Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What I Do For A Living

Taking a break from the SecondLife articles, politics, and the impact of war on the world, this post today is about the author of Insights. Many readers, especially students and other young people, see my e-mail address, skip the comments and send me a direct e-mail. Unfortunately, the rest of the readers do not get to read the conversation threads that follow so I will condense my answers into this one posting.

Rainier 00047

I grew up in a family that served the military, corporations, and small businesses, all at the same time. Some members of my family still serve in the military. I chose to work overseas for many years in a capacity different than the military but still in a dangerous environment. Generally the work that I performed overseas in those years is called "Disaster Project Management." I helped establish schools, clinics, job training centers, and even orphanages. This work was never easy. For example, when I worked in India I got stuck in the middle of sectarian violence where shootings and other violence occasionally broke out. In Haiti there were two violent revolutions and one rather peaceful revolution while I worked there. In Puerto Rico it was peaceful, until the Independistas became active, then all hell broke loose in areas where I stayed or worked.

Today I go into corporations and carefully study what they are doing. I take hundreds of photographs, copious notes, and study all the relevant government regulations. Every assignment includes a requirement to learn business jargon, special computer software, complex manufacturing processes, and the machinery that performs those processes. I also closely study the way corporations move products, this is called "Logistics."

To do all this effectively I travel all over North America. I used to travel all over the world but those opportunities dried up after 2001. I would gladly go to any corner of the planet to conduct my detailed studies but so far no offers have been made. This is the role of the Business Analyst.

The software developers and programmers work closely with me because they have a difficult time putting complex routines into plain English instructions. I have done exactly that sort of technical-to-plain-English translation work for nearly 20 years.

This kind of work is also called "Business Process Analysis" by the high-priced consultants. Some of this work is classified as "Industrial Photography."

When I finish my research, my clients sit down and study my photographs and observations, along with my detailed reports. After looking at my photographs and reports, business executives always come up with more efficient ways to conduct business and save money. In nearly every case they send me back out to photograph and study new locations. Those new location studies are always compared with the previous research.

When my clients decide how they want to run their businesses I sit down and write training manuals, quick reference guides, and even help with the creation of marketing materials. My style is to include many photographs and diagrams throughout my training materials. This makes it easier for people to learn and it makes it easier for people who do not speak English to learn their jobs. Project managers use my documents to do their job. My training guides translate easily into foreign languages because they are mostly pictures and diagrams. This is the role of the Technical Writer.

In between assignments I still help local people and some overseas project managers overcome the consequences of disasters. These situations may be a personal bankruptcy or other issue. It could also involve the stress and shock of working in a place where there has been a major disaster such as a flood, famine, war, or earthquake. My early training and experience taught me thousands of ways to handle these situations. When most people panic and run the other way I turn and walk into the maelstrom, but I carry the proper tools, stay calm, and think clearly about exactly what to do next. I overcome the stress using knowledge and patience on the job and long-distance running when not on the job.

This is what I do for a living. If you want to do this kind of work, get a college degree first, volunteer for a major relief organization like Doctors Without Borders, Partners In Health, or the Red Cross, then later, get a training or project management job with an international corporation. You will probably end up doing exactly the same work I do today.

Oh, one more thing I almost forgot, apply for a passport, you'll need it!

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