One Year On.

As i’m writing this it is one year almost to the day since I started my new job as New Media Engineer at the Science Museum. I am  in a Theatre in Brighton  at The Improving Reality Conference  listening, to innovators, writers, researchers  and thinkers  discuss  ideas on what the future will be like, how we will fit into it and where it could go right or wrong. This time last year I couldn’t have imagined that this is where I would be.

Prior my move to the Science Museum I had a mind numbing job on the end of a telephone and computer terminal sorting out what seemed like a never endless stream of empty toner and paper jams for the printers of a big bank.  Daily I could feel my brain turning to mush.  I would deliberately stay awake as late as possible at night so I would be tired during the day,to be a half awake zombie was the only way I face the day. Hourly walks to the toilet or the coffee machine were the only way I could escape the monotony.  

Twitter was the only release valve I had.  It was my place to go to rant and moan and bitch about my job.  A few weeks ago I thought for a laugh I would retweet my old tweets from that time. I downloaded the file,had a read of the tweets from that time and thought Whoaah not even going there, I was a lot more bitchy,ranty and negative  than I remembered.

I had spent the last ten years or so working in some form of technical support from digital measuring systems, early broadband, CCTV systems and eventually printers.  I really liked the idea of working in service and support. Taking something broken, using logical reasoning and understanding of how the equipment or system  works to fix it was something I was good at.  

As someone who is not naturally outgoing or extrovert I recognised early on it was healthy to have a job that gave me a connection to other people on a daily basis or I could easily end up cut off and my not brilliant social skills could wither.

But ultimately every time you have fixed something  the next project you work on will always be another broken widget and most of the time it can be fixed by turning off and back on again,reloading the software or just a good hard hit with a hammer  (And yes I have fixed a computer by hitting it with a hammer, but that is another story).  Its the interesting and unusual faults  that need the working out and the occasional appreciative customer that make the job worthwhile.

Technical support is not glamorous or sexy.  Its picking up the pieces of other people’s mistakes, designers and developers tend not to be interested in a bug in their software when you discover it at 10pm on a Saturday Evening and the system  won’t restart.  Customers don’t admit to testing their emergency generator system when you are wondering why all the power supplies have that strange burnt smell at 6am on a Sunday morning.   After a while this gets very frustrating.

Recently I’ve been kicking myself a lot for not moving to London and making this change  years ago, but i think that is because i’m remembering the negatives more than the positives.  I have to keep reminding myself I have worked with some interesting technology, been interesting places and met some good people.  

Fixing things is something i’m good at, career planning is a definite weakness, despite good intentions  I always seemed to take the wrong turn. The last straw was when talking to a recruitment agency, and being told that I had the skills to be ‘taken to market’ , that made me feel like a piece of meat and I knew then it was time for a big change.

My last job was a two year contract. I could have left earlier but I realised that I would probably just move to some other mundane job for some other big faceless company so I stuck it out, used the time to take stock of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.  

When I first moved to the Science Museum every day I was overwhelmed by the amazing building I was working in,  We have planes hanging from ceilings, a piece of Moon Rock, Cars  fixed to the walls, countless unique and historically significant objects that sit alongside examples of the newest cutting edge technology and  scientific research.

I am still amazed by these things but the real eye opener has been all the wonderful people I have met, both in the Science Museum, other museums  and in and around London.  There are people studying and researching things I didn’t even knew existed, yet alone could be studied and researched.  

If I had come to this conference last year, It would have been too much,too overwhelming, too many ideas new and alien to me. I would have felt a fake and a fraud not deserving to be here.  But now I’ve been here a year and started to  find my niche in this city and with the people around me.  I’m starting to understand where I fit in and what my future will be, its not fully formed yet but things are starting to take shape and i’m liking it.

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