Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Am I and What Do I Do?

I rarely talk about work or the company I work for here. It doesn't seem appropriate for a personal blog. However, I have to admit that who I work for and what I do there is part of my identity. Probably a bigger part of my identity than I'm comfortable acknowledging.

Right now I'm in the midst of a career stall.

My company went through a big layoff last September and I truly, truly thought I would be let go. In fact, only two people survived my immediate team of 11, myself and a new hire who was not allowed to be fired since he had been there less than a year. Even my manager was laid off. The reason I was spared was that I had taken a risk in early 2007 to do something completely different from the rest of the team. Isn't that ironic?

Since then, I've plodded along as best I could in my newly chosen career path - internal employee communications. What I've discovered, however, is that communications is not what it seems.

Communications is different to different people. To me, initially, it meant writing articles for newsletters and imparting information to people who needed to know. I was happy to do this. I love learning about new stuff and talking to people about it. I'm generally a nosy person anyway so this fit right in with my personality. But I started to get requests for weird stuff, like "what's our marcomm plan for this project?" and "are you going to create the policy for documentation?" I would get the former from management and the latter from my co-workers. Then people started asking me, "Where are we going to put our information? On SharePoint or on the [enterprise] wiki?" Eeek! What happened to the writing? I'll tell you - everyone began asking me to write all of their mass communications: "Hey, I need you to write an announcement about the product X release and send it to everybody in IT."

David Byrne would say, "And you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?"

It was a bit of an epiphany: communications is no longer just writing and telling. It's marketing. It's content management. It's technology a la Web 2.0. When I tried to explain the situation to my manager, he said, "Well yeah." (My manager, who is a few years younger than me, is attitudinally Gen Y. I on the other hand, flit between an older Gen X and a very young Baby Boomer when the mood suits me.)

When people ask me who I am and what I do, I hesitate. To say I'm in communications seems inadequate and misleading. Yet what else do I call it?

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

I'm glad I do administrative/secretarial type work, its easy to explain. At least in general. But then even that evolves.