There’s an old saying that age is just a number and that a person is never too old to try new things. Andrew Melson has put those two adages into practice recently, and the 36-year-old Mainer is now the happiest he’s been.
“I consider myself a late bloomer, and I owe a lot of this happiness to Trueline and the positive force it’s been in my life,” says Melson, who joined the company as a content developer in February 2020.
Melson’s story starts, however, in South Portland. Growing up there, he was surrounded by technology thanks to a stepdad who always had the newest gadgets, whether that was a Sega Dreamcast or a computer with a now miniscule 8MB of RAM. He quickly developed a love of gaming—Counterstrike, EverQuest and Half-Life remain his favorites—and that love led him on an interesting journey that continues today.
As soon as Melson and his brother could, they purchased their own computer for their bedroom. They gamed as much as they could, and that experience as a teenager paved the way for something Melson would do in his early 30s.
After high school, he enrolled at the University of Maine-Farmington but left when he couldn’t decide on a major. More than a decade later, he began studying biochemistry at the University of Southern Maine. He left USM but didn’t give up on his dream of graduating from college.
While working for a vitamin and supplement company, Melson and a friend realized energy drinks were only being marketed to football players and other athletes. But what about the serious gamers and esports athletes who have personal trainers, personal chefs and prepare for their competitions in many of the same ways?
“A lot of ideas came to mind, and that’s when we came up with I/O Energy,” Melson says of the company he co-founded to focus on the needs of the esports industry.
With the help of beverage scientists, I/O Energy created a proprietary formula and unique product that Melson and his partner took to a convention in Florida. Without enough money to do it alone, Melson presented his company’s product and plan to investors. Ultimately, there wasn’t enough interest.
Throughout the process, Melson learned a lot about starting a business and creating a business plan, including finances, distribution, storage and marketing.
“I also learned that I wasn’t afraid of failing,” Melson says.
And that confidence is something he would need on his next adventure.
A Focus on Technology
With the energy drink business on the back burner, Melson decided to enroll in the cybersecurity program at Southern New Hampshire University with the near-term goal of working for a government agency protecting crucial data and information. It’s an evergreen industry with millions more available jobs than people qualified or interested in those jobs.
For an industry where entry-level security engineer positions routinely pay more than $100,000 annually, there aren’t a lot of people putting the time and effort into getting a degree in cybersecurity. The industry pays well and, as long as technology exists, there will be a need for people to protect it.
“It’s such an interesting field because in order to do things legally you must know how to do it illegally,” Melson says with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. “To defend against hacking, you really need to know how to hack.”
With a degree in cybersecurity, Melson says he’ll be able to work in whatever industry he wants. In fact, Gartner Inc., a research and advisory firm, predicts worldwide security spending will hit $170 billion in 2022, an 8% increase in just one year.
“There’s such a need, and there’s so many opportunities out there,” Melson says.
Leveling up with Trueline
When it was clear that the energy drink industry was too tough to crack, at least right now, Melson knew he needed a more stable job than bartending. He found one in the unlikeliest of places.
“I consider myself a late bloomer, and I owe a lot of this happiness to Trueline and the positive force it’s been in my life.”
Melson had been practicing kung fu for about two years when he started training with a younger martial artist. Before long, his training partner, Blake Davis, suggested Melson apply to Trueline as a content developer. Melson joined a training class that included current content developer Anders Nielsen.
“We went remote after about a month, and though I didn’t get to know people as much as I would have liked, I enjoy everybody very much,” Melson says. “Everyone is unique and personable and able to be themselves. We’ve all adapted and are committed to making remote work successful.”
“Everyone is unique and personable and able to be themselves. We’ve all adapted and are committed to making remote work successful.”
While providing a steady income and establishing new friendships has been nice, Melson says he’s reaped some intangible benefits since joining Trueline nearly two years ago. When he started, he was living with his brother; now he lives with his long-term partner in an apartment in Portland. And he’s back in college.
“My life has changed since working for Trueline, and I’ll always be thankful for everything Trueline has given me and allowed me to become,” Melson says.
The Full Andrew Melson:
Did you know? Melson is a competent miniature painter, weightlifter and cook and shares his birthday—August 23—with Kobe Bryant, Keith Moon, Gene Kelly and General Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne.
Who’d play you? Henry Cavill aka Superman and Geralt of Rivia
Bucket list: Visiting Japan and starting a family
Greatest achievement so far: Going back to college for a degree in cybersecurity at age 36