Content Writing interview at an SAAS this week and my plans for improvement

Picture of a road from street level in a artic location with mountains in the distance

This Monday I interviewed for a content-writer position at an up-and-coming SAAS company. 

I spent four days researching the company website and Googling the hell out of the team members. I soon discovered my interviewer was responsible for a local viral post [insert onslaught of terrified excitement].

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https://unsplash.com/@punttim

During the four days leading up to the interview, I researched the site, created a corpus of their highest ranking keywords, and started writing non-stop with only breaks for food, mate or for those brief moments—sleeping.

My wife got jealous a couple of times, so I had to make time to give her a hug, now-and-then again.

two people sitting across from each other on a bench; one is writing the other has a tablet in front of them but hands appear to be unsure of what to do
https://unsplash.com/@alvaroserrano

Over the last couple days of writing, I contacted a few writer colleagues from my publishing job and a writer friend that I knew from undergrad. My friend didn’t comment much on problem areas, but the time he took to listen to me talk out my writing process was a great calmer and confidence booster. 

And after all the work, the writing sample felt good.

The interview went well: when I needed time to think about a hypothetical situation, I took my time and responded. In some cases he interjected with agreements or supplemented ideas that they had put into practice.

Everything was good, everything EXCEPT my lack of applicable experience with SEO.

Picture of a cellphone with Google open and 'Analytics' typed into the SERP
https://unsplash.com/@edhoradic

I emphasized my enthusiasm to learn and write for a new genre, which seemed to leave a somewhat positive impression. But, as an experienced recruiter, you want someone to fill the role that can take ownership of their role ASAP. 

Otherwise, a new candidate ends up becoming a liability.

I don’t want to be that ‘guy,’ so regardless of whether I get the position or not,  I am back at the drawing table–planning out my study and writing plans. So far, it’s a checkerboard of genre-writing research and full-on writing days.

The goal is to write one piece each week with the goal of having showcase samples ready for my website in five weeks’ time.

 

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Inspiration that keeps on inspiring Rev

picture of a blank book and a pen

23, insecure and eager, sitting in a mid-to-back desk, among my fellow nobody collective in the walled-in confines–I awaited the impending demands of my new Non-Fiction/Journalism professor. From the moment he opened his mouth, I found myself in awe of his deep-thunderous baritone voice, not unlike South Park’s Chef. “Raise your hand if you are a writer, words crisp, hanging in the air like thick willowy branches rooting into every corner of the classroom–eliminating any chance of escape.  None of us–regardless of specialization: creative writing, journalism, or analytical writing–dare to raise a finger or even dare to fucking look him in the eyes. Hell, I was trying to drill a hole through my desk with my laser, don’t look at me, eyes.

With his loud booming, ‘Ye shall I walk through the valley of death,’ voice, my psyche loathe a verbal castration for my gross incompetence.

Our class was silent enough to hear a fly shit, but that wasn’t going to happen because no one–absolutely NO ONE–wanted to drag attention to himself. “Are you a writer,” the silence was butter as he cut it right in half, doubling the intense deafening roar. Unaware of my own actions, I found my eyes looking at his (much to my own chagrin). His eyes were all Eye of Sauron roving the room–That staring! That Perpetual Staring!

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Words rolled through the classroom again as he said the most inconceivable notion, “You are all writers!”

If he wanted to see if we would shit ourselves in the middle of the class, he was on the right path. He was damned well going to get a payload for his hard work. Was this a sick haze to ease us into complacency and then the next moment was he planning to rip into us like sweet caviar? Confusion, happiness, fear, questions about how many steps to the door: all these thoughts rushing through my mind…

“You all write things, and you all care about the content, or else you wouldn’t be here. You are all writers and until you accept that and claim that ownership of your identity, you will never be the best writer that you can be.”

Trembling subsiding slowly, I felt unimaginable happiness as the endorphins kicked in. We went from a horror film to silent film back to horror film to the Rocky Horror Picture party scene as Meatloaf walks in.

This memory plays so vividly to me, today, as I try once again to become a ‘writer.’

A Venture into the Project Planning phase


When you are in the process of job hunting every day is a different animal. There are some that seem to make sense and everything is on track (and then there are the others). Based on advice from a theMuse article: 6 Free Online Courses That’ll Teach You the Same Skills You’d Learn in Business School I decided to start a couple of the suggested online courses: Intro to Project Management and Intro to Marketing.

Project Management seems like a no-brainer to me at the moment. I’m constantly trying to arrange my schedule in order not to feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks that I set out for myself. Just to give you an idea of what I mean by that–I literally alphabetically categorized my goals for the day up to H (and I hadn’t even gotten past my writing goals).

Based on what I’ve gained in my vast hour of experience in the Project Management class, I’m currently in the initialization phase. They let you use this nifty guide called the Canvas framework:

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I’m hoping to manage my writing, job search, social media, language learning and (that is if I can find enough time) my website. I justified buying a site to my wife before we got married, butat this moment only has a construction image (worthy of a circa 1995 Geocities account).

A Change of Pace

I took this blog as a project to develop skills for the business world more-so than for personal development. I think there’s nothing wrong with that, but in doing so I didn’t provide myself with much of an outlet to alleviate any of the stress that I accrued from working, studying and rinse-repeat cycles weeks-in-and-weeks-out. I’m rather hard on myself in terms of studying when I set my mind to it. I’m well aware of that. I spent 9 months studying Chinese daily for 40+ hours of writing in a coffee shop each week and that’s not counting the 10 hours a week that I met with a one-on-one instructor to teach me in a study room setting.

Some people after reading that will skip to the point of asking, “Well what was the result?” Or perhaps will think, “Wow, I wish I could do that! You must be really fluent then!” It’s unfortunate, though, because while movies work in montages like Rocky or Family Guy/Simpson stylized buildups, life doesn’t work that way. It’s a sacrifice and to be honest it’s really unfair to the self. I am not really proud about that decision to study like that. I think there’s much more that I could have done in that time then trying to cheapen the learning experience.

To the non-linguistic enthusiast, my last paragraph might seem paradoxical at best, and perhaps idiotic at worst, or perhaps you can come up with something worse… I’ll leave that to your imagination if you so choose. But what I want to say is that language is about communication. If it’s not being used as such, it defeats the purpose. Life, in very much the same vein, it meant to be lived, not spent thinking about how you will do it after you’ve crammed for nearly a year on end. There’s no reason that you can’t study hard and allow for a little bit of time for the other things that are also as important.

If you are still with me on this, then you might be aware of where I’m getting with this. I have made mistakes about how much I soak my time into my endeavors to the exclusion of everything else. I, at times, have prided myself on that, thinking it was a luxury of enthusiasts to become so focused; while balanced it is an exceptionally useful determinism, but defeats the purpose of personal growth when done to excess.

 

A self report on my experience using W3Cx’s HTML program on EDx.

Studying HTML on EDx has put me in an interesting position.

It’s one of surprise…

In university life, I took classes on CALL and, to be honest, I never found it to anything more than decorative fluff lackluster in content. There were CD ROMS, click through procedural pictures, archaic datasets, and email support

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Learning online with EDx

Initially, for me, studying HTML on EDx was just to be a quick refresher for my HTML, but that stopped the moment that I found resources and attention on par with what you’d expect from a well structured university class: with TA David Neil, or =dn as he refers to himself,  often responding within a day or two with wit and clarity. The inclusive sharing of industry insight and the excellent resources make this series a true breathe of fresh air for the realm of CALL.

This is a class that was designed and is maintained as a cooperation between Intel and W3C to help HTML curious webizens. I’m amazed with how well it works. If you are looking to learn HTML, you don’t need to look anywhere else, but don’t expect to breeze through it. Each week of material, they recommend six-hours of study time. I find, in my own study time, that it will take more than that if you read through all the extra literature and you take the coding activity assignments seriously. As you can already imagine learning any language, computer or otherwise, easy doesn’t really translate; but with a TA like =dn, you might actually enjoy the work, as I do.

The courses are part of the XSeries certification program. I won’t go into detail on that, but on a general level what it means is that it’s a specially-structured highly dense learning curriculum with the purpose of preparing students for application. Each XSeries program requires you to run through the matrix of classes to get full certification. The HTML program is no different. It is composed of three classes:

If you decide to give it a shot, give me a shout. I would love to hear how you take to the program and would be more than happy to work on a collaborative project.

Off the path of social coding into the venue of writing and the interpersonalization of our writer’s Id

Just now, well a moment ago, I was enjoying a well-thought out post on K E Garland‘s page and one of her discussions with tunisiajolyn84 really struck me. Forgive me if reposting it here is not cool. If so just let me know and I’ll take it down. 

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I want to say thank you for the salient points and I’d humbly like to add a quote, albeit a long one, from one of my favorite writing coaches, John Flowerdew:

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My words can’t do his written work justice. I just want to say that it resonates with me–this idea that inside each and every one of us exists the Writer’s self, which I like to call the Writer’s Id. It is often neglected and downtrodden, so much so that people dread their written word being read more than they do fear being hit by a car. The profundity of something so off-kilter in a species of animal that prides itself, first and foremost, on its ability to communicate.

It’s like 50 shades of Writer’s Block without the sexuality. It’s domineering with a threat of violence at any predilection that Writer’s Id appears to be improper or unlikely to win the recognition of the READER. But how… without giving it patience; without giving it Love.

To Love mustn’t we give in to loving ourselves before truly and fully feeling that for others? Can it not be said for our Writer’s Id as well? How can Writer’s Id ever truly love and be loved by the muses without first giving in to that lovers embrace of the self and allowing all the messy bits to come out like tears that burst out at the seams at the first good cathartic sobbing. Isn’t it worth it?

Full day of coding ergo the coding

Literally spent the whole day researching social media. Spent a lot of that time looking at other’s Twitter feeds and blogs to understand a little bit more about social media and of course about coding.

There were some surprises and also even came across a few writers that write quite impressively. One such writer, Sacha Black, wrote a post on how to make characters memorable, without needing to hit the reader over the head. It’s quite an interesting read and the writer seems to be quite an interesting person. Definitely something to check out if you like good writerly advice written by a qualified writer.

On the coding vain I got some good info from talking to a few people on Twitter that code professionally, are still learning, and from a bootcamp academy and a online learning site. Bootcamps are not really something I can afford: time or moneywise. It was still a nice dream for all of 20 minutes while watching the intro video on Fullstack Academy’s website. The $16,000 price tag was a bit unsettling and also the idea of quitting my job for 10-14 weeks are probably not on the TO-DO list for maintaining a healthy relationship…

I was really surprised though by their free coding resources after filling in my email.

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You can find it at the bottom of their website.

They didn’t scrimp on any of it. Apparently it’s exactly what they give to preboot camp students, so if you have the dedication it’s a great path to getting on the right track. I think I might be busy for 10 weeks just trying to click all of them. I’m encouraged. Just will have to keep the caffeination pump on tap. I might be studying independently, but with the role of social media I look forward to getting to a point of being able to work remotely with other coders. Still a while off from that, but it makes me excited to get to that level.

Social media really is social. I’ve been learning that in the last two days. I know that sounds weird and oxymoronic, but I just never really realized how much of a community it really is here when you put the time into it. So thank you fellow bloggers and tweeters for your comments likes and follows. If I haven’t checked out your sites or we haven’t talked, give me a shout. I’m looking forward to getting to know as many of you as I can.

Social J