I was always good with computers. Even in high school, I mastered Windows 3.1, Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect, and dBase. (I know, telling my age!) I was in a work program my senior year of high school, which offered on-the-job use of these technologies as a part-time administrative assistant. I became the “computer girl.” I went to college for two years, but got wrapped up in wanting to make money in a full-time job. I stayed on with the same company in a full-time role (different location), which lead me into my first help desk role, along with administrative duties (like ordering equipment).
I have since held several other IT positions, from a phone-only help desk position, to on-site support positions, to a technology trainer, and even some litigation technology support at a law firm. I always enjoyed working with the business users to make technology easier for them, or to fix an issue. My “feel good” was the smile at the end of the day and a simple, heart-felt “Thank You”.
Having been end-user focused and also enjoying the Microsoft Office applications (yes, I actually enjoyed and pushing the envelope with them), I went to our Software Development Manager one day and said, “I want to do web stuff but I am not a graphic designer, nor do I want to write code.” He answered that I would still need those skills to understand and have beneficial conversations with the designers and developers and to start taking some classes at the local community college.
After leaving that company and going into litigation technology support, I was desperate to get back into an IT department. (Lit support is a CRAZY world!) I interviewed and was offered a junior developer role in that company’s IT department. They were migrating from a Plumtree portal to Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003. The role was really about being the middle person between the business and the developers and performing some junior development work with SharePoint and other Office products. It wasn’t long before I realized that SharePoint, was the “web stuff” I wanted to do.
Since my first hands-on experience with SharePoint in 2004, and then supporting it in 2005, I have been primarily self-taught. My manager in my first SharePoint role was my mentor (he is now with Microsoft) and he is the real reason I am writing this article. Not only did he hire me as that junior developer, he also encouraged me to co-lead the Richmond SharePoint User Group (which I began co-leading in 2009). I am still a co-leader of the user group, co-organize our SharePoint Saturday Richmond events, and guide our community members. I have also been a speaker at user groups, SharePoint Saturday events, and the SharePoint Best Practices Conference. I also hold several certifications, including MOS and MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010.
Although it may sound like I live and breathe SharePoint, I really don’t. I have a work/life balance. I do attend some SharePoint conferences, but I don’t pack my weekends geeking out all the time. I have other passions such as horseback riding, boating, my kitties, and Corvettes. These conversations will definitely light up my face quickly!
By no means do I call myself an expert. However, I know the right people to ask, the right blog to read, or I have been there and done that (and don’t want to do it again the wrong way!). I have built five SharePoint intranets in five different organizations. I have worked with the business from administrative staff to CEOs to build solutions in SharePoint. I focus on out-of-the-box tools, such as SharePoint Designer, SQL Server Reporting Services, and InfoPath. I create my own training documentation and facilitate my own training.
I’m passionate about what I do. Anyone who has talked to me about SharePoint knows this. I want people to improve their processes and make their jobs easier. I want to hold their hands while they learn. I want to be their support system. I want to build solutions for them. And, I am doing all of this today. This is my full-time job and I love what I do. I am now very fortunate to have found an organization that appreciates what I do for them and supports me in all of my learning and community events.