Category Archives: Challenges

A Pre-Quarter-Life Crisis

“The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance” – Victor Frankl

Many people who have spoken to me or read some of my previous blog posts know that for more than a year now, I have continuously debated over which career and life path I should be following. I have worried about the choices I have, whether I will select the right options for me, and whether it will work out. I’ve also worried about various other factors that come along with each option, mostly financial issues as well as the opinions of my parents.

Then, in a comment to one of those aforementioned blog posts, Tristan pointed out that I need not worry; I’m just going through what many people call a Quarter-Life Crisis. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a Quarter-Life Crisis is “an emotional crisis in one’s twenties with anxiety and self-doubt after leaving academic life.” My “crisis” may not be as intense or critical as that, but I definitely was spending a lot of time (too much time) wondering what to do next.  I realized pretty quickly that many people in their 20s are going through the same thing.

Since then, I’ve decided that I need to stop worrying and put together a potential plan instead. I have picked up books about the Quarter-Life Crisis (like 20 Something Manifesto by Christine Hassler) and am working on a way to calm myself and figure out a proper, realistic plan.

One step in that process was to meet with some of my mentors. These are people who I may not have officially created a mentorship relationship with but I feel that I can talk to about their experiences and my goals. I will admit that so far they are all people who I worked with during my last internship, but they each have their own stories and opinions.

One mentor spoke to me about the long, rapidly changing career path that she followed to get to where she is now. After graduating with a graphic design degree, she worked for corporations doing graphic design, then freelanced with her own company, then moved back to corporations, then went into event planning, then finally into communications where she is now. Her biggest advice was to be open to anything and to approach everything with an open mind. You never know where you may end up.

The second mentor I met with spoke to me about not giving up on your dreams and on working towards finding the job that you can be passionate about. A Computer Science master and PhD holder, the former manager of a corporate research department, and now an information sciences professor at a university, she seems to have finally found something that she loves to do. She is incredibly happy and passionate about the research that she gets to choose and take on herself. She shares and encourages the mentality that we all have to make the best out of every experience and to make each step on my journey, whether positive or negative, a learning experience. She believes that by doing that, you make success and luck happen. You create your own opportunities.

I’m embracing those words of wisdom. Through all of my co-op placements, I have found what I do and do not like to do. I have started to narrow down the next few steps of my career/life plan. I am consciously taking any negatives from what is going in my life now and using them as lessons to prepare me for the next step.

This includes finding out which field of work I’m more interested in working in. It involves clearing up financial issues and making a set financial plan. It also involves reading books, blogs, and articles that will encourage me and push me to be more optimistic about the next steps in my life.

It’s definitely better than sitting around and feeling down about a future that isn’t even here yet.

One month as a Knowledge Engineering Assistant

It’s been just about a month in this new position and I think I’m doing well. I am still in the process of being trained – a sort of ‘train as you go’ system.

For the most part, my duties are:

  • reviewing, editing and publishing technical e-support documents (as per the company’s style guidelines)
  • undertaking administrative duties for the content management system
  • dealing with customer feedback on documents
  • fixing style violations that come in through an automated style checker

As well, I participate in team meetings in which information management issues come up. I find those challenges interesting to think about and I would like to get more involved in finding solutions for those problems.

The work is interesting. I get a sense of challenge from trying to understand what authors are trying to say, finding missing documents and authors, and evaluating feedback. I am also constantly considering issues of clarity, findability, and those information management problems.

Plus, I enjoy editing work. Editing technical documents is slightly different than other documents because I have to figure out what the author is actually talking about. If I don’t know the product, fix, or tool, then it takes extra long. It’s all a learning experience.

Obviously the work I am doing is quite different from what I did the last time around. Last time I was working on corporate and employee communications – writing, editing and formatting various documents and media, organizing events, etc.  This time, I am able to combine both my communication skills and my interest in computer science.  It is a chance to determine, yet again, what possibilities I have with my previous experience and education.

I’m already thinking about what I will write in my term reports when they come along (and I’m already dreading them).

Another big difference from my last placement is that most of my current team is situated across the United States. The team is considered to be a remote team and we communicate through phone calls, conference calls, instant messenger, e-mails and sometimes we combine phone calls and desktop sharing to work together on projects. I’m not sure if I will ever meet the people I work with every day.

This is definitely a learning experience because I have to learn how to communicate through technology to my team. I will write a separate blog post about the challenges and the benefits of having a remote team and working with technology to collaborate.

Of course, I cannot believe that a month has already passed. I only have three more months to get up to speed, make some good contributions to the team, and show my worth.

I plan to blog about my progress, so stay tuned.