I’m not naturally technically inclined. When I started my first job, I didn’t even have an email account. Okay, okay — almost no one did then — but that’s kind of my point.
By the time I got to my second job, most people had email. I had it too but I didn’t use it that much — it didn’t scare me but it seemed like a lot of typing (I’m not a great typist) when I could just pick up the phone or send a memo. (I still like memos, they seem more serious). I only really started to use email a lot when my responsibilities changed and I had to work with a lot of people in different time zones.
About a year into my second job (and this was about 4 years into my decidedly non-technical work life by that point) I was asked to start attending courses to learn about the web — or as we called it then, the World Wide Web — which sounds almost as weird now as telex.
I didn’t want to go. I was quite happy doing my work (writing things mostly) using WordPerfect. I was content. I was in PR after all, why on earth did I need to go and learn about this stuff.
I though it was because I was the youngest in the office and they figured I must know more about this stuff than the others.
This was not true, some of my coworkers were a lot better at the computer stuff than I was. But off I went.
This is not the end of the story, I didn’t immediately (or even quickly) fall in love with HTML and launch into the second phase of my career. Not at all.
In fact, I was not thrilled. I was a writer, damn it, and this stuff was confusing.
Eventually, it started to make sense (HTML was a little like the reveal codes in WordPerfect) and I figured I might as well learn this stuff since I was getting paid to take these courses. Failure was not really an option — this was part of my job so I just resigned myself to keep trying.
Then I had a bit of an epiphany — I looked around in class one day and I was one of the very few PR types learning this stuff.
Up until then most of the stuff out there was still written by the guys in the tech department and it was becoming obvious that we had to start thinking about the web as it was increasingly becoming a communications vehicle.
A-ha…that’s why I was sent here. It wasn’t some bizarre punishment for taking too many smoke breaks, which I didn’t — but perhaps I did something else to annoy the higher ups…
Nope. I didn’t annoy them. Well maybe I did occasionally — I was very young then and now that I’m older, I can see how that could happen. Someone smarter than me knew that we had to get a PR person involved in this stuff. I stopped thinking about the web as a puzzle I had to figure out (or I’d have to look for a new job) and I began looking at it as a communications tool that could be very interesting — much more interesting than a newsletter. I started to devour everything that existed in the web communications area and my job changed to reflect my new role as the web person in the commnications unit. I think this was the plan all along — I just didn’t realize it.
At which point the sky opened and the sun shone down on me…or more truthfully, I figured I probably wouldn’t have any trouble finding jobs in the future. And what’s better than working in an area that you find really interesting.
Of course, the youngsters in the office are now are talking about this new fangled thing called facebook……