My job is a huge part of my life... just ask anyone where I work or any of my friends (whom for the most part, are pretty much the same thing).
I'm currently the Business Development Administrator at InReach Internet, one of California's largest Internet providers. We're the company you would call to hook up to the Internet, just like AOL or MSN or any of a 1000 other regional companies. We also do additional Email accounts, web site hosting, bandwidth to other ISPs, and other business services like DSL, Co-Location, and T1s.
The difference is: we're profitable. We're privately held and don't spend a fortune on silly launch parties and expensive furniture. We don't squander away our marketing dollars or give away ridiculous incentives for people to join our service. We're actually spending time acquiring smaller ISPs to grow faster and remain in the black.
I've been working at InReach since Aug 15, 1995, which is only three months after we started. I've been here longer than any other employee that currently works there. :)
The pretty amazing thing about InReach is that, since I've been here since it essentially started, I've seen a teeny tiny company grow from a few employees to the 60+ that we have today. And all that in just over four years! We had 100 customers then.. we have over 45,000 now! We had one Class C then.. and now we're on our way to a full Class B (don't worry if you have no idea what that is.. just picture it as impressive, k?). We're one of the largest ISPs in California, and are THE most profitable, which is great!
The experience I've gained from InReach has been remarkable. I've been involved in a lot of things. Back when we were small, I was in sales and support. I wrote and published our second and third manuals (the first for Quarterdeck Mosaic, the second for Netscape 2.0). I also did a lot of our early web pages. After a while, I focused on special improvement projects, kinda like part of what I do now. I got involved in the telecommunications-side of our service as well as marketing. In '96 I organized all of our dial-up access numbers, started the InReach OutReach program (which gives free Internet access to schools and other non-profits), trained sales and support staff, designed the wording and flow of
our 800# system, wrote DataTracker (a program in VB which our sales team used to track advertising leads), developed PowerPoint presentations which we gave here and there, was the Excel God for nearly every spreadsheet ever started, and did tons of other things. I also remember something about researching a billing system for the company to use.
'97's focus was on marketing and advertising. I was responsible for our HUGE advertising budget - deciding which ads to place and which to cancel, the tracking of the ads, and even the placement and design of ads. I also wrote a lot of content for the third version of our manual, which even has an ISBN number and is in the Library of Congress. The OutReach program became official, as did a few other programs and procedures I worked on here and there. I had the excellent opportunity to work directly with the marketing teams at companies like Rockwell, Ascend, and USRobotics (now 3Com).
In '98, the focus was on our new service - web site hosting. This is where the pressure was on - it's almost like my own company. I wrote the business plan, the marketing plans, ad copy and design, web pages, the works, right down to the prices we're going to charge, names of the packages, and the procedures to fulfill the orders. We were also getting into DSL, which is a much faster way of accessing the Internet than with modem (it's like ISDN or a cable modem, sorta). I played a part in getting that rolled out as well.
In '99 I was in charge of the sales team, which was both fun and pretty stressful. They were great people, but every once in a while I wanted to go back to my own little world and just focus on things, not people. People are such a pain sometimes. But not always.. they were actually great to work with, and seemed to put up with me pretty well. :) The best part is that with the authority I had over the sales department, I can really really optimize how things worked, make sure everyone is trained properly, and do other things which really effected the bottom line. Scary stuff, but fun.
In 2000 (yes, we survived the Y2K media-blitz) I went back to Project Management and focused on all sorts of things. I did this for two more years, in one way or another.
Towards the end of 2002 my focus was changed to improve sales, but still with a project twist. I was tasked to refine one of our sales programs: a referral system for computer stores and consultants. This is the same position I have today and it's definitely a blast.
That's attributable to two things: the thrill of the new industry, and the people I work with. With the Internet, everything is changing. Competitors are popping up and going down in flames at every corner. New technology arises that we have to keep up with. Markets change back and forth and people don't know what they want in an ISP, and we're trying to keep up with them. I think without the fear and paranoia that everything could change the next week.. it'd be a lot less exciting. But, it's that same fear and paranoia that keeps us ahead of everyone else. We must provide the better, faster, easier, friendlier service.. or the next guy will and we'll lose our clients.
Remember: Reaching the Internet is Easy!