Wait… I have a blog?

Oh, hai guys! Err, um… hi, blog?

It’s been an egregious four or more months since I’ve posted, which in blog years is probably eons. I got really caught up in work, and the holidays, and then more work and a few family related thing and then… Well. You know how life is.

One of the reasons I’ve been so caught up with work is due to my semi-recent change in job titles. Though I’ve been doing “testing” at work for probably a year now, in December “Quality Assurance” became my job title. And honestly, it feels like the most fitting thing for me. While it can be stressful (especially with the newfound responsibility), it’s also been very rewarding.

To really explain this, I suppose you’d have to have a brief (promise!) understanding of my background and career choices thus far. When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a criminal prosecutor for the state of Illinois when I grew up. I knew I had what it took to make it through law school and work my way to the top. I was intelligent, well spoken (could present evidence in the most convincing of ways, even at age 10), logical, and had a developing but solid ethical code. I wanted to make the world a better place.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school. I had a chemistry teacher that looked exactly like Mario (you know, from Super Mario Bros) who told me that I was one of the best students he had ever taught, and that if I worked my ass off, I could have a career in science. I decided on surgery, specifically cardio-thoracic surgery, and went off to college to declare a major in biochemistry. I was on my way to helping people; instead of locking them up, I’d be keeping them alive.

In December of 2008, upon concluding my freshman year of college, I signed my first student loan and changed my major to education. My family is not rich, and I didn’t exactly have a “college fund” or anything waiting for me. My mom helped by paying as much as she could, but after signing my name to a legally binding contract and having someone give me $12,000 knowing I’d be legally responsible for returning it plus over 10% in interest after I graduated, I had a change of heart. I wanted to be a surgeon for many reasons, but I knew I could not spend more than four years in school. Despite the fact that I was pulling As in my science classes (and the rest of them), I felt like something was missing. I could help people in another way, a more natural way — a way I had been developing for years. I could be a teacher.

I spent the next three and a half years studying elementary subjects as well as how to teach them to younger children – specifically, to middle schoolers. I loved all of my clinical work and my student teaching experience was fantastic. I had every intention of finding a classroom of my own, and helping hundreds if not thousands of kids become proficient and excel in math and science throughout my lifetime. I would be helping people, and using a lot of my natural talent at the same time.

A few weeks before graduation, I began to reconsider going into the classroom. There are so many 20-something and even 30-something year old teachers that are already burned out. That, combined with the political nature of the job, told me that perhaps I had other options to consider. I had been working at WyzAnt since my sophomore year of college, doing part time work in several different fields. To my knowledge, my boss(es) liked me – I mean hey, they kept me around, right? I enjoyed working in an office with other competent adults. I enjoyed not having to worry about a kid puking on me, or about having to schedule and reschedule parent teacher conferences. I liked not having to worry about going on strike over some new legislation or proposed legislation. I liked the idea of performance based raises — they work in the field I’m in. And most of all, I loved the attitude of the company. A bootstrapped company, focusing on education (so I wouldn’t be out of the sphere altogether) to make the world a better place.

I was sold. I accepted a job offer for what I thought was a relatively prestigious amount directly out of college and started full time a mere three weeks after I graduated. My job was to curate educational content the company puts out (for free!) on the internet. After about a year, I got my first raise (yay!) and continued to pick up other tasks as the company needed someone to complete them. This job was in line with my code: it was helping people. Even if the instruction wasn’t directly coming from me, I felt like I was upholding my bargain by making educational content available to the masses.

One of the “tasks” I picked up as it was needed was “testing.” Now, not having every really worked for a company before, I had no idea what would happen when my boss asked me to “take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Doing things the only way I know how, I made him a list of what worked/what didn’t, and then gave my opinion(s) on the product in general. I edited language, gave what little artistic advice I can offer, and spoke from a general user perspective – this makes sense, this doesn’t, and so on. I tested multiple scenarios and made sure to include any unforeseen effects of the new product – how it may change interaction with the rest of the site, and so on. I continued “testing” for a few months, figuring it was not a big deal – just something my boss gave me to break up the monotony. Somewhere in there it went from “testing” to “QA” (which I did, in fact, have to look up), and soon it was the task that took the majority of my time. I began to look forward to days when I had something to test. By September, I told my boss that my workload wasn’t exactly sustainable, and that soon I’d have to choose, and I wanted to continue with QA. It felt good – again, using natural talents – to help others in this way. In December, our company continued to grow and was able to hire someone into my “old” position, so that I could focus my time and efforts on developing a QA routine and some best practices.

I have to say, while I never would have imagined myself here on my graduation day (any of the three thus far), I am so happy with where I am right now. I get to work with an amazing and innovative team of developers. I am learning a ton (and getting ready to hopefully learn a lot more this year!), and I feel like I am valued in the workplace. Not that it’s about the money, but I’m now making a very nice ‘living’ wage, and have been able to be more comfortable the past couple months… enough so that I’m finally able to see an end to my debt (though not for some years) as well as a bigger condo/house in my future.

I’m so glad that I wake up every (okay, most) days, really excited to go to work. I know that somehow, I’m making a difference. And really, that always has been, and always will be, my life’s work.

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~ by ladybugblogger on March 23, 2014.

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