Archive for career

The Secret Life of Introverts

Posted in Essays, Uncategorized with tags , , on November 3, 2007 by barbararuth

A friend pointed me to Jonathon Rauch’s article, “Caring for Your Introvert.”

I sighed a heartfelt Amen! One additional thought on being an introvert:

Career counseling books often suggest that introverts make good therapists and counselors because we enjoy substantive, one-to-one conversations. In my experience, this was not the case. As Rauch describes, I absolutely need time alone to think (worth noting, writing is a form of engaged thinking for me, to an even greater degree than it is a form of communicating.) I can give a presentation without anxiety. There is nothing I love more than an opportunity to share ideas with an interesting person, friend or stranger. Counseling didn’t quite fit the bill.

In some ways, working as a counselor felt like engaging in small talk. The job involved taking in the raw content of someone else’s head and helping that person piece it together.  My impulse for helping people who are working something out isn’t to listen to them or talk to them — or even to write to them. It’s to hand them something to read, that is, provide them with some refined thoughts they can use to process their raw ones! I benefitted from therapy myself — largely thanks to one therapist who assigned me reading materials (usually theoretical and academic essays on the issues I was struggling with) and another who gave me inquiries that I could go home and process by myself. The latter therapist even let me hand her pages of writing, the contents of which she would read and work into our discussions.

Psychotherapy today, I think, is an extrovert’s game; the conventions are firmly based on the cultural expectation that “talking things out” is the healthy, normal approach.


Old Wine, New Jar

Posted in Self-Employment with tags , , on October 20, 2007 by barbararuth

I have a freelance gig as a technical writer. The subject — energy-efficiency technology — is something about which my knowledge is minimal. Fortunately, most of the work I do is like a 7th grade English grammar assignment:

Rewrite this paragraph, replacing passive construction with active construction whenever possible.
Liven up this passage by using strong verbs instead of noun strings.
Identify and cut redundant adjectives.

Another data point in the case against credentialism. This work is easy for me because a) I have a knack (It’s too mundane for me to call it a “talent.”) for language that probably can’t be taught, and b) I have a solid base in grammar school grammar. So why did my ability to compete for the job depend so much on a college degree from a big-name school and years upon years of work experience? And why is this company, like many others, so willing to spend money paying the person whose work I’m re-doing — a person who presumably looked good on paper but lacked either the knack or the right training.