A change in career and location, moving from Chicago to Ann Arbor
Tired of the time and travel demands of being a working dad in the sound and lighting industry, Jeff Webb decided it was time for a change in his career and his location. Inspired to spend as much quality time as he can with his young family, in a location where he could offer them all great quality of life, Jeff began to look for career opportunities outside of downtown Chicago.
Webb is no stranger to moving around the country. The Chicago native earned his undergrad degree in theater from Southern Methodist College in Dallas, Texas. “It was great place to get a theater degree, but not necessarily a great place for theater career,” he explained. “Growing up, I lived all over the country, including Phoenix, San Antonio, and Louisville.”
When considering where to settle his family, though, his career took a back seat. “The schools were a major factor,” said Webb. “My daughter was nearing school age. Although we loved Chicago, the reality of giving kids there a quality education within the public school system is tough.”
The family had relatives in Ann Arbor, and the more Jeff learned about the town, the more he liked the idea. “Ann Arbor rose to the top of the list quickly not only because of the schools, but because it has an awful lot going for it,” he explained. “ The University draws in a lot of creative energy and being a college town makes things very interesting. Plus, it’s nice to be able to be at a beautiful, quiet beach in a short drive.”
Next up on his agenda: finding a job. “Freelance stage tech work would mean I would need to spend more time on the road, away from my kids,” he said. “I knew I needed to switch careers and had always loved the technical side of my stagecraft work.”
Considering the local job market and some previous coding experience, Webb decided to pursue software development. “There are a lot of opportunities for developers in Ann Arbor,” Webb noted. He began pursuing a master’s degree at Eastern Michigan University, but quickly found full-time employment.
“I was looking for an internship and got in touch with Nexient (then called Systems in Motion). The company offers a lot of on-the-job training and the culture was a great fit for where I am now personally and professionally. They were interested in hiring me even before completing my degree.”
In its Ann Arbor delivery center, Nexient employs developers and other technologists they call “technology athletes.” Their teams typically supplement or accelerate other companies’ in-house development efforts.
Now three years into his new career with Nexient, Webb doesn’t regret the move for a minute.
“The fact is this job is never boring. There’s always a big problem solving element to what I do,” Webb explained of his current career.
“What I love most, though, is that I work ‘normal hours’ and get to spend time with my family. I even coach my son’s baseball team,” he adds. “I couldn’t do that in a typical tech consulting company where you’re always on the road with different clients.”
“I’ve got highly employable skills and am in a location where there are so many innovative companies looking for employees who do what I do,” he said. “I love being in a place where my career and my family can both be successful.”