A Year of Insights, Doubts and Change.

Here’s a story about my recent move from the pleasant job I had in the East Coast in Washington, DC that I was quite comfortable with and then felt that I’d like to shake things up a bit. It’s been literally a year since I set out on this endeavor and felt it rather cathartic and motivating for me to write this post. If you’ve been following me longer than a year, you might remember the one day I wrote this post where I announced that I was making this insane move. There was cautious optimism in my mind when I set out to this adventure – never thinking that the recession would be a bother to me and that I’d strike out on my own and seek out fame & fortune.

Have I found those things yet? Not quite.

Learning the name of the game.

Since I’ve been in San Francisco, I’ve done quite a bit of soul-searching and networking. I’ve been fortunate to have some great opportunities come my way, especially having the ability to work with one of the best interactive agencies here, DraftFCB where I got to put my producer skills to the test -and I loved it. Unfortunately that wound up being a contractor position and was terminated soon after.

I’ve learned that the key to success or even being noticed, for that matter, is networking. In moving to San Francisco, I really didn’t know many people here, let alone one of my best friends and some family, but that soon changed as I made a concerted effort to actually go out and meet folks. The thinking here was that I would make some solid connections which may transform into at least a job recommendation or something to help leverage for any future opportunities.

So I made my way through the streets of the city and met some pretty interesting and quite successful individuals. Some of these folks I still have a great professional relationship with and am thankful for having met: Karen Hartline, Adam Jackson, Adam Helweh, Morgan Brown, Derek Overbey, Claire Chang, Marie Domingo, Rachel Polish, Lucia Giacomantonio, Joann Peach, Christel Vanderboom, Liza Sperling, Christopher Peri and many, many others!

Traveling on nobody’s dime.

Since my move to the city, I’ve become more involved in what’s happening online. I think of this as a success since this was why I wanted to come to the home of Silicon Valley & startups. Since this time last year, I’ve been actively “traveling” to conferences around the Bay Area and even sometimes further out. This was probably the first time I’ve gone to these conferences for professional development and networking. Again, the thought was that I wanted to be seen so people knew who I was and potentially wind up with a solid relationship to build upon.

It all started out with this past year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX and from there just seemed to balloon and before I knew it, I was attending smaller conferences and larger conferences blogging and photographing what was happening. In just this past year, I’ve managed to accumulate over 14 conferences – way more than I’ve ever attended:

And that’s not even including the countless tweetups and meetups that I’ve been to!

Not doubting yourself is hard to do.

All the while since I’m out networking and meeting people, the harsh reality hits in that I’m not earning any money. After having gone on several interviews with no success, I’m forced to re-examine the way I look at my career. From being an interactive producer to a web marketing manager to a project manager, my whole life has centered around helping others create something unique and awesome online. Now after looking at the job positions, I’m wondering if that’s what I’d like to do. It’s amusing to me that while I know people in college who have no idea what they wanted to major in, I was pretty gung-ho in terms of knowing where I wanted to be and now it’s slowly starting to affect the way I perceive my career. I’ve been told by great friends that I should be an interactive producer or perhaps a community manager and I’m all for that – just need to find the right opportunity for me. I definitely know that the web is where I want to be.

One thing that has me rethinking things is the location where I’m at. I love being in San Francisco but if there aren’t the jobs here, then where should I be? Chicago? Boulder? New York City? Seattle? Washington, DC? Los Angeles?

This has been one of the things nagging me since I’ve been here and I’m hoping that something will come up that will lessen my burden of worrying about location and abundancy of jobs.

I’m not THAT well connected, am I?

Since I’ve been here, I’ve had some good days and some bad days. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to work with some great individuals, including Shashi Bellamkonda & Steven Fisher from Network Solutions and more recently Brian Solis and the rest of the Bub.blicio.us team.

Sure, I make it a point to try and meet the great folks out here that do some outstanding work in the web space – such as Shel Israel, Robert Scoble, Jeremiah Owyang, Dave McClure, Charlene Li, Gregarious Narain, Jolie O’Dell, Francisco Dao, Steve Rubel, Shel Holtz, Laura Fitton, Tara Hunt, Larry Chiang and many others (and no, I’m not name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping…I’m really honored to have met these people) and even managed to get a sneak peek at a few of them, but that doesn’t make me well connected, does it?

I must admit that after all my networking and seeing what others are doing on their own (either as “funemployed” or as consultants), I’m really intrigued as to whether I have the gumption and fortitude to strike out on my own or resign myself to being in the 9-5 job market.

Ending it all.

So I leave you here wondering as to where the next year will lead me. I’m here for the short-term but who knows what will happen. There are conferences to attend, pictures to be taken, things to be written about, but I’m reiterating my focus on finding my next job opportunity.

To the next 365 days that await me…

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.