Part 3: Becoming a Professional
by Terry Langholdt
When I was 10 years old, my grandfather Russell told me, “If you want to write a good story, grab their attention. Start at the end, and then take them to the beginning.”
Through the first two parts of my story, you have seen how the intrigue of technology formed the path that I followed through high school and college. In my third and final of installment of this trilogy, that endless path continues to where I am today.
I accepted my first job in IT. It was exactly what I hoped it would be. Uniting people with technology by making the machines perform all the repetitive, mind-numbing work was immensely satisfying. I worked long hours and traveled frequently, but I didn’t care. This was the IT learning curve. As an IT professional at the time, I had to do everything from gathering the requirements to delivering the product. It was the full package, and I couldn’t think of a better way to begin this career.
In reflection, my career was so focused on technology and people that I didn’t realize my customer service skills were radically evolving to this new thing called the “internet.” I owned a small computer store that sold “customer service” and invested in people to show them how we could close distance with technology. For example, there was a man that used to mail letters to a friend in Germany on “onion paper.” This onion paper was lighter and cheaper to send via the post office. Little did he know, there was an even better way.
The idea of electronic mail baffled him. After hours of practice, his world seemed to shrink as he could email his friend and get a reply within an hour without spending any money! The entire process used to take weeks and could get expensive. Now, through technology, he could experience the flow of conversation in only a few minutes!
My career quickly moved into large corporations that needed assistance in introducing new, cutting-edge technologies. This sparked the leadership phase of my career. I chuckle that I’ve been managing people for 20 years because it only feels like a blink of the eye. Helping people find their passion and encouraging them to be the best is truly where my career feels complete. I’ve made many friends along the way and earned a title from some as a “great boss”. I smile, as I feel all I did was listen, and push them to be better than they could ever imagine.
Now, I’m 48, married, with six kids, and I look back at all I’ve done, but more importantly, what I still want to do. I want to find the people that want to help others through technology, and teach them as much as I can. My title reads strategic consultant. To me, it’s my passion and drive culminating a 30 year career that gives me the ability to lead, the perseverance to get through the hard times, and the never ending hope to find the best of everyone.
As I close this series, I hope that I have inspired you to keep going in your career. Know that there will always be challenges and that the biggest thing is to believe in yourself and play every day like it is the Super Bowl. I love my career, and I thank my higher power for giving me the drive to take that 12-year-old kid and mold him into what I am today: a leader, a manager, a strategic consultant.