Hey Hackers! I’m Mike Shine, and I’m a technical writer at Good Words LLC.
First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating me for a 2021 Noonies award! It’s an honor just to be nominated.
I’ve been nominated in the following category, so please do check out the award page and vote:
Read on to learn more about me and what I do!
I’m about one year into a fairly significant career pivot from education to tech. Ever since I was 17, I have wanted to be a teacher. And so I was – I earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education, a Master’s degree in educational leadership, and I proudly taught in public schools for over five years.
Around the beginning of COVID, there was some turbulence in my personal life, and I began to feel trapped. Even though I loved (and still love) teaching, I found myself wanting to move in a different direction with my career. I always had an interest in technology, and so I enrolled in a coding BootCamp in hopes that it would launch my new career as a software engineer.
Instead of pursuing software engineering, I ended up in the technical writing field, which is engineering-adjacent and still involved in the software development lifecycle. I enjoy expanding my technical knowledge and skill set as widely as my interests reach!
As a technical writer, my job is to write technical documentation such as release notes, UI text, help articles, and learning modules for internal and external stakeholders. In my current contract role, I write external documentation for Salesforce’s Mobile Publisher product, which builds, brands, and deploys mobile apps for external customers.
This is my second contract with Salesforce; previously, I wrote internal documentation for the Core Infrastructure team. I like working as a writer in tech because I am responsible for making complex technical concepts and products accessible to users; without good documentation, new tech will not be adopted, regardless of how innovative or groundbreaking it is.
Before moving into the world of tech, I was a public school band teacher. I’m still very passionate about music education and the U.S. public education system more generally. My tech journey began when I participated in a coding bootcamp in late 2020. Although I learned a lot during the experience and gained a passion and curiosity for software development, I didn’t feel like becoming a software engineer was the right path for me.
From there, I stumbled into the world of technical writing, which felt like a good mix of things I enjoy. In technical writing, I can combine my knowledge and interest in technology with my experience and passion for education to create documentation and learning materials that help users understand, use, and leverage new technologies.
It’s not a single new technology, but of all the tech innovations we’ve seen in recent times, I think that the strides that have been made in the realm of assistive technology give me the most hope. Keyboards, screen readers, alt text, and more have grown more robust in recent years, and even commonplace functionality like voice-created reminders have become a necessary aid for folks like me who struggle with focus.
Although there is much more room for continued improvement and innovation, I am hopeful that technology can help create a more equitable society. My own focus tends to be on the disparity of opportunity within the United States’ public education system, but any technological innovations that can help disenfranchised people or people with disabilities are valuable and worthwhile.
No, but seriously, I am gravely concerned about the degree of influence that large tech companies have on global society and the population. Many large tech companies have earned (and rightly so) the distrust of their users, especially with regard to their data collection and privacy practices. Technology grows much more quickly than the laws that are meant to regulate it, and if companies aren’t compelled to act ethically for the sake of their users, they have proven time and time again that their bottom line will remain the driving force behind their decision-making process.
Probably cryptocurrency. Although I am one of the many people who don’t fully understand crypto (Wait, NOTHING objectively has value? The value of the currency is entirely subjective? mind blown gif), I certainly wish I had paid closer attention to my buddy from college who was bullish on crypto back in, like, 2012 or 2013. (Marty, if you’re reading this, cheers to you, my friend!)
I’m also in the planning stages of turning my grandfather’s thorough research into our family’s history into a website. I’m exploring tools like GoJS to figure out what the best path forward is. If anyone reading this has experience with this, I’d welcome some advice! :)
This is a tough question to answer because we never really know the depth of our impact on others, except on the rare occasion that they tell us. I would say advice that I tend to give often that resonates with people is “be true to yourself.” It may sound generic and uninspired, but I think that most unhappy people are unhappy because they take jobs and do things that don’t align with the person they are at their core.
The people you love and care about want you to be the best version of yourself, and you should want that for yourself too! So, find out what fulfills you on a core level and work towards doing that as often as you can, possibly even as a career or job.
This is also a very hard question to answer. I’ve been fortunate beyond measure to have had the support of outstanding mentors in nearly every stage of my life and career who have selflessly devoted their time and efforts to me. I’ve received great advice from so many people that have shaped both my personal and career growth. I don’t think I can isolate a single best piece of advice.
The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.