Articles: A Woman in Tech: An Unexpected Journey
The first day at any new job is often a mixture of excitement and anxiety. A new job holds a wealth of possibilities, from feeling useful and learning new things to making more money and having better benefits. You get to meet new people and be in a place that values your skills and opinions enough to pay you for your time, a concept I had nearly forgotten as a self-employed author for the past decade. I became used to (and my soul slowly destroyed by) working (and working and working) with little-to-no appreciation or income. Although my fiction and nonfiction were moderately successful, and there are thousands who read (and still read) my work, thousands of readers are not enough to make a living as a writer. Just Google “royalty statement for a New York Times bestselling author,” and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
After a futile, multi-year attempt to get full-time employment as an English Professor at a community college, I decided to head down a divergent path. Conversations with friends in tech helped me realize I had gained valuable technical skills during my tenure as a filmmaker, author, and professor. I had already started dabbling in programming, but it was really after the White House released their current TechHire campaign, encouraging people (especially women over 40) to fill the rising demand in the tech industry, when I committed to that divergent path. After researching some tech resumes to see what one even looked like, my confidence grew. I had so many skills displayed on these tech resumes already! I had never thought of them as marketable skills, really, as they had all become as natural to me as breathing. Everything from building networks to building machines. Installing hardware and software. Web development using HTML & CSS. Social networking. Content creation. Troubleshooting, and more.
I could do this, I thought, so that’s exactly what I did.
The first job I landed was working with a server analyst team (SAT) at a community college, part time. I learned so much, even though they treated me mostly like a Girl Friday (one of the things often reported by Women in Tech). I absorbed all I could until I saw an ad on Craigslist that was perfect for me and the next logical step forward: Apple Support Technician Wanted. Bonus: it was a few miles from my home, so I could even ride a bike to work in the rain and fully embrace the PDX lifestyle. Better yet, my new boss wanted me to include content writing in my workday along with technical support. His confidence in me helped deepen my own.
I did have valuable skills after all! Imagine that.
Take Two: Tech Support at PowerMax
Both terrified and excited, I came to work on my first day, and my workstation was already set up with my requested dual monitors and trackpad. Then I had a long meeting with my new boss where he told me what he expected and expressed his excitement at what I could bring to the PowerMax team. He was kind, inspiring, frank, and even more loquacious than me (if that’s possible). I met my coworkers, who all seemed very nice. The sales team even cheered when they met “the new tech support,” since they had been covering the position themselves. The warm welcome of the entire team created immediate comfort.
That cozy feeling quickly turned to gasping for air as my supervisors raced through unfamiliar company-based software and procedures. With little context and unclear at where my duties fit, the instruction mixed with overlapping sales conversations resulted in a cacophony of technical information and pricing. Sensory overload. My brain shut down.
I had become so accustomed to silence during work, either alone at my home office or even on the college SAT team, that I found the constant talking both distracting and unnerving. I went home that night fearing I made a horrible mistake, but I took comfort knowing that in any new situation, there would be a period of adjustment.
That’s all this was...a period of adjustment.
My optimism returned after a good dinner, some coveted silence, and a peaceful night’s sleep. The following day was much better. I found a way to preserve my sanity and focus by tuning into Bach, which did wonders alone. Now in a familiar workflow, I dove into training and was once again thrilled and proud of being among the gainfully employed.
I even got to go to a meeting!
Many must be cringing as they read those words. Yes, I am that eccentric individual who prefers rainy, gray days, drinks decaf-nonfat-nowhip mochas (aka “The Why Bother”), and rather enjoys business meetings, the latter mostly because I’m around other people for a change. After working for the past decade in mostly solitude, having company is quite nice.
My boss even gave me kudos for feeling comfortable enough to give my opinions during the meeting. I felt validated and useful. The following qualification that I brought a “female perspective” rather than a “fresh perspective” or an “objective perspective” or any other kind of perspective (consumer, entrepreneurial, professional, etc) speaks to a larger, underlying cultural script women face in the workplace, especially in tech, so I won’t hold it against them.
At least they’re not asking me to clean out and organize their storage cabinets like in my last job.
It’s a step up, indeed.
Join Me on my Techy Journey
Since one of my duties is to create content for the PowerMax blog, you can expect to hear from me every week. As I ramp up and get more comfortable, trained in my position, and clear on my duties, I hope to blog three times a week, so there will be plenty of new content for you to digest.
(Usually not this long, btw. TL;DR. I know. I know.)
I will write articles on my continuing techy journey, give tips and fixes for common technical issues with Apple products (Ask Max), and post helpful tutorials on topics such as creating your own podcast using GarageBand and making your first iPhone app using Xcode.
Please, join me on this techy journey. It’s going to be a wild ride! Besides, I cherish the company.
Christine is a Technical Support Specialist and Content Writer for PowerMax. Follow her articles as she takes you “Behind the Sasquatch: A Look Inside PowerMax,” an inside look at the day-to-day operations from the perspective of a Woman in Tech. She’ll also post great Tech Tips, helping you get the most of your Mac apps as well as write about some common technical issues and how to fix them. Finally, Christine will periodically post some Tutorials that teach readers how to do things like make podcasts and iPhone apps. Find what you’re looking for in the categories on the right.
If you have a tech question or issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine for help.