It’s an interesting thing to look back on one’s life. The places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, skills you’ve learned, jobs you’ve loved or loathed, and the experiences that etch the fabric which falls softly around your character, warming it or making it cold.
I can’t specifically say when I think my life started. I guess it started when I was born, but I don’t remember that. As time progresses, I’ve become less concerned with where I’m going because I realize the journey is the important part. That’s not to say that I don’t have an end goal, but how’s the saying go?
It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
So now I think more about chapters. You close one, another one opens. Or maybe my life is more like vignettes or episodes.
I wanted to write this post for a few different reasons.
- Career moves — I’ve made one!
- Mentorship is key to success
- Becoming an expert
As most of you may know, I’ve worked for Oomph for almost two years. Awesome agency, super smart people, quality work, great clients. Quite frankly, Oomph was the best (and most rewarding) career choice I’ve ever made. It poured great buckets of knowledge through my ever absorptive and permeable mind. I’d like to take a quick moment to say ‘thanks’ — it’s been super fun!
But as the tides of tech roll on and the call of career maturation bellows, I’ve taken an offer from an awesome website security company aptly named Sucuri (pronounced Sue—coo—ree, with kind of a rolling rrrr sound; the more widely known pronunciation is Suh—cure—ee), I will be starting next week. Sucuri is distributed (which means I can work wherever there is wifi, hello Costa Rica!), they have incredibly great products, are well-known in the open source technology space, and I’m super excited about meeting and getting to know the rest of the team.
Career moves might be hard sometimes, but they’re important. The level of growth that comes with each new company (or position) gets you that much closer to your end-game. Which you may not even have a clue what that is yet. But the more you learn, the more you know and the more you do, then the more you become.
And in tech, if you’re not growing, you’re stagnant. This is an environment that continually changes, don’t be afraid to change with it.
A wise man once told me that there are two things you take with you when you leave a job. 1). are the skills you’ve learned and 2). are the references you’ve made. References can be as important as skills because connections matter, in any business.
Mentorship is one of those things that kind of happens organically. You get to know your coworkers and other people in the tech space. Sidenote: the tech space can be very intertwined. You’ll continue to see the same people at the same events year after year—so make good impressions.
Because mentorship is vital to success. When you get to know people and you click with someone, they’ll guide you through the sometimes hostile world of business and you’ll learn real actionable items from your mentors. This means everything for your career development as well as helps your personal growth. I’ve been legitimately lucky that I have certain people who are undoubtedly invested in my success. Which I think can be very different in other industries like construction or boiler-room sales. But I have a handful of experienced mentors that I can turn to for sage advice.
It’s nice to be able to call on people who are much more versed and qualified in certain areas to get good answers, vent when I need to, help me make a connection I might not be able to make myself, and bounce ideas and goals off of.
Again, I’m lucky to have a few in my corner who have distinct and divergent areas of expertise. It makes you a little rounder, a little more informed, and enlightens. Seek a mentor, and if you’re already awesome at what you do, then be one for someone else.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jason Pamental who works for Fresh Tilled Soil. He also wrote a book on Responsive Typography and is considered to be a leading expert in web typography. He gives many talks around the world on the subject and leads workshops to help other designers, developers, and strategists understand this niche area of design and technology. Not to add more credentials to his curriculum vitae, but he’s an accomplished author and writes for a number of publications.
When we sat down for lunch at the FTS offices (which are the coolest offices I’ve ever seen, btw!), we talked about expertise in tech and design. I’m going to paraphrase, but Jason’s journey started some 20 years ago (I know, I have a long ways to go!) and he got into typography because a). he liked it and b). there weren’t many people into it at the time he started. Typography had been a little overlooked in the web world.
But he started reading a lot about print typography and hanging out with people in that world soaking in everything he could. After a while he started speaking about it on a small scale. Before long, organizations and institutions were asking him to speak on it on a much larger scale. Of course if you ask Jason, he’ll say he’s still learning! But the important thing is to find something that you’re really into.
So what am I really into in the tech world?
The cool thing is that there’s so much I can do, but I’m at a point now where I have to start narrowing it down. Like the college kid nearing the end of his second year and still hasn’t chosen a major. I’m good at sales, have a proven track record, but I’m not sure if I’ll always want to do it. I like what I did at Oomph, the creative freedom to craft proposals and put presentations together. I think I’m going to like what I do at Sucuri, because when it comes down to it, I like solving peoples’ problems. There’s strategy in that, and it’s challenging. And I think I’d like to learn more about that, the strategy side. There will always be sales in my DNA. I’ve given talks on solutions consulting and more recently I was the guest speaker on the Talking Drupal podcast this week. I’ll post that when it’s available.
I feel I’m on the right path and this decision to leave Oomph (which was not decided lightly) was the right one to make. I’ll keep on climbing up the tech tower and hopefully one day I’ll look back and say “wow—what a view?”