Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I Have The Best Job

Ever since I have started this blog I have not really talked about my work. I know how search engines work and I know that if I even mention the name of the company that I work for, that my blog my very well show up in searches and that, in a worst case scenario, a coworker might find out about my vacation plans before I'd hand-in my notice. Paranoiac, I know. But better safe than sorry, no?

But I do have a great job, and I am very happy that I have it. At first I wasn't really sure why they'd pick me to do a job that I know close to nothing about, but I thought myself quickly and got to be pretty good at what I do. See, it's not like I took over a specific job from someone who knew everything about their job. I learned the basics and had to do research to figure out how to do the rest. Some people may not be that interested in learning more on their own, or may not be resourceful enough to manage to learn so much on their own. I guess that for some people, this is not the type of job in which they'd be happy, in which they'd do good, or whichever. But for me, this was perfect.

I was hired as an intranet manager for The Australian Outback Collection, a Canadian-based clothing company that does Australian-inspired oilskin clothing. Before working there, I did not know what oilskin - or waxed cotton - even was. I quickly learned that what my job entailed was to ensure that the company's website was always up and running in good conditions, and let the people that do our web hosting and design in there were any problems. I was also to do customer service for customers using our online store or wanting to buy directly from us. Lastly, I was to help in (ie, mostly do and direct) the development of the new section the company wanted to add to their website. Really, my title should have been "internet manager", but I had business cards, and I wasn't about to complain.

Soon I learned that what I knew about doing my job was enough to keep things going, but not enough to make our website great. See, I'm not the kind of person that's really good at accepting mediocre and I always want to make things better or more efficient. I soon realized that certain aspects of the site needed work to be more user-friendly. I also discovered what I think was the biggest problem of all: we were not showing up on search engines, even for searches under our company name. I asked the people who host our site to help us but I was told that I better do it myself, since doing it through them would cost $$$. No one else in the company knew anything about websites and so I was on my own.

I read as much as I could about search engine optimization, meta tags, writing proper copies, how the search engine work, key word saturation, directories and everything related. I spent days tweaking our copy, adding meta and keywords, and submitting our sites to directories and search engines. I did it all myself, without going through companies or falling for pay-per-click advertising like our competition. Getting better ranking doesn't happen over night. But over the months we got to number one for different keyword searches. We were even Google's "I'm feeling lucky" site. I was really proud of myself! I still have not managed to get ourselves on the infamous Open Directory Project, but you can't have it all. And after reading the Corrupt DMOZ Editor blog, I realized that maybe it wasn't a big deal at all. We now get visits to our site for what I would say is too many word combinations. But visits are visits regardless, and potential customers may be people who are not even looking for us.

That was just one example of the type of work that I do at Australian Outback, and of the kind of things I have accomplished. I also developed the new website for American distributors, for which I wrote the copy and worked really closely with the guys at our hosting/design company. I hired a designer and managed the development of our first ever CD-ROM catalog. I am now also the account manager of USA promotional accounts and for the province of Quebec. I have traveled with my boss to the States for tradeshows. And I get to be the photographer - and model sometimes - for our website store.

At Australian Outback, you're pretty much on your own, and you get to do a lot of things by trail and error. The confidence that my boss has in me (and all of us, really) is incredible, and it is very empowering to know that she trusts me and that I can get so many things done on my own. I really got to feel like an invaluable part of the company. I catch myself saying "my website" instead of the company's. You work hard and that proudness that comes from your accomplishments really make you feel like you belong. I will be really sad leaving this company. And I will be even more disappointed if my position is no longer available when I return from my vacation.


I started writing this post because I wanted to talk about my job, but really, I wanted to say that I finally handed-in my notice.

Yesterday my boss talked to me about designing our 2006 spring catalog, wanting to know if I could take pictures and do/help with the design in Quark (at least, she wanted to know how much I could contribute). I can learn a lot of things on my own but Quark is not going to be one of them! That's a big challenge, especially in so little time: the catalog has to be ready for August. I just love how she can offer that kind of opportunity to me, and I would have loved, if I had the time, to at least try my luck at it. Maybe I'll be taking the pictures, who knows!

While talking, our conversation shifted to the September tradeshow in Denver, and she mentioned how she'd like me to go to that one. I lowered my head and I said sheepishly, "September, I can't..." and she looked up and asked right out, "are you quitting on me?"! I said yes, and explained my travel plans, that I'd been wanting to do it for a long time, that I appreciated everything, that I felt bad, that this was a great job. Telling her was easy, even if I felt guilty about it. And you know what? My boss was happy for me. Sad that she had to now hire someone else, sad for her, but happy for me. And you know what? That makes me happy as well.

I have the best job. And the best boss. If only for the next 44 days. (yikes!)


Anonymous mark said...

it is a blessing to have the clarity to be able to hear your heart, and the strength to follow what it says.

when that happens people intuitively respond positively to it, hence your boss's reaction . . .

June 15, 2005 5:13 p.m.  

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