Categories
Business and work Coding

An awesome thread about developers’ careers

Stephanie Hurlburt asked for stories from developers about their career paths on Twitter, and it quickly became one of the best threads I’ve read in a while. As you can imagine, I have a particular interest in stories about other developers’ careers given my journey this year. This thread didn’t disappoint.

I started reading the thread when I woke up this morning and, boy, what a great way to start a day.

Categories
Business and work Events and Life Photography Writing

Thoughts about careers when I grow up

I enjoyed Jamie Rubin’s post titled “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up”, partly because I still ask myself what I want to do with the rest of my life? I am in the early years of my second career (or a return to an early career, of sorts) after being a lawyer for most of my professional life.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut, an astronomer, and a writer. One out of three isn’t too bad, I suppose. But most of my life, other people’s jobs have often seemed more interesting than my own. Perhaps it is an example of the grass being greener. Perhaps I am just easily influenced by what I see and read.

Rubin’s post reminded me of recurring thought that comes to me when I contemplate careers, particularly urges to change careers. I noticed that there is a difference between pursuing a passion and working in that field as a career, at least for me. I have often thought it would be great to be in a particular profession because it seems so exciting and fulfilling, only to realise that the day to day experience of that work isn’t quite what it seemed to be from the outside.

The best example of this was going into law. As a law student, reading cases and watching legal dramas on TV and in movies, legal practice had a certain appeal. I thought that practice would reflect what I saw in fiction. The reality was pretty different and involved a lot of admin and paperwork with little of the Boston Legal/Suits style and excitement.

I started to develop this theory that some types of work should remain passion pursuits and not full-time occupations. At the same time I suspect that this cynicism may be the result of not having found the expression of the work I find myself longing to do that helps me achieve that satisfaction I hope for.

In the meantime, I look for work that incorporates the activities I enjoy the most or, at least, afford me the time to pursue my passions around my work. My current career, content marketing, involves a lot of writing and strategy work. Both activities stimulate me.

I look at photographers I admire and wonder what it would be like to become a professional photographer. Spending my days with my camera in my hands seems like an almost ideal life and yet I know that behind those phenomenal shots is a lot of experience, hard work and funding to make it all happen. I also wonder if I have the skill to work at that level so I spend my non-work time making photographs, hopefully refining my skills along the way.

My plan for the year ahead is to make more of an effort to blend my photography and my writing and to see what comes of that combination. I think that could be a really interesting combination.

Now and then, like Rubin, I’ll also read a book that sparks a desire to do something different when I grow up. I’m not sure when I reach the point where I can say I have grown up but it must come along soon, right?

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Business and work Mindsets

“The work … is the real reason we need you to be here, with us.”

I love Seth Godin’s post about work and your job. Here is a preview:

And your job is a great place to hide.

The work, on the other hand, is the thing you do that creates value. This value you create, the thing you do like no one else can do, is the real reason we need you to be here, with us.

It’s always so difficult not to just quote whatever Seth Godin writes but it is worth reading Godin’s post in full: “So busy doing my job, I can’t get any work done”.

Categories
Business and work Writing

School fees for writers

When I changed careers I knew I would have school fees to pay even though I have been writing (and doing a share of content writing) for a long time. The difference was that I was shifting from writing articles about themes that mostly just interested me professionally to a focused content marketing career. It has proven to be a challenging transition.

Writing for myself vs professional writing

When I write for myself, I write to share an idea, an argument or something I find interesting. The result I have in mind is to share something interesting with you and hope you find it interesting too.

Content writing is a little different. On the one hand, I believe strongly in writing as a blogger. What do I mean by that? To me, writing as a blogger means sharing something with your audience in your voice. It is not, as Nathan pointed out recently, “flogging”, it is something real.

When I think about great marketing writing, I think about articles that share something useful in a personal voice, not jargon filled PR language (I am being introduced to PR as a recent addition to my projects and it feels very different).

At the same time, marketing writing has a tangible objective: add to the business’ bottom line. Marketing writing that doesn’t help the business make money in a meaningful and measurable way isn’t particularly effective. With that in mind, my goal has been to learn to write material that converts more effectively and intentionally.

Although my previous body of professional writing continues to draw traffic, I wrote those articles to inform, educate and satisfy my curiosity about the stuff I wrote about. I wasn’t always writing specifically to convert readers into customers. That happened mostly organically because customers were often drawn to my content and reached out to me because they felt I would be able to help them.

Making those school fees count

In my current position, our emphasis is on measurable performance. We focus on producing content that generates leads that our sales team can convert. Writing that sort of content isn’t as easy as it may have seemed to me when I began. I like to think I write fairly well but writing well isn’t enough. The writing has to achieve a tangible result. That is the purpose of my professional role, ultimately.

This is where those school fees come in. “School fees” are those experiences you go through when you learn to write more effectively. Just being a good writer isn’t enough.

You have to learn to adapt your writing for your objectives and that can feel like starting from the beginning. It can feel a lot like those early, bewildering years in first grade, although with stubble and a family depending on you being a quick study.

Making the transition to this approach can be challenging. It isn’t uncommon to write something I feel is particularly insightful and informative only to receive feedback from my boss that it falls short because it doesn’t adequately address a particular set of needs. Sometimes the feedback can be tough because, after all, I write “fairly well”, right?

I think a big source of frustration is that I have an attachment to my writing. How can you not have an attachment to your work when it is an expression of your personality shaped for a specific purpose? That personal investment in your work is what differentiates it from a stereotypical PR publicity piece and gives it meaning in some way.

Writing something that people really resonate with is a great feeling, probably second only to writing something that feels meaningful in the first place. Sometimes those hits are surprises, too. I’ve written a number of articles that I wouldn’t have thought would have been particularly interesting and turned out to be pretty popular.

As with photography, you don’t usually see all the misses in between because they don’t make it to publication. In between all of those is a series of creative crises, intermingled with short growth spurts.

These school fees can really bite at times although they tend to be worth it in the medium term even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Business and work

A resignation letter you don’t want to have to write

Leaving aside the damage this poor guy may have done to his career prospects, this is one heck of a farewell letter which was written as this guy left his employment with JPMorgan Chase. When I read this I can identify with the sentiment to a degree and it really sad that some big companies still cultivate this sort of culture Solimine complains about.

Dear Co-Workers and Managers,

As many of you probably know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Today is my last day.”

For nearly as long as I’ve worked here, I’ve hoped that I might one day leave this company. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of my managers both past and present but with the exception of the wonderful Saroj Hariprashad: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation, ignorance and intolerance for true talent. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake – it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the past seven years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects – an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.

Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work, as stated on my annual review, “meets expectation.” That is the type of praise that sends a man home happy after a 10 hour day, smiling his way through half a bottle of meets expectation scotch with a meets expectation cigar. Thanks Trish!

And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.

But to those few souls with whom I’ve actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To Philip Cress, I will not miss hearing you cry over absolutely nothing while laying blame on me and my coworkers. Your racial comments about Joe Cobbinah were truly offensive and I hope that one day you might gain the strength to apologize to him.

To Brenda Ashby whom is long gone, I hope you find a manager that treats you as poorly as you have treated us. I worked harder for you then any manager in my career and I regret every ounce of it. Watching you take credit for my work was truly demoralizing.

To Sylvia Keenan, you should learn how to keep your mouth shut sweet heart. Bad mouthing the innocent is a negative thing, especially when your talking about someone who knows your disgusting secrets. ; )

To Bob Malvin (Mr. Cronyism Jr), well, I wish you had more of a back bone. You threw me to the wolves with that witch Brenda and I learned all too much from it. I still can’t believe that after following your instructions, I ended up getting written up, wow. Thanks for the experience buddy, lesson learned.

Don Merritt (Mr. Cronyism Sr), I’m happy that you were let go in the same manner that you have handed down to my dedicated coworkers. Hearing you on the phone last year brag about how great bonuses were going to be for you fellas in upper management because all of the lay offs made me nearly vomit. I never expected to see management benefit financially from the suffering of scores of people but then again, with this company’s rooted history in the slave trade it only makes sense.

To all of the executives of this company, Jamie Dimon and such. Despite working through countless managers that practiced unethical behavior, racism, sexism, jealousy and cronyism, I have benefited tremendously by working here and I truly thank you for that. There was once a time where hard work was rewarded and acknowledged, it’s a pity that all of our positive output now falls on deaf ears and passes blind eyes. My advice for you is to place yourself closer to the pulse of this company and enjoy the effort and dedication of us “faceless little people” more. There are many great people that are being over worked and mistreated but yet are still loyal not to those who abuse them but to the greater mission of providing excellent customer support. Find them and embrace them as they will help battle the cancerous plague that is ravishing the moral of this company.

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the lower salary recipient (”because it’s good for the company”) in India or Tampa who will soon be filling my position, it would be to cherish this experience because a job opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.

Meaning: if I had to work here again in this lifetime, I would sooner kill myself.

To those who I have held a great relationship with, I will miss being your co-worker and will cherish our history together. Please don’t bother responding as at this very moment I am most likely in my car doing 85 with the windows down listening to Biggie.

One!

—————-

Peter A. Solimine
338 East 30th St. #1
New York, NY10016
513.405.0788

(Via Splattermail.)