Documenting my career change into tech… one class, one seminar, one book at a time.

Reading Maddness!

Alright, so recently I finished reading all 645,000 words of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – which I enjoyed more than I thought I ever would. Now that that colossus of personal reading is out of the way I plan on tackling a large load of career goal-oriented readings, before talking to anyone in particular about what I SHOULD be reading I started:

Information Architecture for the WWW by, Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfield.
Only about 45% of the way through, but so far pretty general. A lot of information I would consider common sense on arranging data & navigation for larger size web pages. I will continue to stumble through this slowly, but it’s not a page turner. I have since been recommended a lot of good reads from industry professionals so I think those will take the place of Morville and Rosenfield soon.

Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML
I decided I should start reading through this again. I’ve had this for a couple years & it’s a good basic review.

Mr. Bermon Painter recommended a ton of great books & suggestions for me. I decided to start with:

Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making by Russ Unger & Carolyn Chandler
Just bought this one, still waiting for it to arrive, I’m pretty excited.

Recently Finished:
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. by, Ann Handley & CC Chapman. (Audio Book)
I have a bunch of free audio book credits, so I figured why not. It’s only 7 hours long and I blow through audio books this will take a few days. Since I am blogging now the content even if it’s not all that specific – it can’t hurt to know. Plus the choices of good technology based books in audible format are pretty limited. So, I gotta make the best out of what I can find.

Need to Purchase:

Textbook – Human Computer Interaction, 3rd Ed. by Dix, Finlay, Abowd, Beale & The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman.
I will be starting these soon since I am planning on taking a Human Computer Interaction class this Spring at UNCC. These are the required textbooks so I figure can’t hurt to get them now & start plowing through them.

From here on out, I will continue to update when I finish & begin new books. Plus, I’ll keep a list of everything I have tackled on my Career Change Resume.


Who wants a new job? Career? Yes please!

So, how did I get here? Why did I decide on a gig swap at 29 years of age? Well, a few reasons: unlike most people these days, who always knew what they wanted to be:  astronaut, lumberjack, or a member of the DSRL (Oreo Double Stuff Racing League) C’mon! – Keep up people.  We can’t all be Payton Manning.  I had no idea. What I did know going into college – I liked working with computers, and that was about it.  I’ll blame the further destroying of my decision on the shoddy advising I received at UNCC.  My fault? Nay. The conversation went like this:

Me: I like computers and want to work in a computer field. Also girls.
Advisor: Computer Science!
Me: Well I am interested in web development, management, that kind of thing.
Advisor: Programming?
Me: Not so much. Does that have anything to do with girls?
Advisor: We’ll throw you in software development.
Me: Is that a ton of coding? I don’t think…
Advisor: Nope! If there is, you’ll learn.
Me: College! Woo! ::walks out holding a beer bong::


Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to coding. I took courses in C, C++ in high school.   Taught myself HTML as a hobby around the same time.  I will attempt to learn any language anyone wants to throw at me, particularly if it helps me do better at my job.  What scares me – I don’t want to be sitting around writing code for “Microsoft Word.”


Let’s be honest if that was my job I give myself two weeks before you’ll find me unconscious, clothed like an American Apparel model drowning in a sea of empty cans of mountain dew and reduced fat cheez-it boxes. I didn’t want my first course load as a freshman in college to be full of software development courses, but as it happened that’s exactly what I got. An 18 year old idea of fun on a Friday night is not writing code in a lab, especially while the rest of my friends were out binge drinking. I wanted to be BINGE DRINKING! My time in the lab consisted of improving my online gaming skills in Counterstrike while waiting for the grad assistant assigned to help you on your program flirted with the one cute girl sitting in the corner who signed up for the class because she thought C++ had something to do with bra size. So I got burnt out fast, and my GPA was only slightly impressive. Impressive as in I would have been the smartest guy in the fraternity but the dumbest in the lab; well, besides Victoria’s secret over in the corner. I kid.


Needless to say – I dropped it, got into Business Management because of the line I kept feeding myself: – “You can do ANYTHING with a business degree.” oof. I think I meant to say, “you can do ANYTHING that can be accomplished from the freedom of a 3 walled cubicle BUT also restricts you from the life long dream of a forearm tattoo designed to look like Megaman’s arm cannon.” Do I sit in a cubicle? Check. Am I tattoo free? Double check. Thanks Business Mgmt. I got into Human Resources as a concentration, since my Dad is kinda big time in the field himself.  Not to mention I like working with people. If in my first HR class the girl next to me would have asked why I choose HR as a career path, this would have been my response:


I like people.
But not people I don’t know.
I don’t like helping strangers.
Well, I don’t like helping disgruntle strangers.
I would help an old lady.
Well, but I’d rather deal with people I know.
Co-Workers.Yeah, that’s my speed.
Disgruntled co-workers? eh.
Ok I’ll help them too.
But I don’t wanna. 
You mean HR usually only helps the company, and screws over your co-workers?
Whatever I am already here.


I used to be a Computer Science major and I am just happy to be able to talk to girls again.  I actually really did like HR, though. I liked HR and Tech.  I loved the tech culture and the way things were going in the industry with companies like Google, and Zappos starting a new way of thinking, balancing your life and career. Appreciating your employees, and rewarding them appropriately.  So, that became my goal, land a good job and start battling the corporate goons to create better work environments everywhere.


Post-graduation I immediately landed an HR job at BJ’s Wholesale club. But along with my HR manager responsibilities I was also a store manager. AYO! Hold up.


Disgruntled strangers? Here’s a snippet for you: I once had to close down the gas pumps in the midst of a gas shortage.  I was blocking the gas pumps physically from the cars by using lines of twenty connected grocery carts. There was only a mile long line of cars waiting for gas at the time. Let’s just say people in line were not pumped. ZING! Once I got them all blocked off a lovely gentleman runs into the club and proceeds to scream at me for the next hour. This kind fellow informed me that is was, in fact, illegal to not sell gasoline when you still have some available. And yes, if you were wondering, he could pass on this information because he was an expert. A expert FRIGGEN tornado chaser! What this has to do with gas? To this day, I have no idea.


He followed up this lecture by handing me one of  his business cards with a picture of his tornado proof car. A professional storm chaser who drives his car into tornados, naturally, gas law bills are like his Bible.


Oh so if your bored, meet Steve Green. I did.

Meet Steve Green


Time to play the Fued. Out of 100 people surveyed the most common answer to: What is the most highly desired job out of college? bzzzz! “HR manager at Bj’s”


I didn’t even make the list! Horse shit! 3 people said Astronaut!  Oh, come on. There’s probably only 3 astronauts total now! Oh, step off it Steve Harvey!


I didn’t stay in this job long, bet you didn’t see that coming. I jumped around a little from a few recruiter positions to outside sales for a time period before quitting and rededicating myself to finding a good HR job.  When I landed an HR coordinator position with a Civil Engineering & Land Development company called LandDesign, I had succeeded. That’s where I met Eve Luppert. At the time, Eve was the VP of HR at LandDesign, and all around bad-ass. Seriously, I think that might have been on her company business card.


LandDesign was great. Our team of four from HR built the culture around this creative design firm. Eve ran the show, and she taught me everything I know about HR. We added new programs to the benefits yearly, did everything we could to be helpful to our co-workers, went out and bought the office beer at 3pm in the afternoon just to say thanks for kicking ass at their jobs. We created a place people wanted to work and it showed. 7th best mid-sized company in Charlotte by Charlotte Business Journal in 2007 & 2008. One of the best places to work in Architecture by Zweig White in 2008. Hardware.


I did a good bit of traveling recruiting engineers and architects, I was good at my job. I could relate to kids coming straight out of college and wanting to work at a great company that wasn’t all cubicles, time-stamps, dress-code policies, and jerk bosses. Instead of chatting kids up about their resumes I would hand them our company’s fake tattoos. Yes, we had LandDesign fake tattoos, and tell them if they would slap one on I would guarantee them an interview if they came into town.  The company was growing and doing great. For awhile anyway.  The company started struggle when the entire country started not doing so great and major projects started getting put on hold because people were becoming afraid to invest their money. Growth stopped and when I say we weren’t growing, I mean we were actually shrinking. I made it through two rounds of layoffs.  Since my primary job was recruiting; and well, now that we weren’t recruiting – I was let go.

That was my career in HR. I never made it back. Got a fancy tag to add to my title while I was unemployed: Brian Miller, PHR. It meeeaannns I am a Professional in HR, but that didn’t help like I thought it would. Had to pass a hard test and everything! That was back in 2008. I have had opportunities but they always ended up cancelling the position before I was brought on or end up hiring another HR Generalist with 20+ years experience and I couldn’t compete with that. They didn’t take my request to throw us both in the octagon and whoever came out standing got the job straight seriously. I have been described as scrappy, & I have hard elbows.

So here I am. Unemployed? No. I’m in BANKING! Yay! Charlotte!  I won’t get into much as I’m still in this particular position. I will tell you this- it’s a dead end. I have no desire to further my career if there even was a path to do so within my company. We have Hawaiian shirt day, followed by what feels like bring your own noose to work day. Our company has a very hip “Three E’s” policy we all work by, it’s very clever. And our CEO likes the quote “Don’t just be good, but…. wait for it Be GREAT!”  It’s all very motivational and I can’t wait to start every day. Armed with my E’s, quote, Hawaiian & noose. With all that what more motivation do I need to get my gig swap started?