It started with hand-drawn comic books. Most starred my dogs, but the occasional space pirate made an appearance. Although I loved writing and drawing as a kid, as I got older, I found my aptitude for math pulling me towards the technical and pushing me further from the creative path. So in college, I pursued computer science — at first.
However, when it came time to declare a major, I kept thinking of my freshman-year English class. The curriculum included Shakespeare, of course. But we also read graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns and science fiction classics like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. That class changed my perspective on the concept of an exclusively technical or creative path.
I realized that writing is not fundamentally different from solving math or computer problems. Both take a combination of analytical and creative abilities.
People may not think of writing in those terms, but it is the part of the process I like the most — finding the right words and putting them in the right order to convey the intended message to a specific audience.
My first job out of school was writing abstracts and assigning categorization codes to newspaper and magazine articles for what was, at the time, the world’s largest online database. I read local papers and trade journals covering everything from movies to candy manufacturing to metallurgy. (Alas, I have forgotten almost everything I learned about confectionery pH levels or bituminous coal.)
No matter the topic, the most rewarding moments came when I found that illuminating quote or surprising analogy that would strike a chord with the reader.
After dabbling in web design and online editing for a few years, a former colleague brought me onboard the writers group at Electronic Arts, a leading video game company. As managing editor, I wrote or edited more game manuals than anybody in history. (Yes, I did “have” to play most of the games. And yes, you can be jealous.) It was a great combination of creative and technical writing, but the need for external documentation all but disappeared as games began including instruction in the gameflow.
Next, I joined an even larger company — IBM. I wrote blogs, infographics, presentations, you name it, about collaboration and HR/workforce solutions. In addition to presenting me with the challenge of understanding new markets and writing for new customers, this job introduced me to the joys of remote work.
I enjoyed the writing. But I also learned it can be tough to have a meaningful impact in a mammoth company. What I wanted instead was a similar role (writing content aimed not at selling, but at serving customers) only at a smaller company with a coherent vision. I wanted to have a clear picture of what the team was trying to achieve and how my work would contribute to that.
I knew I found a great match when I saw the opening for a senior writer at Aha! and started reading their “Why I Joined” posts. Everybody had a unique story but there were common threads — being attracted to Aha! for its culture of responsiveness and kindness, having great kinship with colleagues, and being passionate about helping companies build great products.
The voices were more sincere and authentic than any I had heard or read from any other company.
That impression carried over throughout my interviews. Every conversation added to my sense that these people understood what they were working towards, believed in it, and genuinely enjoyed the work. Everyone put an emphasis on the team’s responsiveness, customer-centric approach, creative problem-solving, and curiosity.
The thing I love most about this job is getting to put all of those principles to use on a daily basis. I get to work with incredible people, learn new things, write about new topics, and take on new challenges in the exciting and rapidly changing world of technology.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.