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Warren Shea

My professional career: Past, Recent, Present, and Future

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I (re)joined the corporation that I’m currently employed at in Feb 2007, after about a years worth of intermittent co-op terms with this corporation. From these terms, I was able to (and this is what I believe to be the point of co-op) determine what profession/career I want by determining what profession/career I don’t want.

In my first job, I learned that I wanted to pursue web. In my second job, I confirmed that the web was the right career. In my third job, I learned that I didn’t want a slow job. That term, I had a project that needed to finish within the 4 months I was employed there. I finished it in 2 weeks. And then I was bored. Out of my mind. Note: I had 6 work terms at 3 different places.

I worked as a web designer for about a year and a half with my old team and then my current team. I had been developing with JavaScript and ASP VB Classic, even as a designer. I remember I didn’t think I had the skill to be a developer. That the members of my new team would dwarf my skill because I was coming into a world of developers, as a designer. The opposite occurred. From that point on, I decided to be a developer.

I should note that this was around 2007/2008. I was very much into World of Warcraft at the time. I continued to gradually improve my developer web skills…it was difficult though. I wasn’t learning on my own time (because of WoW) and I wasn’t really learning much at work. I had done more complicated work when I was still a designer, with my old team! I was still fairly shy, I didn’t have the confidence or experience to voice my opinions, good ideas, or concerns.

A couple years went by, basically bringing us to this year. I had continued to improve as a developer as well as socially, in the workplace. When I was younger, I didn’t think I would need soft skills much, as long as I was a strong developer (that was my mindset at the time). I realize now that it’s VERY difficult to get anywhere professionally without soft skills.

Having done the job as a web developer for a couple of years, I began to wonder what else there was for me. Through a difficult time, I learned a very important lesson about myself. I’m ambitious. My attitude towards things is generally laid back. I’m organized and the things I do are usually below my skill level…so I don’t tend to freak out often. I generally have a “come what may” attitude. But when opportunities appeared that I didn’t get, despite feeling they were deserved…well, I realized what was important to me, what my goals were and what I would have to do to achieve them.

The recent section above was about 3-4 months ago. I don’t imagine I’ve changed much within the last few months but the opportunities I didn’t have back then are starting to appear. Unofficially. It’s not as related to development as I’d prefer but it’s related to all the aspects of web. I will be learning a lot, that’s a given. Learning in uncharted territory, possibly building tools and solutions to new concepts and ideas.

I’m not sure if the opportunities that have presented themselves are right for me. Like a child, I was upset when I didn’t have what I wanted and once I got it, I sort of want to toss it away. While I imagine it’s interesting, I don’t know if it’s where I want to be. I still really want to develop, not be a consultant or technical specialist. And the longer I’m in a place where I professionally don’t develop all the time, the longer I am away from UWaterloo and the things I’ve learned, the worse I’ll become as a developer. It’s disappointing and a bit pathetic to say, but that’s what, my side project, and my epic site are for. To do what I want. But is well below my skill level at this point. I still have things to learn in terms of XHTML, CSS2 but the way is currently set up, I’m not learning enough. Even my side project won’t be enough.

I guess that’s what the epic site is all about. A chance to put practical, .NET 3.5/4, HTML5, CSS3, jQuery to use. But if I don’t do this stuff professionally much, it means spending a lot of personal time to learn this stuff. It would be much easier to “kill to birds with one stone”, by that I mean, learn/use this stuff professionally so that my time is used effectively. I’m not saying I won’t touch the above in my job. Out of any role in my department, hell, my entire corporation, the job I’m at now would be the place to use these skills. But I’m not sure if it will be enough as someone who uses this stuff all the time.

I spent so long as a designer, so long playing World of Warcraft. It’s only this year that I feel I’ve really been living up to my potential. And even then, I’m falling short of where I really want to be.

I don’t want to learn .NET 2.0 and 3.5, I don’t want to learn CSS2 better, I don’t want to learn PHP and jQuery. I want to know them already. I want to learn .NET 4.0 and what’s improved over 3.5. I want to learn CSS3 and HTML5. I mean, I can start now but I’m already behind. That’s not an excuse, I’ll continue to learn but I don’t think I’ll ever catch up to where I want to be. I want to be a certified .NET developer. I want to be able to compare to the professional developers I’ve worked with in my career. A couple of them have been simply exceptional and I wonder if it’s possible for me to catch up. I get distracted easily, I lose focus, I’m intelligent but I’ve met smarter, quicker people. I’m distracted with shows, anime, the computer. I can’t seem to work without my computer but I get distracted when I have my computer.

I tend to do average, well, excellent, or exceptional in the professional aspects of my life. Occasionally I screw up but I’d say I’m a strong, above average performer. But the opportunities that have presented themselves scare me. I’m going to be playing the role of technical consultant, project leader, manager. I’ll be attending meetings, learning new technologies, I’ll have to be proactive and study new technologies to stay a step ahead of everyone else. People will be going to me for answers when, in this new role, I don’t know if I’ll have. Now, again, I don’t imagine I’ll do poorly…hopefully I rise up to the challenges and tasks. But I am worried I won’t be able to, especially if my heart isn’t in it. And I’m not sure that it is.

I’m an extremely firm believer that you should enjoy what you’re doing professionally. And I did in the past. But will I in the future? If my heart is really directed towards projects like my EPIC SITE, shouldn’t I be professionally pursuing that as well? I don’t even know. I know I will see where this new path takes me…it’s too early to answer the questions I’m asking. I just know there’s a feeling of uncertainty in front of me and it scares me. Which is a perfectly normal thing.


One Response to “My professional career: Past, Recent, Present, and Future”

  1. Karol says:

    You can do it!

    And you know, just because your heart is in one place and your career is in another it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing! You know how I am with my heart in writing, but if I were to be anything else other than a novelist I would probably dislike it -_- BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t like developing either. It’s not the thing I would prefer to spend all my time with but it’s also fun :) ESPECIALLY when you finally figure out bugs in your code after spending like half a day on it! (Man did I feel accomplished after that, lol)

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