On August 18th 2014 at the age of 48 years old I started a 6 months internship at the head office of Software Company in Coconut Creek. I was so excited that on that day and for almost 2 weeks I couldn’t eat while I was there. Was this my dream job? No, but I saw it as a springboard for anticipated change. As I mentioned in a Sun Sentinel article several months prior I felt like I was stuck in a ‘Call Canter’ box and needed to get out so that I could spread my wings and soar. Telephone Customer Service was like breathing to me, it is automatic, doesn’t take much effort on my part. I monitored my stats and adjusted my behavior to ensure that I qualified for my bonuses every month. Horrible attitude right? Not really. I made sure I offered my customers top notch service as I expect nothing less for myself but I didn’t feel like I was using my talents or brain cells. So when the internship opportunity was offered to me ‘mi glad bag buss’ (Jamaican for I was ecstatic). From the interview process I gathered that they were forward thinking and realized that each member of staff is critical to their success. I also got the impression that they craved feedback which took me back to my American Express (my all-time favorite employer) days when their mantra was ‘feedback is a gift.’ I believe that to this day.
The office is almost always very quiet but I felt welcomed. I got some great advice from a few of the ladies there that serves me well. In tune with my ‘try something new for 2014’ philosophy I decided to ask one of the Vice-Presidents’ to give me a shot at writing a White Paper for him. Bing defines a White Paper as:
“A white paper is an authoritative report or guide helping readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. White papers are used in two main spheres: government and business-to-business marketing. They may be considered as grey literature.”
Investopedia defines it as:
An informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product or service. White papers are sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about or purchase a particular product, service, technology or methodology. White papers are designed to be used as a marketing tool before a sale, and not as a user manual or other technical document developed to provide support to the user after making a purchase.”
These papers are normally written by industry experts especially as the company operates in the niche market of providing cutting-edge software solutions for insurance companies (Carriers, large agencies and large brokers). When he said yes I felt like I’d won the lottery. Ok, ok so that’s a bit extreme considering I was doing it for free but the fact that he had only known me for just over a month and was willing to give me a chance to show my ability/capability meant a lot more than money.
When I was in high school my 4th form (10th grade) my English teacher told mom I was an excellent writer and I could get a 1 in the CXC exam in 4th form but told her not to tell me (I found out years later) out of fear that I would let it get to my head and I would stop working hard. What my teacher didn’t realize was that my love of words and the English language were my life’s blood. When people started to publicly praise my writing skills I was already an adult and they were friends and family. Although I accepted the compliments and felt good, I craved what I considered the unbiased opinion. He was the second person in the company who endorsed my writing skills. The first was my co-worker, Ana. She read one of my blogs and told me she thought I was really good and I should be writing the press releases etc. for the company. She planted a seed. When the paper was mentioned in a meeting I was hoping I would be asked to do it. I wasn’t, but I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. The strange thing was I didn’t even know what the topic was and I was new to the industry. After going on a ‘short gander’ and having a ‘wee natter’ with another co-worker the seed became a shoot bursting from the fertile soil of my brain and I decided to ask if I could give it a shot.
Three weeks later I submitted the first draft. Waiting for the feedback was excruciating as I am that person who wants to know now. I had to engage every fiber of my being to exercise constraint as I kept wanting to burst into his office and force him to read it and tell me what he thought on the spot. “Instead, I lived in a space where I was grateful, excited, happy and felt like I could conquer the world. When the feedback came weeks later I was told the paper was good but based on my lack of industry experience some of the information wasn’t quite right. That’s also when I was told that thought leaders in the industry struggled with the topic as each person had a different opinion of what it was/meant. I decided to work even harder at learning both the insurance and insurance technology industries so that my writing would be authentic and it has paid off. Almost 3 years later I write blogs, press release, case studies, web page content, SEO (search engine optimization) content, read, edit and approve 95% of the content my company shares daily. My job title is now Content Marketing Manager. Why am I sharing this story? To show people that they should never limit themselves, or allow anyone to limit them. Go after what you want regardless of your age as talent will take precedent over age any day. I also want to remind you that if at first you don’t succeed try and try and try again.