Making a Living
What does a TechnoMom do? In our society, the question "What do you do?" is generally understood to mean "What kind of work do you do for money?" At the moment, my number one job is being a Mommy, and thankfully I'm able to concentrate on that. I do some occasional freelance work, but I'm largely focused on our family and home for now. If you really think I'm absolutely the person for something you need done, I'll be happy to talk to you about it, as long as you understand up front that I will only work remotely so that I can still be home with my daughter. Take a look at my résumé first, though.
I've been a freelance computer consultant since 1990, occasionally full-time and sometimes part-time in addition to whatever else I'm doing. I provide support and training to individuals and small businesses. I help them figure out what hardware and software suits their needs and how best to acquire them. I stopped building hardware years ago, as there's no margin in it any more. I get customers set up with systems, train them in their use, and provide support and repair for the inevitable problems. In recent years I've done some web publishing and helped businesses figure out what they want to accomplish with an internet presence and how to reach their goals in a cost-effective manner. I've provided links to some of my favorite resources for end users elsewhere on this site, so I won't reproduce them here.
I enjoy the flexibility I have when self-employed, but as just about everyone knows it's difficult for independents to get good health insurance and other benefits typically provided by employers under a group plan. And, of course, when you're self-employed you have to be the salesperson and the accountant and all those other things that I really prefer to leave to someone who enjoys such things.
I've done a variety of things when working for someone else. A few years back I was the IT specialist for a software development company, providing hardware and software support to internal staff and making Netware (3.x and 4.x), Windows NT and Citrix servers get along with each other and keeping Lotus Notes running. We also had several sorts of Unix boxes around, largely as test beds for development - I was involved with the BSDI machine that acted as our internet gateway more than the others.
More recently, I spent some time as a lead quality analyst on a software project for major players in the telephone industry. Our software ran on HP-UX servers with Oracle on the back end. We used Segue's SilkTest to automate some of our testing, but since someone had bought the NT version of SilkTest and most of our testing had to be done in Unix, we couldn't use it to its fullest extent.
In the past I've done a lot of internet-related support at MindSpring and another internet-related company, as well as doing software QA and many other things. When working for start-ups, you do whatever needs to be done no matter what your official title might be. I enjoyed being a technical writer at MindSpring, and would like to return to that kind of work some day.
I got into working with computers because years ago I was doing administrative work. I was at various times a secretary, an office manager, a bookkeeper, and administrator of a self-insured health insurance program for a large foreign missions board, among other things. I learned about hardware and software out of self-defense and frustration with dealing with MIS people who were condescending or just too busy to help the admin staff with problems. My coworkers started coming to me with their questions instead of going to the MIS folks, and I found that I really enjoyed helping them get their jobs done. I bought a PC and started telecommuting while pregnant with Katie. Friends and neighbors started asking me if I'd help them set up home offices or start using computers in their small businesses, and my consulting practice was born. Having come in through the back door, so to speak, I'm able to understand what non-technical folks need to accomplish and help them use the technology as appropriate to get there. That background also helps me translate geek-speak into something more accessible to the rest of the world. I do not have any formal technical training.
Our family has a strong work ethic, so my siblings and I were working at home and outside it at a fairly young age. In addition to doing the standard babysitting stuff, I started working in the office of the HVAC company where my dad was a service manager when I was about 12, doing filing and data entry and whatever else needed to be done. When I got old enough, I (very briefly) did the fast-food thing that seems to be a rite of passage for American teenagers, then worked in retail, taught crafts classes, and was a tutor and mother's helper. While in college I worked part-time as a bank teller/customer service representative and worked for another company as an operator doing credit card authorizations and providing long-distance operator services for Sprint. I learned different things at and enjoyed various aspects of everything I did. The result is having about 25 years of experience working in widely varied fields, and I find that experience very valuable in everything I do now.
graphics created by Sam
Chupp and Cynthia Armistead
This file last modified 05/18/06