David Beazley is an independent author, educator, and researcher primarily known for his ongoing work in the Python community. Dave's early career focused on the use of Python in scientific computing and the creation of the Swig utility that allowed existing C/C++ software to be controlled from Python and other scripting languages. In 1999, he authored the Python Essential Reference, the first reference book published on Python. From 1998-2005, Dave was a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Since 2007, he has operated Dabeaz LLC, a business primarily focusing on training, research, and consulting.
David continues to be active in the Python community and is a frequent conference speaker. In 2013, he authored a new edition of the Python Cookbook, modernized to Python 3. In 2016, he recorded a video training series on the Python Programming Language. 2016 also saw the launch of two new software projects, Curio and SLY. He is currently working on the 5th edition of the Python Essential Reference.
David has a Ph.D. in computer science and a M.S. in mathematics. [ Academic CV ]
I've done a variety of things over the course of my career. However, rather than blathering about that, I thought I'd share the story of my lucky career break.
Over the winter of 1990, I sent my resumé to about 100 science/technology companies seeking a college internship. Of those that bothered to respond, it was a pretty unanimous rejection. So, I went home after my junior year of college without any specific plan. Given that I was pretty adept at keyboarding, I applied to work as a "Kelly Girl" and was immediately sent off to work at a software company--Sybase. Mind you, not for coding, but for answering the phone, working on random clerical tasks, and manning the front reception desk (presumably to protect the office from anyone claiming to be from Oracle--the purported enemy).
About two weeks into that, my mom got a mysterious call from someone in the "Cognitive Systems Engineering Group, A-Division" back at the house while I was away. I returned the call and had a rather murky conversation with someone wondering if was still interested in an internship. I asked "what would I be doing?" They said, "I'm not really sure." I replied, "Okay, when can I start?"
I found out later that I got the job due to nepotism--well a failed attempt at it. Apparently, someone wanted to hire their kid as an intern and the whole group erupted in chaos. So, at the last minute someone went to the office receptionist, Ms. Martinez, with instructions to "find someone else." By good fortune, Ms. Martinez had graduated from the same no-prestige college that I attended. So from one office receptionist to another, there must have been a weird synergy there.
Upon arrival, I found that the group was creating software to train workers how to safely handle radioactive materials. They asked if I knew how to do anything useful and I mentioned I'd previously done a bit of 6502 assembler. So, they immediately put me to work writing code to make slickly animated protons, neutrons, electrons, and gamma rays whiz around on the screen. Naturally, this was all to be coded in 8086 assembler--because how else were you supposed to control the graphics card? Duh!
Anyways, that's the story of how I got my foot in the door at Los Alamos at the start of my early career. It wasn't my coding as a kid. Or going to a fancy school (not). Or any kind of obvious "meritocracy." It was basically just a bunch of dumb luck, me returning a phone call, and the random eye of Ms. Martinez. I definitely owe her a lot wherever she might be now.
I often think about my lucky break and how I might pay it forward. If you're a student, you're willing to spend a summer in Chicago, and you don't know exactly what you might want to work on, contact me.