I wasn’t going to write anything for this, but then I thought about how I would probably still read other peoples’ entries, and felt I should probably produce, not just consume :-)
I now run a small business, a technical writing agency (tryfrindle.com) after having been a software engineer for five years out of school. There’s definitely been ups and downs, but overall, it’s been a really positive experience. I went into this having never managed anyone, having never had to deal with payroll and operations, sales and design, and so much of this I’ve now learned on the fly. My favorite part of running the business, I think, is actually the people process/training side — figuring out what skills people have, what skills the market actually needs, and how to bridge that gap/incentivize people to bridge that gap.
When I look back on the last ten years, both personally and professionally, I think I did some things well and some things not as well. On the one hand, I found a way to balance and make progress in both my passions — writing and technology — which is rare and hard. I’m also really proud of all the friends I’ve made and how rich my relationships are. On the other hand, I think I was too risk-averse, especially in the earlier parts of my career, and simultaneously not sufficiently committed. It wasn’t until the last few years that I had a clear, honest view into what I actually liked and disliked, wanted and didn’t want, (vs. what I thought I should want) and thus could make conscious decisions. Before then, I was just stumbling along, pursuing some hidden greedy algorithm.
Even so, I’m not sure I could have done anything differently. Maybe that’s just what it’s like to be in your 20’s — you’re figuring stuff out. I always thought that that was such a shibboleth, but as I turn 30, the truth of it kind of blows me away. Makes me excited for the next ten years!