Confessions of a Human Hat Rack

Video Editor. Live Show Director. Web Editor. Technical Director. Photographer. DJ. System Administrator. Support Engineer. JavaScript Developer.

All of these are hats I’ve worn professionally at some point in the last 10 years, yet none of them are fully broken-in.hat-rack

Who exactly am I?

In December, I moved to Portland, Ore. to be closer to family. I was confident when making the decision to move that, with all of this experience, it would be relatively straightforward to continue my career as a… everything.

That’s the problem I face today. Who exactly am I? Even I am having trouble coming up with a definitive answer to that question, so surely potential employers are just as confused.

This wasn’t even a question when I was at CNN. Sure, I had my job description, but by the time I left, I was already established in multiple circles where the specific skills I had acquired fit naturally because they were cultivated within those circles.

Which hat should I wear now? They all fit and are equally worn, but each comes with its own set of challenges.

Unappealing market potential

This applies to all of the media-related hats. Competition for technical operations jobs seems to be higher than ever thanks to control room automation. (This is why I abandoned the TechOps track at CNN in favor of Satellites.) Gunning for any of these jobs at this point in my career would be doable but tough and likely wouldn’t pay well by comparison.

Insufficient experience

I take pride in the fact that I advanced from Tier I to Tier II Broadcast IT support in less than a year, but that experience was specialized in broadcast hardware and software. We didn’t support Microsoft Office, for example, a software suite so universal that my lack of support experience with it feels like an instant deal-breaker for any general IT support role.

Under-qualification

As much as I want to be a JavaScript Developer by title, most/all employers require a deep understanding of computer science concepts that I simply haven’t had enough exposure to. Algorithms are a prime example – good luck asking me to name or implement a shortest path function. I know one language and a few frameworks well enough to build some tools, but that’s it.

Where do I go from here?

All of the work I’ve done in the past decade has not been in vain, but it hasn’t been enough to get me a formal interview because it’s over-diversified.

To put it another way, I feel like I’ve just graduated from CCNN (College of CNN) and I’m back to figuring out exactly how to break in to the job market for the first time.

Part of me wishes I could just go back to CNN and pick up where I left off, but I’m not going to abandon my family for a gig. My next job has to be in Portland, and it has to be a job that I qualify for, not just a job I think I can do.

First step: Work with a career coach. Your feedback is just as welcome!

About The Author

Kyle Anderson
I'm a media and IT professional and JavaScript developer who worked most recently as an Associate Broadcast IT Engineer (Tier II) for CNN in Atlanta. One of my life-long goals is to help bridge data divides - missing connections between software systems and data stores - promoting inter-system communication and automation. Many of the projects described here reflect this goal in some way or another.