No Country For Silent Professionals


For 16+ years, with minimal formal education beyond high school, my work has come from word of mouth. From my first internship to my latest contract. It has been one long string of former colleagues and friends of friends recommending work, staying in touch and finding projects to work on together. Such as been my career as a programmer thus far.

But one day you wake up and want to venture outside of your circle. Outside of your comfort zone. Only to realize your worldly (internetly?) connections are vacuous. Your education is almost completely informal. Your code is under lock and key running in proprietary conditions.

I hate to use the word introverted. But I never felt the need to share my professional work openly until recently. I was happy just working and learning on my own. Using books, online documentation, blogs, forums, open source, et cetera, as the way to learn but without giving anything back. Possibly a bit selfish but definitely disconnected.

This is the problem of being a silent professional. Flying along under the radar spending your careerquietlyworking away. That day you wake up, consider a move, a change, and see job many descriptions containing: "In lieu of a degree, to github, stackexchange/stackoverlow, blog, linkedin, twitter, etc. What have you contributed?". Maybe it's time to correct this gap in my skills.

It can be hard to venture out when you've never really ventured out. It's not about travelling, though that has helped me in the past. What I mean is putting yourself out there, sharing your writing and work online, out in the wild.

To make sense of the world has always been a natural desire. But to articulate that "sense-making" and share it outside of conversations at the coffee shop is only now entering into my thought process. My intention is to start with blogging and follow it up by posting code that I have squirrelled away over the years. Then turning to social media in a more open and involved way, adding to conversations on Google+, Hackernews, LinkedIn, et cetera. Maybe turning to hobbies and other interests of mine in the near future, namely: athletics, photography, and mathematics.

Why am I doing this now?

First, one of my local (Sackville, New Brunswick) contemporaries just hit a blogging milestone of 10 years. I'm also a fan of zenhabits and there's a great bit about "Why You Should Write Daily", including:

Writing regularly online helps you to build an audience who is interested in what you have to share, and how you can help them. This is good for any business, anyone who is building a career, anyone who loves to socialize with others who are interested in similar things as them.

And a more recent realization is that to improve at something, "a man must come out of his comfort zone". Pick a weakness, something you're not good at, then practice it regularly. Writing openly is not one of my strong points. So I'll start here.

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