Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category:

OpticsPlanet Done

April 8th, 2017

After almost 4 years, I quit Opticsplanet (recently renamed Ecentria Labs). It was a good run – as I stated in my 2013 post, I loved the challenges but not the commute. The challenges for me mostly focused on management – I managed 2 teams and 12 direct reports at the time I left. This is the first job I was a full manager (done team lead) and I really enjoy helping/enabling people, making systems and processes more efficient, and being a force multiplier. But I also got to be scrum master and oversee the transition to agile methodologies which we started the year I joined. I am impressed by how more efficient it is for agile teams to collaborate with today’s tools when setup properly and how much easier it is for me to manage with those tools, specifically Atlassian suite (jira, confluence, bitbucket, bamboo), skype, and slack. I also enjoyed working with the people there – the most important thing for me in any job. I still needed to scratch my programming itch, and mostly got to do that enough via little projects here and there. However, my learning plateaued, the commute still sucked, I wanted to do other things.

So what next? First, I just got back from a 8-day solo vacation in the southwest. Much needed time to unwind, hike, snowboard, get some sun, and enjoy nature. I also plan to spend time to understand and help my wife’s growing letterpress business,, which Shayna successfully manages with very little help from me. I also want to spend some time figuring out what my next play will be – ideally I find something that inspires and motivates me because I believe in it. Yeah, I know, its kinda abstract and similar to what I did before – see Green Abort for quick summary. But with the politics these days I reminded how much I care and am influenced by things that I don’t have much control over, and want to change that. And maybe this will end as it did last time … back to a job in Tech since that is where my skills and experience are. Until then, a new chapter begins in 2017. Hooray for change.

New House

May 29th, 2014

Today we are moving. A few days ago, Memorial Day, Shayna and I boxed up the last 6 years of our life in the apartment. The movers are now moving everything to our new house. I am sooo excited for our new house. Since we closed May 7, I’ve spent most of my free time there. Cleaning, fixing things, ripping out the basement ceiling. Work is much more fun when its your own. We bought the house as-is, so there’s several things we were unsure of. For example, the basement ceiling needed to be demolished and fixed – work in progress (thanks Sean!), and the lawn mower was a question mark at first, but last weekend I plugged it in (surprise, its electric) and cut the grass with great pleasure. But the entire process has brought me more deep satisfaction than I anticipated – Looking for houses for months, finding this one, knowing it was what we wanted, getting our offer accepted, getting our ducks in a row for the loan and everything else for closing, then signing the papers and walking away with keys. We still have much more to do, but I am looking forward to coming home everyday to OUR VERY OWN HOME.

Chicago Roots Down

September 14th, 2013

Back in 2008 Shayna and I moved from SF to Chicago. I ended the longest stint living in one spot – 13 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. The second longest time living in one spot was 11 years in Atlanta where I grew up. So when I left SF it felt like I was leaving home. I was always thinking in the back of my mind I’d return one day. Well, here I am, 5 years later in Chicago, and I finally accepted Chicago as home. We’ve decided it’s time to put some roots down and buy a house.

I still love California. I think I will always consider it home. The Sierra Nevada mountains may be my favorite outdoor place in the world, whether I’m snowboarding in Lake Tahoe or Backpacking in Kings Canyon. I’m always in awe. Besides the mountains, there are tons of other amazing outdoor options – Camping along rivers at the foothills, driving along the windy coast, Pismo sand dunes, Sonoma and Napa wine country, etc. And as a techie, there’s no place better to work – its like LA for movies, NYC for finance, and Washington DC for politics. And of course the people I’ve met over the years are really what make it home. The biggest group of crazy, goofy, smart, hard working, creative, people I may ever know. I was lucky enough to make some great friends and had more good times than I can shake a stick at (can’t shake them old sayings). I miss you guys.

Chicago gets better every day. There’s so much to love about this city, as long as you look. Thanks to burningman, I immediately found lots of people in Chicago that liked to get goofy, get creative, and get down to good music. Then there’s the obvious stuff about Chicago like how beautiful the architecture is, how big a city it is (feels so much bigger than SF and LA, only NY seems bigger in the US), how many museums, parks, and festivals there are, and how great the summer is. The summer really is fantastic. Really. Sure the winters can seem long come march, april, and sometimes may. But that makes the summer that much more delicious. And the tech scene will never be better than SF, but its getting better all the time, its a huge city, and my current job shows me that there are still plenty of exciting and challenging tech opportunities in Chicago. It still doesn’t have mountains close by, that will always suck, but there are direct flights from O’Hare to the Rockies. Just got to make enuf green so I can fly to the mountains for the weekend, like the way we drove to Tahoe on the weekends.

More specifically, it’s house time. Shayna and I have been through alot over the years and decided it’s time. Time for more room so we can do more with our lives. Time to customize stuff to make our lives better. Time to have a place that we can control and is ours to mold for us. The only question is, which house will be lucky enough to have the Norwoods? The first question our friends ask is where are we looking. Right now we have few constraints – in the city of chicago, but basically anywhere from Bridgeport (just SW of downtown) heading north as far as Lincoln Square. But more likely it’ll be closer to Logan Square (our current residence, which we LOVE), Bucktown, Humboldt Park, or spots ’round there. More important to us than the location is the house itself. But we are still early in the process, and even though we’ve made a prioritized list of what we’re looking for, we expect it to change after we start going to see more houses.

Oh, and totally unrelated .. we are planning a 2 week trip to Patagonia, South America, in February 2014. Hurray! Stay tuned for more Norwood Adventures !!!


Summer Festivals on a Map

April 10th, 2011

Leaving Wedding Ceremony

Summer is finally here in Chicago. I woke up this morning and it was already 71 degrees out, giving me (and everyone else) a thirst for summer.  And one of the best things about summer in Chicago is all the street festivals.  In the past I added my favorite ones to my calendar.  This year I decided to go a bit further and I created a Google calendar called “Chad’s Chicago: Summer Festivals and More”.

The calendar includes every major summer festival in the Chicago area.  And as I say on the calendar subtitle, this is “Events Chad would do if he had the time: Summer Festivals, Burningman art and music, beer, outdoors, gardening, etc.”  Currently there are about 100 events listed for this summer – and I’m adding more every day. Great for people who want to explore different neighborhoods on different weekends, or people who want to hit more than one event in the same neighborhood on the same day, etc.

If you just want to look at the events, use the Chad’s Chicago – web browsing link. If you use google calendar already, you can subscribe to the calendar using this Chad’s Chicago – iCalendar link .  If you’ve never done that or forgot how, read the google help on subscribing to calendars.

The main reason I made this calendar was to see all the Festivals on a map.  We all know Chicagoland is a big place, and sometimes you just want to know about events in your neighborhood.  Well, now you can.  My GCM project (Google Calendar Map) puts all events from a google calendar on a google map. Whoa.  Tricky, eh?  Check it out for yourself – GCM: Chad’s Chicago on a map.

New Job

July 11th, 2010

Well, new-ish job.  Back in March I decided to enter the world of full-time employment again.  This is my first full-time job since I left yahoo in 2006.  Immediately after yahoo, I enjoyed time with friends and family for several months. In 2007 I traveled around the world.  Then in 2008 I decided to follow my girlf.. ahem, fiancee, the lovely miss shayna, to chicago where she began grad school.  Since I’ve been in Chicago I’ve pursued various opportunities in technology and business.  I spent most of 2009 doing entrepreneurial ventures with midventures, some successful, some not.  I met a lot of interesting people and learned that Chicago startup tech scene is quite different than San Francisco (aka silicon valley) in many ways.  Then, looking for something a little different (as I often do), I did some contract work in the agency world, working with BBDO and Whittman Hart, then landing at my current position with Critical Mass.


Critical Mass is great. No, I am not talking about the bike ride, although that is great, too.  My Critical Mass (aka CM) is a digital advertising agency. That means they primarily build websites and mobile apps, but operate more like an advertising agency than a technology shop. That means lots of client handholding, helping with strategy, extra creative power, and generally going above and beyond the call of duty. CM likes to say they create extraordinary experiences.  Their clients include big names such as Budweiser, Nissan/Infinity, USAA, Autotrader and United Airlines.  The last one, United, was and is where I spend most of my time. United Mileage Plus (UMP), which is actually a separate business unit from United Airlines, just launched a new version of designed by CM.   That made for a very busy month of June for me, Mr. Chad.

My role within the company is somewhat unique.  My title is Senior Developer, but I do more client management than i do technical work.  I also manage other CM developers working on United, and engage with the technical people on the client side.  As somebody who’s had experience in various roles and technologies, I am a good fit for this position. I enjoy the diversity it offers – I interact with a really talented and great team of people at CM, I get some freedom to manage my time and career, and the chicago office in general is a fun and creative group.  I hope the challenges keep coming !!

If you know anyone looking for a job, Critical mass is hiring.  Email me and I’ll put in a good word.

End of Summer

October 1st, 2009

What an awesome summer.  My first one in Chicago, and it went by so fast and kept me so busy I didn’t have time to write any blog posts.  ’twas full of chicago biking, sunshine, friends, and music – my favorite things.  I also worked on some good projects, and met many cool people.  Besides Chicago, I took a few roadtrips around the midwest, ventured to NYC by train, Atlanta by plane, and spent almost a month in California and Nevada.

Chicago Corner Farm

One of the biggest things I did this year was help start a community garden.  Shayna wanted to grow plants for making fiber, and she found a couple other locals, Noah and Margaret, who were looking to start a garden.  With some grant money from Shayna’s school and a lot of hard work, we cleared land, built some beds, and planted many edibles, a few ornamentals (flowers and such), and fibers for making paper.  We busted our ass on the weekends in the beginning, but was definitely worth it.  I enjoyed being outside, working with my hands, meeting neighbors, and of course eating tomatoes, basil, and other herbs and vegetables.  We also made a smaller garden in our backyard, too, with our upstairs neighbor, Andy.  You can read more on the website Shayna and I put together – chadnorwood.comC/a>.

Chicago Critical Mass, May 2009

Summer had a cold start this year.  In fact, I think we only turned on the AC once this whole summer.   But that didn’t stop us from having lots of fun.  I already blogged about Indiana Dunes camping, but we also started out in may doing the Chicago critical mass bike ride.  I spent way more time on my bike than in a car, bus, or train .. the way life should be.  Chicago makes it easy – it’s flat and its never too cold at night. We rode to brunch, to the beach, downtown, to bars .. I even rode over 10 miles home at 4am from the south side of Chicago. I also rode crazy bikes at the Tour De Fat festival sponsored by Fat Tire beer.


Speaking of festivals .. Chicago wins.  Every weekend, all summer long, there are several street festivals in various neighborhoods throughout Chicago.  Blues festivals, House music festivals, Irish/Scottish/German/Polish Festivals, Beer Festivals, Ribs Fest, Wings, Taste of Chicago (biggest one ever), and the list goes on.  Chicago city law requires them all to be free, but they usually ask for $5 or $10 donation.  They always have street vendors – food, shirts, art, etc.  They usually have 2-5 stages where bands, djs, or somebody performs.  And the people go nuts if the weather is beautiful – unlike California, rainy days will keep you inside, but that makes the sunny days even more precious.

We also enjoyed many visitors – especially our SF friends !! Juan, Jason, Damian, Ramon, and Monica came out for a weekend making me feel at home.  We showed them the beautiful Millenium Park, the view from the top of the Hancock tower (2nd tallest bldg in chicago), the beach, summer street festivals, and chicago deep dish pizza.  A month or so later Checkoway visited and we had a similar experience – drinks, tall buildings, beach, and enjoying friends.

Shayna and I also loved the scenic and surprisingly comfortable 20 hour train to NYC for a wedding of an old friend, Sarah Bates, to Leo De Alvia .  I’m very happy for them and enjoyed seeing all our friends in NY.  In addition to NY,  I also made it to Atlanta for Fathers Day.  Got to give it up for good ol’ Dad !! And it was nice seeing my sisters families and nieces and nephew.  They grow up so fast. heh.


We had lots of fun with our new Chicago friends – monthly dinner parties, rooftop BBQ on 4th of July, lots of biking around to bars, cubs game, and other summer activities.  Best event with Chicago friends was the camping trip to Oregon IL.  Oh man was that fun. We camped and made s’mores over the fire, told stories and went on hikes.  But the main event was on sunday – the Demolition Derby.  Oregon is the home town of Miss Amanda, and she showed us how they have fun in the midwest – crashing cars.  Booya !!

One of my favorite trips this summer was Lakes of Fire – a regional Burningman in Michigan, about 3 hours from Chicago.  It was about 500 people (instead of the 40,000 at burningman in nevada), and it felt more like home than i could have imagined. I met amazing people, saw some cool art, and had tons of fun.  I especially enjoyed meeting the freakeasy and illmeasures peeps – they throw good parties in chicago for the bman crowd.


Last but not least was our trip to Burningman.  We joined Brasstax (our SF crew) in the Boombox camp.  It was my 10th year at bman, and altho i love it, i love my friends more, so i spent most of my time in the camp.   We flew to SFO on thursday, drove up early (friday before it started) and left 8 days later (sat night as they burned the man).  We assembled the boombox in 4 days and tore it down in 1.  We “burned” it … altho most of it was good wood so it got recycled.  I could go on and on about bman but pics are worth a thousand words.  Anyway, it was great to spend some quality time with my crazy friends.   After that I spent some time in California hanging out, Eumi’s and Lori’s bdays, a day hike at mt. tam, and did another trip to Tahoe for Fritz’s Bachelor Party.  I love tahoe – could be my favorite natural place on the earth.

The summer ended with one final trip to St. Louis for Shayna’s 30th birthday.  The main event was the city museum, which is my favorite man-made place on earth.  If you haven’t been, and you are still part kid, you MUST go.  It was also nice to do a road trip and see friends in another city.

Fall is supposed to be nice in chicago but pretty short .. in less than 2 months it will be cold for a while.  Then spring and summer again !!!  If you want to visit, plan now, cuz it’ll give you something awesome to look fwd to.


Indiana Dunes Camping

May 28th, 2009

Last weekend we spent a couple nights camping at the Indiana Dunes, about 90 minutes from Chicago.  It was awesome – the first time I’ve gone camping this year.  Despite it being Memorial Day weekend, it wasn’t too crowded – we snagged a walk-in camping spot friday morning at 10am, which is check-out time.  We chose Dunewood Campground in the National Park over the state park cuz Dunewood was surrounded by trees (and we like the yelp info). The state park is closer to the lake and has RV hookups .. but no trees and you’re basically right next to your neighbor.

The dunes themselves were pretty cool, but mostly it was just a big beach, unlike Pismo Beach in California which is more like a desert going back a mile from the water.  Friday we climbed to the top of Mt Baldy (second highest spot in the area) and watched the sunset, then ate dinner back at the campsite.  Saturday we walked around the Chellberg Farm and Bailly homestead – Joe Bailley was the first in the area in 1822 and traded furs with the native americans.  They had some restored homes and structures that were pretty interesting.  In the afternoon we went to the state park and had lunch, played frisbee, and hung out.  It was warm enough to enjoy the beach but not the water.  Apparently Lake Michigan can have very high bacterial counts – you don’t want to go in the water when that happens. Saturday night we played cards, played with the fire, and ate lots of smores.  Could not have been more relaxing.

Now that we’ve been to Starved Rock and Indiana Dunes –  I want to go camping at Devil’s Lake – do some swimming, hiking, and campfires.  My favorites.  See more on chicago camping.

AT&T Billing Confusion

March 24th, 2009

In today’s global competitive economy, how can companies stay ahead and make profit?  I’ll tell you how – by constantly changing their billing statements and providing customer support lines that are time consuming and full of untrained people.

Confusing Billing Statements:

My AT&T flickr set has the details of the first 6 bills, focusing on the AT&T – DISH Network (satellite TV) section.  To be fair, AT&T bills me, but DISH Network is the one who comes up with all these crazy line-items. Not one of them is the same.

2008-09-13: Total -$8.51 (credit)
2008-10-13: Total $95.98
2008-11-13: Total $54.99
2008-12-13: Total $89.99
2009-01-13: Total $60.97
2009-02-13: Total $72.99
2009-03-13: Total $36.57

Untrained Customer Support:

Oh, you think there might be an error on your bill?  No problem – Just call our Support line.  Hello, that’s half the problem. As mentioned in my previous post on Chicago Internet, I spent many hours on the phone trying to sort out initial billing confusion.  But I still have had to call several times to sort things out.   Part of the problem is the unusual relationship between DISH and AT&T.  They sometimes like to transfer you to the other.  Also they like to put you on hold for a moment and then after 10 minutes the line hangs up and you must start over.

Direct line to DISH Support- 866-266-1292

Best to start a Billing Chat Session with DISH Customer Support (transcript below)

The first billing confusion was based on the fact that I was told that I get free outgoing calls within 15 miles.  A manager at AT&T Customer Service assures me there is no such thing, and tried to sell me an outgoing call package deal.  No Thank You, Ma’am. Secondly, DISH is all sorts of messed up .. took 3 calls to sort of straighten it out.  See this picture with details on DISH Bill.  Basically they give you lots of credit on first bill to cover first and second bill, and the third bill should look normal. Did you look at that Bill?  what’s so hard about saying “TOP 200?, “Local HD”, “HD Silver” ???  One thing nobody mentioned is that they charge you $5/month if you don’t connect your DISH receiver to phone or wifi – “ADDL RECEIVER ACCESS FEE”.  What?   .

In any case, my most recent bill in march seems to have no errors.  Wow.  We’ll see how long that lasts. And here’s the transcript from my chat session with the DISH billing support.

Please wait while we find a representative to assist you…
You have been connected to (03) Rachel S..
(03) Rachel S.: Thank you for choosing Dish Network the leader in DVR and HD. I will be happy to assist you today. Please give me 2-3 minutes to access your account and review the information you have already provided.
(03) Rachel S.: Your patience is greatly appreciated.
(03) Rachel S.: I see that your Dish Network account is bundled with one of our Alliance partners.
(03) Rachel S.: We are sorry, we don’t have access to bundled accounts. However, we have a specialized department in Dish Network that takes care of bundled accounts.
(03) Rachel S.: Let me go ahead and transfer your chat to that department.
(03) Rachel S. has left the session.
Please wait while we find an agent from the (12) Partner internal department to assist you.
You have been connected to (23-12-3) TJ P..
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you for choosing Dish Network, the leader in HD and DVR services. This is TJ, Operator ID ZAH. I’d be happy to help you with any questions or concerns today. Can I please have the name and zip code on your account?
Chad Norwood: chad norwood 60647
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I see you are inquiring about billing errors. I’m sorry to hear that. I’d be happy to assist you with this today.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: What in particular is the issue?
Chad Norwood: My bill dated Jan 13 is incorrect
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m sorry about that sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: What is incorrect on it?
Chad Norwood: 2 items, both labeled “2 premium package”, one for $9.02, one for $20
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I do see both of those on there.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I also see credits towards those of $13.53 and $18.04.
Chad Norwood: thats for “3 premium package” and “4 premium package”
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Then I see one more additional charge for $13.53 towards the premium as well.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, it’s due to removing movie channels.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Those are the partial charges and credits that applied due to that change.
Chad Norwood: “3 premium package” has a charge and credit, so it cancels itself out
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes that is correct.
Chad Norwood: the “4 premium package” credit of $18 goes towards me canceling $40 in december
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You still have the SilverHD and PlatinumHD packages on your account which is the 2 premium package.
Chad Norwood: Ok
Chad Norwood: I did sign up for Top 200 and silver HD in september 2008
(23-12-3) TJ P.: That billing cycle ended on January 12th. Since you removed those channels in the middle of that, it did credit you back for the time you didn’t have the 4 premium package.
Chad Norwood: so i suppose $10 is OK, but not platinum
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I can remove the PlatinumHD right now for you sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I see PlatinumHD was signed up for for 3 months free on October 30th.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: There is normally a $5 fee for removing programming, but I will waive that for you today.
Chad Norwood: I never wanted the platinum
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m sorry about that sir. I can credit the difference back to your account.
Chad Norwood: I never wanted anything but Top 200 and silver .. so anything that was “free” that has a charge on it, isn’t really free, now is it?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: IT was free for 3 months sir, so yes it was free.
Chad Norwood: I appreciate you taking care of this, tho.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: After the three months, no, it is no longer free.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You’re welcome sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Just a moment to apply that credit.
Chad Norwood: I also have questions about Feb 13 bill
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Sure sir.
Chad Norwood: First – you can take off platinum hd, right?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I already have that removed and there is a $20 credit on your account covering two months of that.
Chad Norwood: second, my $49.99 Top 200 turned into $57.99 classic silver 200
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, we did have a rearranging of fees and a price increase on February 1st.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: The price increase itself raised your package $3 only.
Chad Norwood: i got a notice saying name change and price to $52.99
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, if you notice, you are no longer being charged $5 for the Additional Receiver Access Fee.
Chad Norwood: so price is off by $5
Chad Norwood: $49.99 is on Jan 13 bill
(23-12-3) TJ P.: That is now included in your DVR Advantage pack, bundled with the price, instead of showing separate.
Chad Norwood: what is that additional receiver fee for ?? I only have one reciever
(23-12-3) TJ P.: So your monthly rate did only increase $3. The $5 you were paying before as a separate fee is no longer on the bill and the price of the package rose $5. So those offset each other created no increase there.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Excuse me, that should say: Those offset each other creating no increase.
Chad Norwood: I understand the math
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Alright, sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: From removing the Platinum HD, you will see a partial credit on your next bill for that programming as well.
Chad Norwood: But what does that name mean – additional reciever – since i have only one reciever
Chad Norwood: is that right?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: It’s for the second signal running into the receiver.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: It wasn’t aptly named, which is part of the reason the way it came out changed on February 1st.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You have one receiver with two tuners in it. Two tuners allows you to run a second television if you’d like, but even without one it allows you to record or watch two live things at the same time.
Chad Norwood: Thank you
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You’re welcome sir.
Chad Norwood: I understand
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Is there anything else I could assist you with?
Chad Norwood: After several phone calls to DISH today, including 2 where i was hung up on, I”m glad to finally get a hold of somebody who knows what they are doing.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m definitely sorry to hear you had such trouble sir.
Chad Norwood: That is all.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m glad I could be of assistance however.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you for being a Dish Network customer. Have a wonderful day!
Chad Norwood: You too
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you.
Chad Norwood: Keep up the good work !!!
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I appreciate it!
Thank you for visiting Dish Network. You may now close this window.
Your session has ended. You may now close this window.

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

March 13th, 2009


The last week I’ve noticed lots of green in Chicago – People are getting siked for St. Paddy’s Day.  This year St. Patrick’s day falls on a Tuesday, and the parades are the weekend before.  That’s right, There are 2 parades in Chicago – the “official” one downtown (which moved from the south side in 1960) and the one in the south side (recreated in 1979). Here are the deets

  • March 14, Saturday’s Parade:
    • Where: Downtown, Grant Park, On Columbus from Balbo to Monroe (src).
    • When: 10:45am River turns green, Noon: Parade Begins
  • March 15, Sunday’s Parade
    • Where: South Chicago, on Western from 104th to 115th (src).
    • When: Noon Parade begins.
  • March 17, Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day

Some say the southside one is where the party is at.  That’s good, cuz it will give me time saturday to prepare my leprechaun costume.  I’m still gonna check out the green river and parade saturday, tho.

UPDATE: Southside parade might be canceled due to drinking (54 arrests) (src)

More Info


New Job

February 12th, 2009

After almost 3 years, I’m back in the game.  I’m working with, a startup company that does web solutions, community building, and incubation.  Small and young, there’s room for growth, further definition, and refinement, yet they already have had several successful projects and proven themselves in Chicago.  They focus on web 2.0 tech solutions, which is a great fit for my experience, but they have an eye for building out good ideas and working with the community (including many non-profits), which is great for where I want to go.  Technically I’m a contractor, working about 40 hours a week, but that may change in the future.


Since moving to Chicago last September I’ve looked into different career options before landing where I am now.  My job goal was to “gain experience in business roles while utilizing my internet, software engineering, and problem solving expertise” (according to my resume).  What that means is that I want to do new stuff, but not so new that I’m starting over with a bunch of recent college grads.  I wanted this new stuff to be related to one or more of the following interest areas: sustainability (help the world be a better place), business management (I want to own or run my own company one day), consulting (utilize the fact that my communication and social skills are above average compared to others with similar experience and skills), or any other area that is creative, challenging, and full of interesting people (my catch-all).  First I targeted a PM position at Google, but that didn’t work out.  I also considered getting an MBA, so I took the GMAT exam, which led me to train to be a Kaplan GMAT instructor (still in progress, stay tuned).  I also interviewed with trading firms (they attract a smart crowd), consulting firms (altho mostly use microsoft solutions in the midwest, which I don’t have experience with), and a few others.  I eventually came to realize I should work my strengths, bringing value, and then go from there.  That meant doing something internet and web related, so here I am.

I am very content with my accomplishments over the last couple years.  I traveled around the world, spent time with family and friends, improved my eating and exercise habits, ran a marathon, explored nature on many camping and backpacking trips, attended many music events and festivals, and spent time stress-free being happy.  I loved my time off, but without a full-time gig my brain felt like it was getting soft, so I am very excited to sink my teeth into work again.