This post was supposed to be called "Why I want to be a product manager", but after reading it, it had barely anything to do with that. Therefore, I have changed the title to something a little more fitting.
I started my first job at the age of 17. I had just graduated, and I didn't know a thing about how the world worked (I pretty much still don't). I thought I did, I thought my years at school and my many years of reading people's blog posts (this was pre-Medium years), had prepared me for what I was about to face. Boy was I wrong.
My first two weeks at the job were as expected. I got people coffee. I managed the petty cash. I sat there awkwardly and did things I was told to do. It wasn't much fun. I had to be there at 8am, 5 minutes later than that and I would have to endure a 2 hour lecture. I don't mean to diss my boss in anyway, he was a great guy and I learned a lot from him, but that's not what this post is about. Back to the story.
So after a while, my role became more related to business development and lead generation. Something I wasn't, and till today, am not good at. So I sat at meetings, I took notes, I followed up with current clients. All that was okay, untill one faithful day. It was around my second month at the job, and we were in a boring, run of the mill meeting with one of our clients, Car Keys. Everything was going fine, internally I was rolling my eyes at how boring all the ideas were. That's when Michael, one of Car Keys' co-founder's turned to me and said; "What do you think?". I gave him my idea, and thought nothing of the matter. Soon after, everything changed. I was cc'ed into more emails, more people were asking me things, even though I didn't know anything and none of my opinions made sense, shit was getting real.
About a month after that, my job description changed completely. Yes, I was still mostly in meetings all day. However, this time around, I was more of a middle man. I was taking notes, not as "meeting minutes", but more as real fucking notes. I would go from meetings with clients, where they told me what they want, to meetings with designers and developers, where I told them what the client wants.
This may seem like I'm bragging about myself, but here's the facts. I didn't know anything, and if I was actually taking any decisions, everything would have failed. So why was I the one at those meetings? Simply, I spoke good English. The team was made up of 10 people, my boss and the CEO of the company, who was an American/British citizen, and 9 designers & developers, all Indonesian. Our clients? All foreigners. So essentially, the only reason I was in those meetings was because I could understand the point they wanted to make. I did that for about 6 months, and then I resigned, for a multitude of reasons. In those 6 months however, I learned a little bit about HTML, enough to throw in a few sentences like "yeah we can do that" or "technologically speaking, that isn't possible" during the meetings, but that was about it. I got a position at Tech in Asia, a website I was madly in love with, and I went to pursue my career as a technology journalist, a job that at the time I assumed was my dream job. (It had always been my dream to work at The Verge, and I still want to work there, it's just a little different than before)
Fast forward 3 years. I've completed 1.5 years at University, I've learned so much more about technology and myself, and I'm working as a Front-End Developer at one of the coolest agencies in South East Asia. I've built websites and apps and stuff, and I'm so excited, I just want to learn as much as I can, about everything that I can. Which is stupid, but I have a reason.
In order to succeed at what I do, I would have to be really good at one thing. I'd have to be fucking brilliant at CSS and JS to be a decent Senior Front-End Engineer, or I'd have to be ace at PHP or Ruby to be a good Web Architect. But what happens if I want to learn about everything. Well, then I won't be really good at one thing. However, if I have an understanding of all the technologies, I would be able to help people build things by giving them direction and advice. Now, this is me thinking way ahead, because I'm only 20. I'm no where near experienced enough to be a manager, shit, I'd be lucky to get a fucking internship somewhere, but if I work hard enough, I can make this future a reality. Remember how I said it was my dream to work at The Verge, well, I still want to work there, but not as a journalist at The Verge, I want to work at Vox Product. I love writing, I love tech, I want to help build the tech that helps journalists and writers, the tools that let them tell their stories in new ways. Right now, Vox Media's product division is doing things that are years ahead of the competition, and hopefully one day, I'll be able to help them build the future of journalism.