TagWork

What I want to be when I grow up

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. When I was young, I wanted to work as a designer and one day own a design shop. I laid out newspapers in college in print. Then when the web became a medium of its own, I started learning HTML and CSS and tried to expand my work there.

I graduated college with a degree in Creative Advertising. It taught me I didn’t want to work in advertising. I wanted to work in design. But the economy was terrible and I had to find a job.

I fell into tech support. First supporting a rollout of Windows XP computers. Then moving into the world of quick printing then back to tech support. I’ve worked in some version of technical support since 2007.

In the past decade I’ve worked in some interesting places and some I’d rather forget. I find the challenge in solving problems fascinating. But fixing the same problem every day is a fast path to burnout.

I got out of straight technical support and fell into event management and webinars. An opportunity presented itself and I took it. And now a couple of years later, I find myself at another crossroads. I’ve hit a place where I need to make a major decision.

Where do I go with my career?

What I do

I could keep doing what I’m doing and work in Rich Media and Unified Communications. Explaining WebEx and teleconferencing to people. Organizing upgrades and planning future applications and tools to help communications.

I enjoy the technical challenges of building out a system for our customers. I want to help make their life easier and worry less about technology and more about what they do. I don’t want a chemist to worry about her WebEx account. I want her worrying about chemistry.

What I could do

Technical Writing / Documentation

I also have an interest in technical writing and documentation. I like to document how things work. I enjoy testing them to see how systems and applications work in practice. I need to know how something works and write it down so I remember it later.

I enjoy explaining how things work. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and writing out detailed steps to repeat a process. I’ve always prided myself on my documentation work and always made a point to document as much as I could. Either for my team (or myself) or the customer.

I live by the idea of helping out Future Carl. I’m going to need this again and I won’t remember when I do so I better write it down. If I don’t help Future Carl out, who will?

Event Planing

There were aspects of my last job around event planning I enjoyed. I enjoyed the logistical planning for successful events. Granted, I was working in a single building (most of the time) and with a set group of people (government employees).

But I worry about the long-term appeal of the work. Will it get old after a short time? Will it be fulfilling? Or stressful?

Technical Track

I could go more technical. Find a path to take I enjoy. Whether it be in the realm of Unified Communications & Rich Media where I am now. Or if I take another branch from the tree of technology.

The problem with that is I don’t know what I want to do with myself. There are lots of things that seem interesting. But are they hobbies, fleeting interests or solid career paths?

The common thread in all my work is helping people and making things work better. I want to take the challenge out of technology and make it work for the people who need it. Not the other way around. I want to help people do their work better. I need to figure out how best to do that in a fulfilling and profitable way.

Stability Shutdown

I remember when government work was stable. My parents told me about working for the government in glowing terms. The stability. The good pay and benefits.

But I am a contractor for the government. The pay is good. The benefits are all over the place and there’s a threat of shutdown almost every year.

The last time was 2014. I got a nice unpaid vacation for 21 days. In 2015 it almost happened again. And tonight I got to enjoy the same stress. Only this time they settled it on Thursday instead of midnight Friday.

Each time they do the bare minimum. The government is funded… Until Jan 21st. The Democrats didn’t want to be seen as the cause of the shutdown which the Republicans would have tried to pin squarely on them. So the Senate voted to help the GOP out and keep working.

Not that any of them are going to work. They get to go on vacation. While I get to finish mine with a job to come back to. And hope we don’t go through this all over again next month.

Fires

Running around fires makes you feel good because you’re solving problems and you’re busy. But you’re not solving problems. You’re dealing with the unsolved problems that caught fire and need your immediately attention.

If you were solving problems, you wouldn’t be fighting fires, you’d be watering down dry wood and putting matches away. Look for potential fires. Stop them before they start.

Manton’s 30 Libraries

Manton Reece visited 30 libraries in 30 days in Austin, TX.

They’re great, quiet places to work. You can scroll through his entire journey using his #newlibraries tag. There are some great pictures and thoughts about each library.

Comfortable

What am I doing here?

I just turned 35 and I’m working at a help desk. I just turned 35 and I spend my days answering phones telling people their user names or reactivating their accounts. I spend my days doing the same thing I did the day I left college.

I’m very well paid for the work I do. It’s not fulfilling nor interesting. It’s not something I enjoy or think about. This job has no emotion to it at all. I go in to work and I shut off my brain. I don’t need it. It’s rote memorization and repetition of questions and facts.

But that’s also the point of this job. I don’t need anything challenging. I don’t need to spend my days struggling to solve hard problems or make the world a better place.

I perform a job, a function that’s needed and can’t be turned over to a robot. I answer phones and I talk to people. I enable them.

I’m an enabler. I help them where they would fail without me. I give them tools to complete their work. I fix problems and guide. I help.

My job is a job. I work. I go home. I don’t think about it any more. It’s not a challenge. It’s a job. It pays me. I can afford a nice place to live. I pay my bills. I can afford a nice life and to travel and live in a nice house with my wonderful wife. I can afford to be comfortable.

I buy comfort with my job.

The callers keep me comfortable. They fill the hours. They pay my bills. They keep me working. They keep me comfortable.

Comfortable isn’t the worst thing in the world.

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