February 16th, 2011


JobQuest: LEVEL UP!

After the SRI debacle of 2008, I promised myself that I wouldn't count chickens on any future job offers. If something looked promising, I might let some people know, or drop some hints, but nothing that would jinx anything.

Some people say you don't really have the job for sure until you clock in that first day.

I went one further: I wasn't going to believe that I'd really landed the elusive Real Full-Time Job With Benefits until the first paycheck cleared.

The check cleared Tuesday night.
I am now officially employed as a Technical Writer.

... of course, I'm only 10 days into a 90-day trial period, so there's a part of me that thinks that even this is premature.

This was, for the record, extremely fast-tracked. The Monday before Further Confusion (09 JAN 2011), kohai_tiger gave me a heads up about a job listing at his company, in his department. I cleaned up my resume and sent it in.

The Monday of Further Confusion (17 JAN 2011), the last day of the con, my cell phone rang while I was sitting in a panel. I took the call outside, and when I came back, I had an interview slated for Wednesday (19 JAN 2011).

The Tuesday after that (25 JAN 2011), I had my second interview.

My last day at Legends was Friday, 04 FEB 2011.

My first day on the job was Monday the 7th.

Turn-around time from first hearing about the job to starting it: 4 weeks exactly.

I should note that the job boards, the resume shotgun, and all the rest of the knuckle-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, job-hunting-is-your-job legwork aren't what finally landed me the Real Job.

What landed me the job was playing Star Wars D&D twice a month with my friends.

I'm afraid I've learned all the wrong lessons from this.

I love the job.

For those of you wondering what a "Technical Writer" does ... well, so was I, a few weeks ago. Summary: I turn field data into readable, well-organized reports.

The work is interesting, and I'm working with a good team.

During the interview, they were very enthusiastic about my resume and my writing samples. This was the first time in all my time job hunting where interviewers looked at my wide-ranging, eclectic background as an asset. this job can make use of all of my different skill sets—even my time at Legends!

Because of those wide-ranging skills, they're also going to be cross-training me as a field tech as well as a technical writer; at least one person has said "it would be a waste to keep you behind a desk."

One thing I love: after getting tossed into the deep end of the You Figure It Out pool at the last two "Real Jobs" I've had since graduation, and then spending two years in the genial chaos of Legends, I'm in a place where the standing orders are "if you have a question, ask someone"—and the answers generally start with, "let's look it up!"

I'm in heaven.

I made an interesting discovery on my second or third day.

Our company certifies clean rooms, vent hoods, and other lab apparatus for a wide range of companies, mostly in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Our safety-and-technical trainer repeatedly emphasizes during our training sessions that our work insures the cleanliness of locations that make medicine that gets directly injected into the bloodstreams of patients with already-compromised immune systems

Contaminants, especially unsuspected contaminants, could kill people. Lots of people.

And it comes down to us.

Lives are in our hands.

Here's the interesting discovery:

I'm good with that.

I'm a Coast Guard veteran, and my first long-term civilian job after mustering out was pushing hospital patients down to X-Ray and Nuclear Medicine on gurneys. I've had lives in my hands before.

When that clicked during training, it didn't feel like ZOMG PRESSURE. Quite the opposite: I relaxed. Some little ball of tension inside me evaporated.

When I know that lives hinge on the quality of the work I do ... I'm in my comfort zone.

It's odd place to find your comfort zone, I confess.

Maybe it's that, in a job with High Stakes, I don't feel the need to "prove" anything. Simply doing the job and doing it well and right is validation enough.

Maybe it's just that, deep down, I can only really take a job seriously if lives are on the line. "Pfffft. Urgent? You're not bleeding and you're not drowning. Let me tell you about urgent ... ."