What Exactly Do You Do Here?

Today is Day 11 of the 10 Days to a Better Blog Challenge, meaning I am now officially on my own as far as searching for topics. I thought through some options earlier today, but nothing was sparking. Before I had time to start worrying about a new topic, however, I started working on my resume.

Now here’s a topic ripe for exploration. Is there anything worse than having to write your resume? (The answer of course, is yes, there are tons of things worse, but I’m not required to do any of those things at this moment so I’ll just keep writing about resumes if you don’t mind… jerk.)

If you’ve been reading this blog you no doubt have noticed I have little trouble writing about myself, but when it comes to “selling” myself, I lock up. One of the biggest attractions to the development world for me is the ability to just point at apps I’ve built and even blogs I’ve written and let those speak for me. But I’m still a novice, so I still have to think of past jobs and articulate what I did in bullet form making sure I include certain keywords so future employers can discover me.

Now, you may have no problem selling yourself of putting yourself forward this way (you can even read more about yourself here), but a lot of us struggle with this. I definitely have some personal issues to think through when it comes to this blockage (I may need my own Luther when it comes to expressing what I really feel), but I think a lot of it comes from the nature of the work most of us are doing now in the twenty-first century. I won’t be so crass as to equate any white collar job today with slavery or prison, but the reality is that a lot of us are simply not doing work we’re happy with.

Sometimes it’s work we just would rather not be doing or it’s work we’re not proud of in some way. Either way, when I reflect on the majority of jobs I’ve had in the past twenty years, I was doing work I did not want to do. I’ve consoled myself with aphorisms and cliches during this time like, “That’s why they call it ‘work’ and not ‘happy fun time’,” or, “You go to work to earn money to do the things you want to do with your life.” I even truly believe happiness is such a fleeting, ephemeral state of being that pursuing it alone can honestly drive you a little crazy. I’ve lived too much life and been jobless and almost homeless too many times to fully buy into the “follow your bliss” mentality.

But I also believe there is work that each of us were created (or nurtured, or whatever) to do. The sense of satisfaction I get from finishing a blog post or creating a rails app from scratch easily outshines the feeling of accomplishment I’ve gotten from almost any job I’ve ever had. My time at the Iron Yard (Thought I wouldn’t mention it? Wrong!) has not been an exercise in “following my bliss”, though. It’s been one of clawing and fighting and wrestling (sometimes with the technology, often with myself) to acquire a skill that will give me a new life.

Which brings me back to the resume. I’m hoping soon mine will become irrelevant. I’ll have projects that will do the talking for me. But today I have to figure out how to sell myself verbally, and for the first time I’m listing actual marketable skills on my resume instead of just job titles and descriptions, hoping someone else will connect the dots to my value as an employee.

I have a real sense of pride at what I’ve accomplished over the past few months and I can’t wait to start interviewing with companies and teams filled with people who are also proud of what they’ve done and are doing. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll know how to act when Sunday night rolls around and I’m itching to get into the office or connect remotely with my team to see what we can tackle and conquer and even fail miserably at this week.

I hope whatever you’re doing in life fills you with that same sort of hope or joy, even if it’s hanging out with people you love while collecting trash all day. If it’s not, change that! Make the leap, learn some skills, start volunteering. It’s not too late to do something you love and that will love you back, we’ll talk more about that soon.

Have fun. See you tomorrow.