I don’t have any management ambitions for my career. My ambitions can be summarized by my favorite quote.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever
– Mahatma Gandhi
I want to continuously improve. Technology changes constantly, and the tech writing industry must keep up in all areas:
- UX design and usability
- Methods of sharing technological information
- Language, such as the trend toward casual, friendly documentation
One of my weakest areas is social media, and I plan to focus on writing Tweets at work.
My Professional Roots
For years I worked as a restaurant manager. The best part of that job was the small business, family-like atmosphere. Often, who you work with can be more important than what you do. Additionally, I felt like I was making a difference. Many of my ideas improved the business. My best suggestion was simply renaming a menu item. We received samples from a supplier for an appetizer item called “Munchers”. We put them on the menu but nobody ordered them. I suggested that we rename them “Cheddar Tots” and described them as “like tator tots with cheddar inside”. Tolly-Ho is now known for those Cheddar Tots. As a manager, I made menu suggestions, organizational improvements, and recommended that we open a convenience store in the restaurant. This provided an additional income stream for the business with very little additional overhead. Throughout my years of working at Tolly-Ho, I wrote training manuals, developed business spreadsheets, and designed the website. (It has since been reduced by a web development company, though my text is still used.) While at Tolly-Ho, I felt like I made a real difference in the business. I was valued and appreciated. Someone listened to my ideas. I was able to help other employees and share my knowledge. It was very fulfilling. But it was too physically demanding. I was ready to use my brain as my primary source of income instead of my body.
My Career Transition
After I got my degree and was employed as a full-time software engineer, I was much happier with my lifestyle. I liked having weekends and holidays off. My salary increased significantly and that gave me greater financial freedom that allowed me to work more towards my future. I made new friends and developed new hobbies. I was mentally challenged. But after I became adept at my job, my work was no longer fulfilling. I was mainly doing code maintenance and upgrading old software, rather than any creative work. I had to look for other creative outlets. But I liked the people, the environment, and having a 9-5 job. (Or in my case a 7-4 job. Lexmark allowed flexible hours.) I liked that the job rarely followed me home. When I managed the restaurant, I worked every weekend and received calls during all hours of the day and night.
After being laid off, I began to question what I wanted from my work. The first question that I asked myself is “What would I do if money was no object?” I answered that question and the answer hasn’t changed since 2012. I have 3 needs when it comes to my work:
- Technical – I like to learn new technologies and skills. I don’t like learning for the sake of learning – I like a purpose. This is what I like about working for an enterprise software company. I enjoy digging into complex software so that I fully understand it from the customer and the developer perspective. I like to solve problems. I like to code, but don’t want to code 40 hours a week. However, without some technical work in my career, I wouldn’t feel complete.
- Creative – I like to create things. I enjoy designing helpful graphics for my work. I like to create phrases and pages that make complicated concepts simple. I do get a large amount of creative fulfillment in my personal life. However, I also need the opportunity to be creative in my career.
- Purposeful – I want to feel like I’m making a difference. I want to solve problems. I want to make lives better. During my unemployment, I used my blog (epiphenie.com) as an outlet to share my knowledge and help other people that have the same problems as me. As a technical writer, I write to help the customer.
It’s my ambition to never stop learning and growing as a person. I’m very happy and fulfilled, but there are things I still want to do and learn. For details, see my bucket list.