Career update

I never intended for this blog to be a series of updates on my career path, but, well, people have asked, so here I am.

In December 2015, I officially started my current role as Associate Librarian at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. The Michener Institute is a post secondary institution specializing in the applied health sciences; students train to become Medical Laboratory Technologists, Respiratory Therapists, Nuclear Medicine Technologists, and more.

It’s a small team in the Learning Resource Centre, which means I have a lot of variety in my work, and it also means we have the ability to make changes to policies and procedures quickly, to figure out what works best for students and faculty. Having Juanita Richardson as my supervisor is a blast, and we’ve hired a talented U of T iSchool grad for the summer: Aurelia Engstrom brings her expertise in User Experience design to create recommendations for our website and for our social media presence. (If you’re looking to hire someone for a UX role, Aurelia is the person for you – but not until she’s finished here, please!)

This year I’m also a co-planner for the OLITA division of the OLA Super Conference. The submissions are in, and it looks like we will have some fantastic sessions at #olasc17! You should go ahead and put February 1-4, 2017 into your calendar, if you haven’t done so already.

Checking in

Where y'at?

This is just a brief post to let everyone know where I’m at. The last time I wrote was just before starting World of Webcraft last summer, so I’ll pick things up from there.

I met a fantastic group of people in the program, and I learned way more about Drupal than I’d ever expected. I would have been happy to stick around at Myplanet, but in the end they decided they weren’t able to hire any of the Webcrafters (and from the looks of things, they won’t be offering the program again).

In September, I received a call from Tim and Vince at The Pixel Shop, where I had worked briefly a few months earlier. They needed a Project Manager, so I started a new contract with them. In many ways, the role was similar to my previous Liaison Librarian roles; it involved working with clients to understand their needs, and then working with the designers and developers to make sure those needs were met. One of my major projects was the redesigned Dufflet website, which was a lot of fun, though it was sometimes frustrating to look at pictures of delicious desserts all day!

My contract ended a couple of weeks ago, so now I’m ready for something new. The possibilities at the intersection of information and technology are endless, so I’m sure I’ll find something challenging and interesting.

My next adventure: World of Webcraft at Myplanet

Next week I’ll be starting my next adventure in coding: the World of Webcraft program at Myplanet. It’s a bit like an internship, but they call it a “hands-on educational program.” I’ll spend 3 days a week for 12 weeks at the Myplanet office, first learning about the tools and processes they use (including Drupal, JavaScript, agile methodologies, and more), and later putting these skills to work by contributing to real life Myplanet projects.

I’ve already been in touch with my 11 classmates via email, and I think they’ll be a fun bunch to work with; the vast majority are alumni of either Bitmaker or HackerYou, so we should all be at a similar point in developing our skills. I’ll be sure to post updates on how things go.

Time flies

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole month, but my contract at The Pixel Shop is over. The principals, Vince and Tim, took the whole team out for frozen yogurt on Friday in honour of my last day, which was fun, but it was sad to say my goodbyes. I managed to learn a lot over the month in terms of what really goes on behind the scenes when it comes to web design and development. The coding skills I brought with me came in handy, but now I have some real world experience as well.

I’m on the lookout for my next challenge – wish me luck (again)!

My awesome new job at The Pixel Shop

I promised I would post updates on my career situation, and I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve started work as a UX Designer / Interface Developer at The Pixel Shop. What exactly does that fancy title mean? Well, I’m going to be taking on a variety of roles on various projects. Some of it will be front end development, but I’ll also be doing some information architecture, usability testing, and more. Update: In the end, I didn’t do any development or usability testing over the course of this one-month contract. The majority of my work involved marking up text into HTML and entering it into a CMS, as well as testing sites by viewing them on various devices and browsers. Other tasks included information architecture, conversion of images among various filetypes, and creation of copy decks for English text that needed to be sent off for translation into French.

I was first introduced to Vince and Tim from The Pixel Shop a few weeks ago, at Hiring Week for Bitmaker’s 5th cohort. Of course, I was a student in cohort 4, but when the following cohort’s Hiring Week rolled around and I still wasn’t employed, the Bitmaker staff invited me to join in. From there, things moved quickly: our initial chat at Bitmaker was on a Wednesday, then they invited me for a follow up at the office the following Monday, they made me an offer the day after that, and I started work that Wednesday.

I’m really enjoying the experience. I work with a great team, on projects for a variety of clients ranging from small non-profits to big corporations. Every day it’s something new, whether I’m updating existing code or coming up with a new structure for a site that’s being completely overhauled, so there’s never a dull moment. Plus, the location is fantastic, and my commute is about 25 minutes by bike.

Life is good!

Why you should check out Startup Weekend Toronto EDU: Library Edition

Originally posted at http://toronto.startupweekend.org/2014/03/07/why-you-should-check-out-startup-weekend-toronto-edu-library-edition/

Are you a librarian, a developer, or a designer? Can you spend the weekend of March 28 – 30 in Toronto? If so, you should absolutely check out Startup Weekend Toronto EDU: Library Edition. Read on to find out why.

First things first: what is SWTOLib all about? Developers may already be familiar with the Startup Weekend concept: people from diverse backgrounds come together and form teams to take innovative ideas from the concept stage to lay the groundwork for startup businesses. If this sounds intimidating, it shouldn’t; you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all working toward the goal of improving libraries through technology. If you’re a librarian, you don’t need any technical experience, and developers and designers don’t need to know much about libraries. You can find all the details on the SWTOLib event page and on Twitter: @SWTOLib, but I’m here to tell you why you should join in. There are a ton of good reasons; here are 5 of the best:

  1. You’ll meet some amazing people. (Aside to librarians: developers aren’t so bad, if you give them a chance; aside to developers: same goes for librarians). You might meet your future business partner, and even if you don’t, the bonds you form here are sure to have a lasting impact on your professional network.
  2. Everyone loves libraries (except, perhaps, the mayor and his brother). Even if you haven’t been to a library in years, you can surely imagine the possibilities when free access to information meets bleeding-edge technology. Help build the future for citizens of the world.
  3. You’ll have the chance to work on cool ideas you might not have the opportunity to try out at work. Even if you work somewhere as awesome as Google, you can’t spend *all* your time doing whatever tickles your fancy, so come try out some wild ideas.
  4. You’ll be part of something massive. Over 45,000 people have participated in Startup Weekend, in countries all around the world. Or, if you’re more into exclusivity, consider that you’ll be among the very first to harness the power of Startup Weekend and aim it at libraries.
  5. No matter how many good ideas you have coming in, you’ll have even more when you’re finished. Even if you don’t actually launch a new business venture, the ideas you’ve worked on will continue to percolate in your mind for the weeks and months following the event, so make sure you connect on LinkedIn (or trade business cards, if you’re old school like that) with all the amazing people you meet, because your project may very well take on a life of its own.

So go sign up now! I’ll be there as a mentor, which means I’ll be floating around and helping groups however I can. I hope to see you there!

On the job hunt

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was researching the web development program at Bitmaker Labs, I learned a lot by reading the blogs of previous students. Unfortunately, many of them stopped blogging when they finished the course, which I found to be terribly frustrating because I wanted to know what they ended up doing with their newly acquired skills.

This is just a quick post to assure you, my dear readers, that I will keep you up to date as to my post-Bitmaker career-relevant activities. At the moment, I’m treating finding a job as a full-time job, which means networking (e.g., meeting people for coffee and attending tech-related social events, which are two things I enjoy doing anyway), checking job boards, and keeping my skills sharp (e.g., through Code School). I’ve also started a personal project I’m not quite ready to announce on here yet. Keep your fingers crossed for me!