I’ve spent the past fifteen+ years working in technology, and while I never intended to work in the industry, I’m grateful that I fell into the profession at a time when falling in was good. It’s a rare profession, in that, you can make it without a degree – or at least you could back when I started, and I suspect you still can if you get the right opportunity at the right time. I got in during the dot com boom, when spelling the name of a particular technology correctly would often get you the job. I started in project management, but eventually felt like I’d be a better project manager if I knew how to program, so I learned how to code, and switched direction. Eventually, I melded the two together and worked my way into management positions. In the early years, anything I did felt exciting, especially compared to working in a restaurant or a factory, which were the two options available to me had I stayed in the Midwest. Occasionally, I got bored, and when that happened, I’d switch jobs and things worked out well over time.
A few years ago, I finally decided to go back to school, even though I’d already made it far enough in my career that I didn’t really need to. It was one of those things I just wanted to do – a Bucket list sort of thing – and so I did. Three years later, and I’m very close to finishing my Master’s degree. In the few years I’ve been in school, I’ve worked freelance a bit and did a six-month stint working for a friend whose start-up got funded. I took another six months to focus on my Master’s, and just over 4 months ago, I joined the workforce as a full-time employee again. I was close enough to the finish line that I figured I could finish my Master’s while working, which has gone fine.
What I didn’t expect was the impact my Master’s program would have on me in terms of really evaluating what I want to do with my career. Lots of people that go through the program I’m in come out changed in the end. I read that a lot before I started, but didn’t really expect it to happen to me. My M.A. will be in Organizational Leadership, and the focus is very much on the sociological and psychological elements of organizations and management. It’s also a very personally focused program, meaning practically every course is designed to encourage the student to really reflect on him or herself, and look for meaning in the things we do. I’m a thinker and I analyze things around me all the time, sometimes too much, but in any case, it was a perfect fit for me.
The problem I face now is in finding the right company to work for. I don’t want to just work in technology to work in technology. I want to be able to be passionate about what I do, and I don’t think that will come without finding a company I can feel passionate about. So, I’m starting again with a short list of companies whose products and services I use and enjoy, whose philosophies are in line with my own. I have no idea whether I will be successful in getting my foot in the door or not, but I have to think that a smart company will realize how valuable it is to have employees that already love their products. Of course, I have to have the skills, too, but that’s not the part I’m worried about. It’s all about getting that first introduction, that first contact, an opportunity to show your stuff. I sent my resume to one of the places I’d really love to work for last night. Their job listing made clear they get hundreds and hundreds of resumes for every position, and they ask people expressing interest to make themselves stand out in the email they send with their resume. Below is the email I sent. If this doesn’t get their attention, I’m not sure what would…