Two years and two months. That’s the longest I’ve held a job since 2007. That came to an end as we closed out 2016.
Being back in the unemployment line means going through the usual duties one must when looking for work: updating the resume, reaching out for references/endorsements, looking through a lot of job postings, and filling in multiple applications with the same information over and over again. It’s a good time!
I’m doing what I can to stay positive. As we begin 2017, it’s not just a new year but it could be a new start for me. I’ve been working professionally for just over 17 years starting out offering help at a computer lab in a community college to working directly with a team at a well-known online company supporting their internal tools. Let’s not forget some of the other things I’ve done in-between, including developing and design web sites as well as setting up and running a live online stream for a charity event. It’s been a crazy 17 years that I’ve had many various experiences.
With so many difference experiences under my belt, I’m at a crossroads. This is my chance to either do what I’ve been doing or venture off into something new.
A majority of my experience has been basic technical support. Someone has a problem with their computer or an application and it was my job to help. This was either in person, over the phone, or email. This still required having not just technical know-how but the understanding of basic troubleshooting skills. While a lot of places have agents read a script or click through a predefined tree of possible answers, my time was spent using my noggin to understand the issue and present the best possible solution.
Eventually, I would work my way up from “did you try turning it off and on again” to being the person to help recommend where to go next for one’s technical needs. For some companies, it was a simple of researching available purchasing options and the best equipment to buy for their needs. Others, it meant researching solutions, creating a plan of action, implementing that plan, and then supporting that solution.
The skills I gained continued to grow as I moved further into my life. Soon, I was being put in charge of a (very) small team as an expert. I was not only the point of contact for these team members but also with those at a client we supported. I was heading up meetings for the team, creating training material, writing/suggesting edits for knowledge base articles.
In 1996, sitting in classroom in high school over the summer, I was introduced to Claris Home Page. Within a year, I was helping design a new web site for my high school using TextEdit and hand-coded HTML.
This start would go on to learning CSS and picking up a little ASP (Active Server Pages), leading to the creation of my first web application. (A timecard application used by a department at a community college.)
Moving forward in web design and development would eventually lead me to learning PHP. I’d eventually discover and work with content management systems (like WordPress) and ecommerce systems (like osCommerce and Magento). The skills picked up here would help me develop specialized custom code to update pricing spreadsheets, automatically sort/resize/display a gallery of images, and even crossposting status updates from closed off social networks to other public networks.
In 2007, it was becoming apparent that online video was the next direction companies would be heading into. It was where I wanted to go next in life as well. With a couple of friends and former coworkers, we started WYSIWYG media in 2008. Sticking with what we knew, we were going start with producing a show that covered general computer how-to’s.
Sadly, within a month of doing a test run, a member of the team passed away unexpectedly.
As the head of the team, I lost the desire to continue, thus ending my pursuit of media production.
But the itch had always been there. As the tools to be able to go online and produce media became more abundant and affordable, online video did take off. I still wanted in. My opportunity to do so wouldn’t occur until 5 years after WYSIWYG media became defunct.
In 2013, I would make the trek 1600 miles away from home to Toronto, Canada to help put together and direct my first ever live streaming production. As someone with very little to no experience, I was ready for the challenge. I was researching equipment, reviewing and setting up software, creating on-screen graphics, and coming up with methods for live-updating on-screen text. For over 24 hours straight, I was setting up equipment, creating scenes in switching software, monitoring audio levels, switching between scenes, updating text on the fly, and tracking chat and social activity. The event was a success (although with a couple minor issues) and one of the best times of my life.
But I never followed up on it. I never went any further with this.
The itch is still there.
Online video has exploded. YouTube and Twitch are huge and so many people putting out hours upon hours of content. I still want to be a part of that.
In 2016, at a party of a wonderful online community, the organizers of the event decided to start live streaming the event. When an opportunity to play camera operator arose, I jumped at the opportunity. Mind you, this was just carrying around and keeping steady a corded web camera around the suite of a hotel but it was still a fun experience for me and I loved every bit of doing that.
The itch had been scratched. I wanted to scratch it more.
And while I have put on a live stream here and there since November, I’m still not where I want to be. I have much to do and a lot to learn. It’s still an avenue I want to head down.
The idea of this post was to help me figure out what I’ve done with my life, what skills I possess, and try to figure out what it is I want to and can do next. When someone asks you what you do, it can be hard to say what exactly in that moment. But when you take the time to sit down and think about it, you can even amaze yourself what it is you know and where all you have been in life.
Reflecting on life is just one half of the puzzle when determining your next path in life. Next is taking everything you know and determining how to package all of that into something that will help you in the next steps of life.
It’s time for me to start putting that package together.