I wrote last week about the challenge of choosing my own tasks wisely in an environment where I’m given a fair bit of leeway over what I’m working on. My particular worry was whether I should continue with web related tasks, which I found useful in terms of developing hard skills but not quite aligned with my interests. When I completed my task of developing a press page for my company’s website, I was proud of having accomplished something tangible. Nonetheless, I decided to ask for different tasks going forward.
If I’ve learned anything from working in a start-up hub, it’s that almost everyone is looking for a web developer. It’s an in demand skill, and understandably so, given that having a flashy website is a core part of a start-up’s business and marketing strategy. But I decided that pursuing a skill that I don’t enjoy using, however valuable, is not a good strategy for my personal development. The project I got involved in after developing a press page was something quite a bit different, which I found much more enjoyable: contributing to the company blog.
The goal of my first blog post was to explain the technology behind one of our projects for a non-technical audience. This was well up my alley — an important component of the writing I’ve done for my philosophy degree has been to summarize difficult concepts in relatively clear and simple terms. I also had to do plenty of research and reading to make sure I got the details right — again, something I had academic experience with. I genuinely enjoyed this work not only because it meshed well with my skills, however, but because it pertained to my own interests. I’m interested in the ways technology changes how we generate and share information, and the project is a pilot for using blockchain to share peer review information. Having a chance to think about and develop my academic interests was an invaluable experience for me, and in hindsight I’m glad I asked for it.