5 years time

      3 Comments on 5 years time

Where do you want to be in 5 years time? Hands up everyone who has been asked that in an interview at some point (now quick, put your hand back down or your colleagues will start to stare..).

Having been in my current job for just over 3.5 years, I thought it would be interesting to look back at where I started and ahead to where I want to be, and it was at that point I realised I have a problem (well, I have many, but I’m not discussing those here, thank you very much).

The thing is, I’m not entirely sure where I want to be in 5 years time, all I know is that I don’t want to be doing the same job I’m doing today. Which is lucky as, given the continuing impact the internet has on our profession and the software industry in general, and that my company is always willing to embrace new ideas, it’s entirely unlikely that I’ll be doing exactly what I’m doing today, even if I wanted to.

Which begs the question, what WILL I be doing?

I’m not entirely sure but looking at the way a number of discrete jobs are starting to come together, I’d imagine it would be some sort of merge of Technical Writer, Information Architecture, Content Curator, Community Manager and Social Media Advocate all bundled into one, an Information Advocate Content Curation and Interaction Specialist?? (Ugh, I hate job titles).

As we continue to explore and understand how people want to access information, as well as how we can streamline our own production processes, it’s looking more and more like the traditional technical writing role is on the way out. Admittedly that might be a long slow path of evolution, particularly for the heavily regulated industries, but more and more it seems that the expectation of customers is to have access to information online, rather than in printed form. This is not a new trend, and let’s be honest, we are not exactly quick at adopting new ways of working here in the UK, but it’s certainly where I’m looking when I consider my role in the future.

3 thoughts on “5 years time

  1. John Hedtke

    Many years ago (in 1986, to be exact), I was out looking for a job. I’d been a tech writer at Accountants Microsystems, Inc., (who’ve long since vanished from the scene) for a couple years. As a matter of fact, it was my first official job as a technical writer. I’d survived three layoffs at AMI but not the fourth, so I was on the streets. I was interviewing with someone by the name of Susan.

    At one point during the interview, Susan asked the old “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. (I’d never thought much of this question even before this incident.) Well, it’d been quite a while since I’d interviewed and I hadn’t thought about this for some time, so I thought… and I thought… and I thought some more. About 20 seconds had passed and I was still thinking about this very hard and Susan was looking very nervous and finally said hurriedly, “That’s okay; you don’t have to answer that!” and I burst out laughing and said “Actually, Susan, I just realized I have no idea where I’m going to be in five years and I’d like to tell you about it.”

    I said, “Five years ago, I was a programmer and I really loved programming and I wanted to know more about programming and do more with it. If you had told me then that in five years that I would have given up programming forever to become a tech writer, I would’ve thought you were high. And if you told me that I’d give it all up in three years, never to look back, I’d have been sure of it. But that’s exactly what happened. So when you ask me where I’m going to be in five years, I can honestly say that I don’t know, but it’s going to be something bigger and grander and more glorious than I can possibly imagine.”

    Ummmm, so, I didn’t get that job. (Susan didn’t think that not knowing where I was going to be in five years was such a hot flippin’ answer.) But five years later, in June of 1991, I thought about that interview. In the intervening five years, I’d become a freelance writer and had worked for Microsoft and a lot of other clients, I’d written and published a number of magazine articles and three books and was already working on books #4 and #5, I’d managed a writing department for a couple years, I’d won a number of writing awards, and I’d done training and some consulting for companies, and I had helped found and then run a very popular group for freelance writers in the Puget Sound area. Most of this had been great fun and it had certainly been profitable. I’d grown enormously as a writer and a professional, but there’s no way I could have predicted this from where I sat in June of 1986.

    And, as it turned out, I wasn’t able to predict the next five years, either. Or the five after that, or the five after that, or the four since then that bring me up to the present. At this point, I figure if I can accurately predict the next few weeks, I’m doing okay. “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

  2. Karen

    I’m with you on the dislike for job titles. Maybe that is why I have trouble seeing 5 years into the future. I don’t see myself as CEO of Bank of Scotland, for example. 🙂 I do see myself at “communicating”, which is also nicely vague. The post I wrote after reboot11 contains the direction I want to go in: http://www.mardahl.dk/2009/12/08/help-a-non-geek-catch-up/

    I’m concerned about “digital divide”, a phrase some dislike, but which is still handy to explain those who are not into the latest gadget/software or who do not have access to the fanciest technology, if any.

    I may not be at the cutting edge, but I’ll be on the periphery making sure the stragglers aren’t isolated or left behind. 🙂

  3. Kai

    I’ve always thought that a question where you see yourself in the future are best taken in a figurative sense. I think if your answer shows you have plans, ambitions, dreams, and some ideas of how to get there, that’s just fine…

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