Monday, March 12, 2012

Being deliberate about career choices

Hello!  Long time no talk.

As you may have noticed, I've been taking an extended break from, well, everything, including this blog.  It's been kind of fun to be suspended in time, and get a break from the day to day frenzy of commute - work - commute - hanging out with the kids - sleep - and repeat, punctuated by a flurry of errands and kid entertainment on the weekend.  To paraphrase a saying, when I was at Google, the days were long, but the years flew by.  Taking a breather from all of that has been wonderful.

It's been so precious to sit on the floor and play a game with my kids, and be fully present; not distracted by the latest crisis at work.  And to go out to dinner and a movie with my husband and talk about something other than how we'll juggle this week's busy schedule.  And to have the time to tackle my never-ending to-do list, which is finally starting to diminish.

The word seems to have gotten out that I'm no longer with Google, and I'm getting job offers on a regular basis. Most of the opportunities have been for roles that I've done in the past; tech writing, and leading doc teams.  It would be so easy to fall into another job like that.  And yet, I've resisted, because I want the next step in my career to be different.  If I wanted to do the same thing, I would have stayed at Google.

I put myself through college by cleaning houses and working the cosmetics counter at Walgreens.  I have a healthy appreciation for the luxury of having plentiful food on the table and good health insurance.  So every time I turn down a job opportunity I sort of mentally recoil in horror and ask myself what I'm thinking.

And yet... and yet.  What keeps me going is the sparkle in peoples' eyes when I tell them that I want to help companies do collaborative documentation and support.  The excitement in their voices, when they say "Yes, that's a great idea, and have you considered... "  Their hope, when they say "Wow, my company could really use something like that.  When will you have a solution in place?"

These opportunities are much less tangible than a funded headcount for a documentation manager, or a vetted need for a tech writer.  But they're surrounded by passion and opportunity and excitement, and by the potential of a new way of looking at the world.

No, I don't have all the answers yet.  I don't even have a guarantee that an answer exists, or that I'll be the person to figure it out.  But I do see the value of collaborative documentation, and I want to try to move the industry forward in a way that realizes that value.  I do know that every advancement I make, however little, might drastically change the way companies and customers interact with one another.  So it is that my plan remains to, deliberately, refocus my career towards building collaborative documentation solutions.

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