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?” When I initially wrote this article, my number one job was being Mommy, and thankfully I was able to concentrate on that while my daughter was growing up.

These days I’m a Senior Customer Solutions Engineer for a B2B SaaS company. That involves responding to customer inquiries, internal and external documentation, and manual software testing. Before that, I worked as a technical support engineer for a B2B2C SaaS company in the travel industry from 2018 to 2022. From 2014 to 2018 I worked for Apple as a Senior Technical Advisor, supporting Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Apple Watches. I also played with iTunes frequently, on both Macs and Windows, straightened out iCloud issues, and figured out lots of sticky account security wickets. I am overjoyed to be able to work from home, which keeps me out of the Atlanta traffic.

I do some occasional freelance work, but I’m very happy at work. I’ve been a computer consultant since 1990, occasionally full-time and sometimes part-time, in addition to whatever else I’m doing. I’ve provided support and training to individuals and small businesses. I’ve helped them figure out what hardware and software suit their needs and how best to acquire them. I stopped building hardware years ago, as there’s no margin in it. I get customers set up with systems, train them in their use, and provide support and repair for the inevitable problems. I used to do 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, but at this point, I would refer that work to others.

I enjoyed the flexibility I had when self-employed, and at least Obamacare finally gives small businesses some relief with regard to health insurance. But 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 them.

I’ve done a variety of things when working for someone else. At one point, I was the IT specialist for a software development company, providing hardware and software support to internal staff and making Novell 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 testbeds 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 because someone had purchased 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.

I did a lot of Internet-related support at MindSpring and another ISP 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 someday.

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 IT people who were condescending or just too busy to help the admin staff with problems. My co-workers started coming to me with their questions instead of going to the IT folks, and I found that I really enjoyed helping them get their jobs done.

I bought a PC and started working from home while pregnant in 1990. 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 11, 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 craft 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 and enjoyed aspects of everything I did. The result is that I have many years of experience working in widely varied fields. I find that experience very valuable in everything I do now.

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