The Power of Doing The Job You Want, Not Waiting For It



I often don’t find the time to write about my work experiences outside of web design. Like many aspiring freelance web designers I have a day job which is very different than what I generally use for.  For no other reason than, it is hard to write about confidential initiatives that are not finalized.  To give a brief background, I spend most of my time working as a Program Manager, by way of a Technical Support Engineer, in the remote technical customer services division of EMC Corp.

I didn’t get into this Program Manager role by waiting around for someone to recognize my skills and offer me a position.  It rarely works that way.  The core of what I am about to discuss stems all the way back  to when I was 13 and got my first job working for parking at Foxboro Stadium (now Gillette Stadium, yes where the Patriots play).  I started out as the low man on the totem pole and was told, do this, go here and wave the flag.  I did this for a little while but, the days dragged on and I quickly began to find what I was doing very boring.  Here I am a teenager surrounded by people partying and I was bored. In order to make my time work for me, I started slowly but surely, acting as a leader in the parking lots I worked in. Within a very short period of time, I was among the youngest employees that was a lot supervisor in some of the busiest locations at Foxboro/Gillette Stadium.

It is this work ethic, that has allowed me in just about any job I have ever worked in, to do the job I want, not only the job I am told to.  Of course, you can’t just do whatever you want because someone would probably complain that you are not doing your job; however, you can do a variation of your job which satisfies the requirements of why you were hired and allows you to do something that helps develop the skill-set you aspire to do with the added benefit of discovering what your true passion is.


What should you do?

Ask, ask, and ask again to be involved in tasks, projects and initiatives where ever you can. Keep asking and throw yourself into anything you can get your hands on, especially early on in your career.  What this will do is force you to live outside your comfort zone and you will quickly see that you can do it; Then, it will suddenly become less of an issue with confidence because you will look back and say, “that wasn’t so bad!”

Sure, you will probably from time to time work on projects and initiatives that are not that thrilling and they may not yield much benefit but, keep you head high and push right through it.  On the other side, you will learn some valuable information like, what you don’t want to do with your career, how to avoid it, who does what in your company, gain a larger personal network, etc.

Some jobs and companies may not have a whole lot of opportunities to take on additional tasks.  The mere fact that you even ask often shows your interest in going above and beyond and instantly allows you to gain credibility and puts you in the minds of your seniors / managers.  When the next time an opportunity actually does come up, you will be at the top of the list of people to go to.


Building a resume by doing it

When I first started finding my interests in technology, I didn’t know a lot of people in the field and getting my name out there wasn’t easy.  I found the only way to learn something was by doing it.  For the longest time, I struggled with the very first step.  Where do you start?  I used to read and read and read and never found a good answer to that question until, it finally clicked.  Start anywhere!

I know it seems too easy and you can often question it, “Start anywhere? Where is anywhere?” but, it really doesn’t matter where you start.  Sure, some starting points get you on the right track faster but, you will often never know until you do it and find out what the best path was, when you look back on it.  Even if you start off on the wrong foot, you will learn it is the wrong foot and that will often narrow down your paths to take from there, making your next move that much more clear.

Let’s take a look at my web design work for instance.  Starting out, I didn’t know anyone who did web design.  With no connections and no clients who will trust your work because you don’t have any experience? So, I just started coding.  I started with a personal blog, asked around at my college for extra work, got the option to work on a section of the schools website, then a client,, and more and more clients have been coming.  Why did this happen?  Because I asked for more and just started somewhere, anywhere.  I am certain that some of the work I do now will be less meaningful in the future and I will have to move on from it but, that doesn’t matter.  Optimizing your time, comes with time.  Meaning, in due time you will learn what is and isn’t working for you.


Why should you listen to me?

You shouldn’t.  You should be getting out there and making it happen.  Don’t be afraid to try new things because  whether it is positive or negative, you can always learn something about yourself and about others from the experience.  All I can say is, I did this and went form being the shy, low man on the totem pole with little confidence in myself to working directly a global senior director of a very well known corporation and leading / participating in many global initiatives.  Best of all, I learn everyday what many of my strengths and weaknesses are.  I learn what jobs and opportunities are right for me.  I also know that in any position I’ve had, I was often looked at as one of the more counted on, “go to” employees.

Good luck! Remember, always use your experiences as an experiment and learn from your successes and failures. EVERYONE FAILS, it is truly always an option.

Site Launched! –

Over the past few months I have been slowly but, surely been chipping away at a new idea I had. I wanted to create a website that could motivate and energize people purely based on the content provided on the website. I thought that this could be a catchy concept which, was intuitive enough that anyone could pickup and understand easily, without much thought; yet, it was unique enough so it is not just a copy of everything else on the web.

What is it about?

In order to intuitively express this concept I decided to implement different degrees of energy based on familiar concepts. I broke the site out into 3 degrees of energy: Tea, Coffee, and Energy (drinks). The tea section, is the lower of the energy intakes. It will provide content that is more intellectually stimulating or laid back mental stimulation. The energy (drink) section, is the highest caffeine intake. This section will contain action sports, some MMA fighting, etc.; content, that will be “balls to the wall” crazy. Then, you have coffee. This is a middle of the road energy intake. Here, I will have content that isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating or high impact energetic content. Instead, you will find funny, shocking, and just randomly cool, stimulating content. Additionally, I intend to incorporate news about the various beverages; so, you can stay on top of the latest news and concepts surrounding your favorite caffeinated beverage.

The Design

My aim at the design of this site is to be welcoming, innovative, and stimulating on its own. The header is busy because I feel it really expresses all the aspects of the site in one illustration. As previously mentioned, there are three sections to this site. Energy, Coffee, and Tea. This way, a user can filter the content on the site by a particular energy level and get though their afternoon crash, while sipping on their favorite caffeinated beverage. The comments engine is built using the Disqus comment system (which, you can read about here). When developing, I thought for the future. I applied a lot of CSS3 design concepts. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you use a modern browser. The latest Firefox, Chrome, or Safari are preferred. IE6 will not be supported. Have a look at Redesign: My WordPress Journey for my reasoning behind dropping IE6 support and coding with CSS3 concepts.

What are you waiting for?

… Go on over to and check it out! All feedback is welcome, and you can use my Contact Form and let me know any questions, concerns or comment you have. All feedback is more than welcome. Finally, don’t be afraid to get involved. I would love to generate a community who helps steer this site. So, go on and comment, share stories and, even submit them to me and I might just use it! 😀

Redesign: My WordPress Journey

As noted before, when I created this site I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take it. My decision is to make primarily a Design portfolio showcasing my work with a blog component. It is not that the blog isn’t important to me but, I wanted to show equal emphasis on my design work and capabilities.

When I set out to redesign this site it quickly became clear, I had a lot of work to do. I wanted something simple, clean, usable, creative and stylish. The landing page is the most important part of the site. I set out to welcome guests with the entire site experience in one place. After some thought, I found that I wanted to create a static page with dynamic content. Researching WordPress, I realized this was harder than previously thought. During my research, I kept reading about pages vs. posts and how there is a hierarchy of pages. Determined to understand this hierarchy, I consulted my previous theme’s template and Google. I only became more and more confused. People were talking about widgets and different pages that have specific semantic meanings. My template seemed to be missing something. The confusion lasted until I saw a forum post, where someone was trying to use these WordPress features and couldn’t figure it out. They posted their confusion on a forum and received the reply, “you probably have an old theme.” I then consulted the default WordPress theme and saw template php pages to take advantage of these new features. It was clear at this point, I had to abandon the old theme and plan for the future. I decided I was going to utilize the templates of the default theme to build my site.

Now that I had some ideas down I knew I had to act on them. When I was first putting this site up, I found a theme and just improved upon it. I did this with the built-in WordPress theme editor. This presents its own challenges, including, every change saved gets applied to the live site immediately. In a proper development environment this is less than ideal. After some more research, I came across xampp. Xampp is an application that turns your computer into an offline Apache web server. This was the perfect solution because I could export my current site and database information; then, built a new theme around this established content.

The design was created completely by me with Photoshop; then, sliced up for this website. I chose a dark theme because they are said to be among the most difficult to create. You are limited to the colors, lighting, and textures you can use. With lighting limitations, depth becomes difficult. This then became a challenge I had to complete. I feel I successfully embarked on the journey through the dark side to create a complex design that somehow has an elegant simplicity.

Looking good only works, if it’s functional. I paid particular attention to layout and the future; two concepts that are seemingly unrelated but, have more in common with each other than one may think. That commonality is functionality. In terms of layout we can look at coding. The coding is heavily reliant on CSS, PHP, HTML and JavaScript. This combination of coding delivers a fast, clean and flexible environment. This will lead to a platform that is ready to take on whatever the future has to offer. These do play a role in developing for the future but, not as much as out next topic, the browser. At this stage in the game the browser has become the most talked about part the web. The term “modern browser” has become a popular term; a term that refers to the ability to support web standards and enable the ability to understand HTML5 and CSS3. When deciding how I would code this site I chose not to fully utilize the features of CSS3 because support is still scarce and require hooks like -webkit (safari and chrome) and -moz (Firefox). The final version will drop those hook causing me to rewrite a bunch of code. Planning for the future has some serious decisions.

One of the biggest decisions you have to make now is whether to support Internet Explorer 6. I decided to take the same stance as big companies like have taken and not support this site on Internet Explorer 6. Aside from the coding horror of trying to make IE6 render properly, Microsoft even seems to indicate that they support the browser for the lifetime of the operating System it was shipped with, by saying:

The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments. Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have.

Since Microsoft has decided to drop mainstream support for Windows XP, they will therefore drop support for Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft will only continue to offer support for XP over extended contracts. This is not something the general consumer will buy into and is mostly for corporations who need an extension to upgrade hundreds, if not thousands of computers. My site’s users are generally consumers without extended XP contracts. Therefore, I have dropped my support for IE6. IE6 is not one of the aforementioned “modern browsers.” There is little reason for any consumer to continue to use IE6 because you can get far more features, security, and usability enhancements from any of the later released web browsers. Internet explorer 8 was the first Microsoft web browser that didn’t seem to break any of my websites when using stylesheets from Firefox, chrome and opera.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my site. I hope you enjoy your stay. Feel free to comment on posts and send me feedback. I am always looking for work. If you want consulting or for me to build you a site, don’t hesitate to use the contact form and send me a message.

Changes Coming…

Hi everyone,

I would like to take this time to tell you that from now on I will be taking this blog a little more seriously. In the past, I wasn't very organized (which I discussed here). And, I didn't, and still don't, have much time to spend writing blog posts. Due to my lack of time, I would result to reposting videos, games, pictures, etc. that I came across surfing the web. Reposts of funny and interesting items will not go away completely but, you will see more original content from now on. I have been finding that when you post more original content, the more people take your site seriously which results in people visiting more often. The original content that I plan to post will focus more heavily on technology because I just am more passionate about it. I will, however, venture out into other topics.

When I started this site, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with it. I had just been approached by Brian Hursey, an individual I went to boot camp at EMC Corp. He told me he had webhosing and he didn't use half of the storage space. He then asked me if I wanted to host a site off of it. Since this was an offer that I couldn't refuse, I accepted the offer. I then had a site that I didn't know what to do with. I originally just started playing around with it, seeing how it worked, after all this was my first wordpress site. If you know anything about wordpress, it is a very different form of web design from traditional HTML with CSS websites. I had to familiarize myself with PHP. Eventually this resulted in what you see right now.

I realize that the site design is "OK" but, it does not reflect my talents and I am not that pleased with the overall look and design of this site. With that said you will see more design changes in the near future. I have a few ideas in mind but, I don't want to change it completely. One change is that I am thinking of moving the navigation menu for this site back to the top. Please feel free to post your suggetions of what you like or dislike about this site in the comments. Keep in mind, you don't have to be a registered user to post a comment.

Thanks for sticking with me,

Sean D. Feeney