Before I left college, I got some very good advice from a very good professor to seek out “jobs for learning.” He suggested an internship with the Student Conservation Association or a similar organization (realizing perhaps, that in this economy such internships are often easier for young college grads to land than regular work), but he also made it very clear that a regular old nine-to-five in the right environment could be a great place to learn. I was fortunate to get a nine-to-five, and even more fortunate that it has indeed turned out to be an excellent job for learning.
This programming business is particularly fun. My job is basically to create a mashup that uses the Google Maps API to show where the company I work for has done surveys and engineering work in the past. (This website has some totally awesome examples of mashups if the concept is unfamiliar to you.)
Programming is a blast because it’s this beautiful blend of back-end precision and organization and front-end design and functionality. It fosters creativity (which is not some latent thing inside each of us just waiting to be unleashed but something that is learned by rote repetition until you finally understand well enough to change the rules and see what happens) like nothing else. Like most people my age I suppose, I’ve been dabbling in HTML code since I was a teenager, but I basically only ever knew enough to force my links to open up in new tabs when WordPress’s “Open link in new window or tab” button wasn’t working.
So this job has meant I’ve had a lot of learning to do. And lest my boss worry that he’s paying me too much, I will say that my undergraduate education—yea, my humanities-based liberal arts education—prepared me perfectly for the kind of problem-solving I do everyday. Meanwhile, I’m picking up all kinds of skills, learning a lot about the art and science of land surveying, and understanding what truly collaborative work can accomplish.
<brag>I love my job.</brag>
<confession>Recognizing how many of my friends are unemployed or underemployed, I feel extremely guilty about this, but that’s another post. </confession>