It seems like I’ve gone in circles in my career path, but I’m ok with that. Sometimes the road you travel is just as interesting as the destination.
When I was in elementary school I took my very first computer class. I think I was in 4th grade, maybe 5th. We had new Apple IIe computers at the school, and we had a class that we could take to learn Basic programming. I created a picture of a rainbow, slowly keying in the code to put the pixels in to place, telling it the colors I needed each one to be.
In high school I took Computer Science and Computer Math. We learned Basic, Fortran, Pascal and other things I don’t remember. We programmed games, calculations, and many other things. It was fascinating. Compaq was just starting up “down the road” from my school. The world was changing.
As I was registering for my college courses, my Mom asked me why I didn’t study computers and maybe major in Computer Science. I said “what would I ever do with that?” Instead I picked elementary education, which was a bad fit. Bored and unchallenged, I ended up on probationary status, required to take a semester at a junior college and make at least a 3.0. I did it, and I made a 3.75 – but I didn’t go back and finish my degree.
I got married. I moved to Germany. I got pregnant. I came back to the States. Jason was born. I went to work, first at JCPenney’s working the switchboard, then a doctor’s office, then I went on to work for one of the “big 3” law firms in Houston – one of the top 20 in the nation.
At the law firm, I started as a receptionist, but worked my way up the ranks pretty fast. I started to help out paralegals with various cases, which was absolutely fascinating to me. I eventually moved to Litigation Support, which included using technology to manage cases. Yeah, what would I have ever used that Computer Science degree for? (What irony.) We created and maintained databases, did a lot of data entry, and a huge variety of other things. In 1996, the network guru was setting up a firewall, so he gave me Internet access so I could see when the web was down. The huge amount of knowlege right at my fingertips was amazing. (Faith’s sites were among the early ones I visited) If I ever needed information, I knew I could go online to get it.
Eventually, I learned how to code HTML and created my first web pages. I could see how the Internet could be perfect for sharing data with clients, and eventually I moved in to helping create Extranet sites for clients.
But the money was in the web, and I moved on to the first web design firm that I worked at (which is now out of business.) I was in sales, guiding & helping clients determine the best way to use the Internet to enhance their business. When they laid almost everyone off I moved to the next web design firm. Still in sales, which a part of me will always love – there is a thrill and a rush that you get when you close a big deal or you have a client that is thankful that you helped them find the perfect solution. However, it is stressful, and over time I moved on to be a project manager – I still got to help clients, but the pressure was different.
Over the years in web companies, I had issues with the relaxed atmosphere, the moving targets, the lack of any standard procedures. It is often an unprofessional world, for lack of a better term. Maybe it was the 5 years at the big law firm that spoiled me. I need some structure to be happy.
So when I found myself unemployed again, I had to stop and look at where I was at and where I wanted to go. I knew I would always have issues with the web industry – as much as I love it, the “fly by the seat of your pants” aspect of it would always bother me.
So I went off to look for work back in the legal field. Except I had been gone for 3 years, and people were concerned that that was too long. (Funny, because things don’t change in the legal world like they do in the web world.) I had interviews though, and 2 weeks ago I got a call to come and temp for a month at a small firm in downtown.
As you know, I’ve been there for two weeks. Like riding a bike, it’s all coming back to me. Like not riding a bike for awhile, I’m “out of shape” for it, but reading, research, and asking questions has helped. The people are all really nice, and I feel like I fit in well.
So yesterday I was offered a position as a paralegal, and I said yes. I’ve gone full circle to where I was at a fork in the road in 1995, and I’m happy. I chose one path, but after 7 years I realized I wished I had chosen the other one – so here I am.
Everyone has asked, “What do you do?” Well, I’ve done a huge variety of things. I’ve drafted Notices of Depositions. I’ve prepared exhibits for hearings. I’ve worked on Requests for Disclosure and Requests for Production. I’ve gone through files produced by the opposing side to find employment dates for people. I’ve done a ton of different things and every day is a bit different. I am really enjoying it, and I feel good about the choice I’ve made. I’m glad I had a chance to shift gears. I’m looking forward to being there for the long haul – I think there is a bright future ahead.