems worldwide. With the offices now fully integrated, I decided to move and relocate to Portland.

My last manager and mentor at Belkin advised me to consider consulting to round out my professional skills. After eight years of “faking it,” landing a job with an honest resume was a huge relief. Consulting allowed me to continue traveling and implementing systems, even leading to a move to Hong Kong.

Over time, my career transitioned into team leadership roles, eventually advancing to management and business leadership positions that took me to Taiwan and India. Now, after managing technical teams for over a decade, I understand the value of asking questions and learning from those around you.

My own experience planted the seed for Tendril, a mission to help individuals with untapped talent find the opportunities they deserve. I knew there were more people out there with natural talent that the industry was overlooking, and it became my purpose and mission to help them find their path.

Dave in Hong Kong Harbor

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