A Not-So-Little Pat on the Back

This post is a brag because this is my blog and I’ll brag if I want to. Also, I post plenty of embarrassing or unflattering content about myself, so I don’t think anyone can fault me for publicly praising my accomplishments.

I am now a Senior Technical Writer at LogRhythm. I started less than two years ago having no “technical” technical writing experience, although I have a 16-year career related to controlled writing, editing, and language use in general, including creating IT certification courses. The first six months at this company were really rough for me. About 10 percent of that was my own sour puss attitude at the company I loved shutting down and being completely ungrateful for the amazing opportunity I walked into, but, honestly, 90 percent of it was the massive learning curve. Almost everyone I work with agrees that this is the most complicated product they have ever worked on. Not only was I going from a job in which I had total control over the development of a product that was firmly in my area of expertise to one in which I was in a reactionary position, dependent on the goals and management of others, but I also simply couldn’t understand the product. This was tough. I hate feeling useless and not being able to take initiative. Most jobs I’ve had required a one-month or so learning curve before I could show up to work confident in what I was doing and my ability to handle anything that came my way. This one was every bit of six months and still, 21 months later, plenty of issues come my way that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to start dealing with and that I feel quite intimidated by.

But the best way to get over that helpless feeling is to dive in where possible. For me, that first meant taking a lot of tedious tasks, such as going line by line through a 1,500 page user guide to apply the rules of a style guide I created for our department. In the process of doing so, I learned an awful lot about our main product. Then I requested to move from being the writer for the easiest product to document to working on the hardest one. I also asked to be the writer for a brand new product we were launching. I sat in a lot of meetings feeling totally incompetent because I had no idea what people were talking about for the longest time, but still I sat there, trying to make sense of information and connect the dots wherever possible. I spent any spare time at work reading through company documentation and wikis, watching webinars, and taking Udemy courses to increase my knowledge in skills relevant to my role. I spent some evenings going to MeetUp groups to find people similar to me that I could bounce ideas and problems off. I made a business case to have the company send me to a technical writers conference so I could learn from my peers and get advice on my challenges, and then I brought back ideas to improve the way our department operates internally, the way we provide content to our users, and the way all employees and partners access product information, resulting in me running a company-wide content management project with my boss and ultimately getting promoted.

It feels great to have my hard work recognized. My company has a good culture of recognizing achievement, and when my boss sent the department-wide email out letting people know that I was promoted and highlighting my accomplishments that got me the new role, I received congratulatory emails and handshakes from people I hardly work with, even from several top executives. I was flattered that people took the time. Getting this promotion is just one more reason I know I’m working for a great company and have a fantastic boss who advocates for me. And now that I’ve got quite an extra chunk of change in my pocket every month, drinks are on me this weekend!

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