IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Posted by IT Pilgrim on December 10, 2008

Decisions … decisions ….When is it all too much? When does sticking it out become nothing more than wasting your life away?

As a serial job hopper, I generally go somewhere, work my hardest until I get bored an leave. Before I leave, I generally manage to shake things up, make a sizable dent in workloads and force the other workers to match my own crazy techno music pace, or die trying. There have been casualties along the way I am sad to say, but I am amused to say that a lot of places are required to use two or sometimes three people fill my shoes. I know how big my shoes can be to fill (and maybe my hat as well) but I always have left my mark.

Well, not here. When I got re-assigned away from Big Black Box Computer Company, well, it all went downhill in a massive mudslide.

So when is it all too much. This year I went from the 25% travel I signed up for, to 100% travel in one fell swoop. So my thought is, when is “sticking it out” actually worthwhile. I know the standard reasons, to establish stability, to make significant contributions, to work your way up the food chain. I don’t see that as a possibility here, though I have to concede that I may just be tired and feeling whiny.  At this point, I don’t even meet my own criteria for staying, as follows:

Am I happy?

Do I feel challenged?

Am I at least friendly with my co-workers?

Do I have a good boss who will help me grow?

Do I have room to grow within my role and the company?

Do I have interesting and creative work?

How easy/hard is it to get up to go to work versus to get up to go to the gym or anyplace else?

Am I living each day in a worthwhile pursuit?

Can I see the results of my work?

Am I making enough money to pay for necessities?

So, you take this list, and weigh they number of questions you answered yes to and the number of questions you answered no to. Add those up. That is the most logical way I know. However, that being said, I also know that I am not really a logical person, and those who say it is just that I am a woman, can stow it. You have to understand who you are, so if logic is enough for you, great, if not, you then have to weigh out how important each one is to you. I usually give them a percentage and add them all up on an excel spreadsheet.  I may not be logic driven, but i’m still a nerd at heart.

If you get some extra time, try it out. Does your current job measure up?

Photos by billaday and  by wsdot via Flickr Creative Commons.  

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Calling all other non-degree-rs out there

Posted by IT Pilgrim on October 29, 2008

Calling all other non-degree-rs out there …

I think its time to call to order an unofficial and hereto-for ignored community out there. The non-degree-rs.

Whenever people meet in a professional setting, they always have to exchange college information, where they went, when, like it is what defines them as a person. I have always found that sad, and am still amused at the shock I get when I say I never went. More and more though, I am seeing my own kind out there, the few, the proud.

So here comes my wakeup call … your degree, where you went, your graduate school time, that does not a rockstar make. Ladies and Gentlemen, you want to be the company rockstar? You want to be the name that companies fight over and throw money at? Your degree will never do it for you. In fact, it can be a hindrance. You see, while you were at the local college kegger, the non-degree-rs were working. Often work two or three times as hard to prove that they were more than capable of doing the job you were bidding your time for. Usually starting off as minimum wage workers, we push and claw and teach ourselves to make our own path to the top.

It is not some piece of paper that makes a rockstar. Far from it. Rather, it is the attitude, the work ethic, the tireless drive of a self-made man or woman. That’s the real American dream. I personally, spent evey waking hour cramming my head with any technical book I could get my hands on. That tireless drive to constantly learn more, faster than your competition, to always be improving your skills, to trade sleep for knowledge. That is what make the rockstar. I am far from alone in this. I survive job cuts that few others do, by always having some new skill to throw out, by proving I can take over new jobs that others balk at. Its that breadth of experience, from doing all the crappy jobs that the people with their degrees couldn’t be bothered to do that makes the difference.

So when I see loads of people going back to college because they have trouble finding a job, I cant help but be confused. Why? Perhaps, that, really is the difference, the willingness to reach, to grab whatever it is you want. I can’t say how often I’ve gotten jobs, that on paper, one would never think I was qualified for. What that has taught me is that a job description is kind of like a keyword search, an attempt to grab anyone or anything that might be even remotely related. so what’s the point of this ramble you might ask? The point really, is that piece of paper can define you, if you let it, but so can the lack of it. Sometimes shear audacity and drive conquer all.

And as to what you can do with that degree, see below:

Photo by davekellam via Flickr

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Its Time To Live For The Here and Now

Posted by IT Pilgrim on September 25, 2008

All of my life, I have lived for the future. Save for the future, plan for the future, live for the future, and even worse, I have lived for everyone else. I have worked multiple jobs to give my last $5 to family members who do not work more than 1 or 2 days a week, but they need money to get dinner for their kids. I have saved every possible penny for “the future,” and well, I think I have just been reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one. Due to some recent serious health concerns, I have come to realize that tomorrow may never come.

How sad would it be to live your entire life for a tomorrow that never came. To spend your entire life building a financial empire that will only be enjoyed by neices, nephews and even worse, their lazy parents? I don’t know why it took me so long to realize what I should have known all along. Somewhere there has to be some balance, but I woke up and realized that far too many people are depending on me. The bad part is they depend on me not because they have to, but because they can. Did I really set out to become an enabler?

Well, its time to stop. Somehow I need to figure out how to stop holding everyone else’s hand. Yesterday was for eveyone else, tomorrow, somehow will be for me. Now if I can just figure out how …

Photo by shoebappa via Flickr

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Are you disengaged from your job?

Posted by IT Pilgrim on August 4, 2008

Are you disengaged from your job? A recent Gallup study shows that only something like 19% of workers are actively engaged in their jobs. This means, knowing what your job is, knowing the expectations for your job, as well as knowing where you stand performance-wise and where your role fits into the company. Well, if only 19% of us have all that, one has to wonder where the problem is. Hang on, let me climb up on my soapbox here ….

OK, IT companies, here we go, here is how to fix this problem, drawing from personal experience and the experiences of those around me. If you want employees who actually care about their job, here’s your fix-it list.

  1. No one knows exactly what their job is. Job descriptions as usually all-encompassing, and on-boarding consists of a sheet of paper with your login on it. No one will ever tell you what your job is until you have not done it and it cost some manager their bonus. Flying by the seat of your pants, well, that wears out pants pretty quickly, and nerves as well.
  2. On-boarding is terrible. A sheet of paper with logins, really? That’s the best you can do? I have personally worked at some companies where one day, someone come up and starts yelling about something you have, or have not done. You let them finish, so you can ask, Who are you? Their answer being … “Your manager.” OK, noted. Here are some other sad examples (being a serial job hopper will give you lots of experience) In one job, I found out after two months that I had a desk, and co-workers. Ooh, nice job there manager. In another, I sat on the floor in a datacenter for 6 months, before moving on, never having worked my way up to say … a desk or a phone. IM anyone?
  3. Contractors are treated as a lesser form of pond scum, but we’re all contractors. Plenty of IT teams are fleshed out with all contractors so companies do not have to pay anyone benefits. That’s fine, it allows the employee more control over their work as well, but some companies have some real lovely rules for contractors, and if they on-board or train their employees, contractors get left out in the cold. Yet, 90 or 95% of a team may be contract, you do the math on the type of loyalty and quality work that will get you.
  4. Loyalty is Dead. Its time that the companies out there realize that its over. Asking an employee to have loyalty, when you are going to lay them off two months later? I think we’re all a little smarter than that. IT workers are often the cogs in the machine, and treated that way, but what happens when you can’t keep a cog for more than a month, with two month breaks in between? If you want to keep people, you first have to realize that you are running them off, and why. Otherwise you will never get the superstars, they will be warned off and you can resign yourself to the dregs of the techie barrel.
  5. Managers are just trumped up techies who never left. You cant stuff a techie with no social skills into a suit and expect him to be anything other than what he/she always was. Longevity does not a manager make. To many companies are just taking the last person they have left and making them the manager. If you want top talent, don’t manage them with the dregs.

These are just a top 5 here. There are many companies out there with some of these problems, some with all of them. Now, just for the record, I am not talking about small business, I am talking about fortune 500 companies, and companies who make their entire business from technology, but when it comes to the working environs, word gets around. That is the funny thing about technology workers, we tend to run into each other repeatedly, and just like a small town, we quickly all know who not to mess with. Now the real question is, will anyone ever do anything about it?

Photo by: swh via Flickr

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One Knot at a Time

Posted by IT Pilgrim on July 25, 2008

Goodbye Cruel World!

Goodbye Cruel World!

Finally, the decision is made. I can’t take it anymore, being here, sitting in this desk, in this dungeon anymore. I don’t want to sit alone in my fabric cage anymore. I got into IT after one day realizing that is where the money and opportunity is, at least in this town. It never had anything to do with a vocation or love of technology or such things. In fact, I don’t even like computers much anymore, its not all tragedy and horror, sometimes its nice to get to play with toys worth more money than you will most likely ever make in a lifetime. Its time to call it though. Not too long ago, a manager asked my (a perpetual job-hopper) what my loyalty to the position was. Believe it or not, I somehow managed to not laugh in his face. Loyalty? After they laid off some of my co-workers, my friends? I had one of my few moments of lucidity and was able to give an answer that has suddenly changed my outlook on life. I said, “I won’t be looking for another IT job in the months and years to come.”

Now, I am a bit of a weird cat in this day and age in that I don’t believe in sugar-coating anything, ever. i also refuse to do anything that I consider even borderline under the table. My company asked me for inside information on a client at who’s site I was working a while back, and I told them no. Flat out, No! I still remember the look I got, that flabbergasted, utter disbelief that someone would just say no. Admittedly, I have developed a bit of a reputation around town, anyone who wants a real straight answer comes right to me, and you either love it or hate it. So when I gave that answer, I meant it wholeheartedly, I just didn’t know it yet.

So now, those words have been haunting me for a while now. I realized that I had turned a corner, and finally figured out what I need to do. I never intended my journey to be a physical one, I have tied myself down a little too effectively to even think about it. Its time to start untying those knots. I refuse to just lay down and die here. If you give up all your dreams, you have already died, and I woke up to realize that I have let them all die, every single one. So now its time to start digging myself out.

I realize that a lot of people in this situation might just walk away from it all, forget the darn mortgage, etc but I cannot be that person. I know that it is a bit old fashioned but who do you know anymore that is truly governed by what is right? I must be ruled by what is right, by what is good and just in this world. So instead, I will free myself one knot at a time. Its time to pay off all those debts, sell all that crap that at one point was important to me and blow this joint. Somehow I will figure out a ticker, or some such, so I can setup a monetary countdown to freedom, I’ll post it when I figure it out. Now only one major hurdle to this planning process … telling the family.

BTW: That sheep is a piece of artwork, not a real sheep plummeting to its death.

Photo Via Flickr by ecatoncheires

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