Friday, January 15, 2016

Professional Miracles

Today marks the 7th Anniversary of the "Miracle on the Hudson".

This story inspires me every time I think of it.  I want to totally rock my job like Sullenberger rocked his job that day.

There are three takeaways from that day for me.

1) Learn different strategies for problem-solving.  Know when to use them and how to pick the best one.

2) Practice.  Get really good at applying what you've learned so that it becomes automatic when it needs to be.

3) Seek out opportunities to be useful.  If Sullenberger hadn't shown up for work that day, maybe Flight 1549 would have had a different fate.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Story

I grew up with no particular career in mind. I did well in school but I never saw a vision of myself as an adult.  I remember being asked in the second grade and I replied real estate agent (because my parents were) or a teacher (because I like school).

Later on I wanted to be a meteorologist because the tour I went on at OU was cool.

In high school I replied Economist, even though I'd never really had any economics classes.  I did well in math and chemistry. For some reason I never considered math as a career path and if I had just asked the question or been given a nudge in this direction I may have gone down that road. 

I took some chemistry in college but I imagined that thinking about molecular structures and being in a lab all day would be boring. 

Psychology and psychiatry were options, mainly because I'd had my own experience with mental illness that I hadn't quite worked through yet.  Going to medical school scared me, since I felt like I would always be second-guessing myself and berating myself over any mistake and agonizing over each patient 24 hours a day (see my mention of mental illness in previous sentence).

Psychology research seemed fun.  I took Statistics, Experimental Design, Intro to Personality, Abnormal Psych, and worked in a Psych Lab for a year.

I enjoyed making web pages but for some reason didn't consider that I could do that as a full time job and not just as a hobby.  

Political Science seemed fun.  I worked in Washington DC for a summer and got a little jaded with that.

The next summer I worked as an intern for a state-wide housing study.  I enjoyed traveling to small-town Oklahoma and hearing the stories of what was going on there.  There were cities that had a lot of hope and were working to bring businesses there; there were cities that had given up and were just waiting for their old people to die.

I did take lots of Economics, which ended up being my major as I predicted as a clueless high school student.  I ended up with minors in Psychology and Political Science.

I graduated without a clue as to what I wanted to do.  I liked Economic Development but it seemed like it required more of a Sales personality than what I have. I was extremely burned out on school due to my perfectionism.  I was terrified of making the wrong choice for a Masters program so I made no choice.

I moved to Tulsa from Norman to work with one of the companies that was involved with the state-wide housing study I worked on the summer before.  I was a commercial real estate appraiser and market analyst.  It was data-heavy which was fun. There were aspects of real estate appraisal that were not me, however.  I was Not Happy.

So I remembered that I liked web pages and started thinking of that more broadly.  I took some programming classes at TCC in the evenings so that I could use that part of my brain and maybe make an escape plan.

I eventually found my first IT job, which later let me jump to my current position of testing software at StatSoft/Dell.  StatSoft was acquired by Dell in 2014.  I call it my dream job.  It combines my natural OCD + analytical personality tendencies with the Math I loved but didn't know I could do anything with with the Statistics I loved but didn't know I could do anything with with the computer programming I had failed to consider as a possibility.

As I plan for the future growth of my career, I try to keep aware of the latest trends in each of these fields.  I know a little something about many things but deepen my understanding as much as I need to depending on the project I'm working on.

I *still* don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but I'm beyond happy right now with a career that lets me get immersed in both the technology and the subject matter.