On careers and conundrums..

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by pettyfog, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    This thread brings to mind some advice I can offer you younger guys and gals!

    this is long, you may want to skip to the bottom to see what it's about then come back up to here

    You notice I have a lot of time on my hands to mess around with soccer web sites and opinions... ie; to just be ornery for the fun of it. All unpaid of course... well, NOT exactly unpaid, but nothing you can put in the bank account.

    I wont bore you with how I developed from a little kid with a fascination about 'How things work' which resulted in a room full of useless radios and parts by the time I got into HS {where I shifted my focus to girls and cars, like anyone else}.

    I'll start at the near-end... making REALLY big bucks working for an On-Line legal research company, we'll call it eL/eN, as a senior integrator / analyst / telecom engineer.

    In fact I had the distinction of being one of those guys who was sought after by all the technical departments; either for my expertise, or as a way of controlling my loony project proposals. But wherever I went, my 'projects and particulars' went with me.

    Alas, there comes a time when all your good work gets you promoted to the REAL'Peter Principle' Zone {look it up} but it turns out that truism USUALLY means that you've been promoted to responsibilities, not beyond your competence but, that have nothing to do with what you actually WANT and LIKE to do.. in other words, you get promoted to the point where you dont and never have given a sh!t about the required tasks. For me, pushing paper instead of ideas and solutions.

    So comes the time of the inevitable re-org, and that means cut all all the high-paid who have no direct connection to the bottom line. Which means - me.

    So I took my very handsome severance check and financed a year-off to plan the rest of my life.

    DONT EVER DO THAT !!!!!!
    {Better to work at a crap job at a company you dont like or with people you dont like! At least you'll be learning something of value, either at your skill or about handling people. Grit your teeth and tough it out while you're planning your next moves; but NEVER let them wear you down.}

    I realized after far too long dreaming that an independent employment meant going into SALES. First I'd have to sell the need for my services, then I'd have to sell ME!

    I have nothing against sales... I was one of the few gear-heads that was deemed fit and proper, meaning dressed reasonably well and knew enough not to fart during senior executive presentations, to backstop big account sales on Park Avenue, meeting with Ivy League partners and such...
    But that was as ''Technical Sales Consultant", NOT sales and closings, a whole different thing.

    But, after a year of looking at my navel-lint, I realized what I wanted was not income but to enjoy my job, and that meant going back to 'hands-on' IT. So I decided to knock ten or fifteen years of raises and promotions off my salary reqs and applied to the first non-boilerplate 'Are you up to it?' job ad I saw. It was a somewhat whimsical job ad from a small call center at a company we'll call B1.

    I responded in kind, noting how lucky they would be to get me who had been to the mountain and back and now wanted to get back in at the ground floor. And I PC-faxed my response. Turns out that this impressed the guy more than my background.. that my initial response looked more like it came off a printer than his fax machine... guess no one there had ever done that {this was '96}!

    So I got the job and enjoyed myself and learned a helluva lot about network operating systems and callcenters and databases and creating sales reports.

    And I impressed by moving the callcenter servers and network facilities, using myself as the project manager and the operators and sales guys as grunts, to a new floor in the building on four weeks notice and two weeks planning, while the Corp IT department said it would take two months for them to get to it.

    Which meant that, come the inevitable reorg and reassignment, I went to the 'home office department' as a 'tech business analyst'.

    I was there given an impressive and important project, with no budget or resources to work with and at my original salary, of course. It WAS a bank, after all.

    But there came a time when the dept budget cutbacks and doing a 10 level job at a 7 level salary despite my boss giving me great job performance reviews started to chafe at me. Wouldnt have been so bad if I'd actually been able to do my projects, but they and I were treading water until the next fiscal year's budget. Because B1 had screwed IBM-Raleigh one too many times and they were having none of 'lending me stuff'.

    So when my OLD eL/eN boss, now at a division of what we'll call bigWorlddotCom, came after me to help start a new project integration dept at a 50% raise {still way less of a paycheck than the last one he'd signed before} I jumped at it.

    But, as luck would have it, this was as the fiscal scandal storm clouds were gathering around bigWorlddotCom, and it quickly became apparent there would be yet another pink slip.

    Now HERE is where my advice is centered:

    I COULD have gone hat-in-hand back to B1 and they would have been happy to take me back.. it had only been four months. Instead I took a flyer on a start-up in a great new medical services business. I did my due diligence on the genre but not on my new boss - who turned out to be one of those 'budget/seed money leverage types' doomed to be caught and prosecuted, or at least have his ass sued off. You can guess the rest.

    If I had gone back to B1, from everything I know and hear, I'd still be there today.. despite all the relocs and mergers they've gone through.

    Still not making good money, but comfortable. And having some fun at my job.

    If you cant find a job you really like, work for a company you really like. One which will allow you to migrate to a job you really like, OR allows you to dabble on the side with pet projects for them. And which wont force you to move up in position and job function, against your will.
    There's things to be added:
    - There are three elements at work:
    A job you like
    A company you like
    Coworkers you like

    ALWAYS go for two of three. Seldom do you find a situation, right off, where you get all three but working for a company you like, with people you like will, almost always, get you to the third.... a job you like!

    I had started with two of three at B1 and, before that, eL/eN. Got to three quickly at eL/eN, didnt spend enough time at B1 to get the third.. which was 'company I liked'; but was almost there, and I screwed it up.

    If you only work for the money, OR the ego, the 'Peter Principle' will catch up with you. It isnt so much about 'competence', it's about APATHY!

    If you move away and regret it, NEVER be too proud to admit you made a mistake.
    - Assuming the guy rehiring you is worthy of working for, you should be easily forgiven.
    - Go back in with the attitude you've learned something valuable and will make it worthwhile for the company to take you back.
    - But never ease up on doing stuff you REALLY like as a condition of them taking you back.... It's who you are!
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Brilliant advice. Hope people read and digest it.
  3. ChicagoTom

    ChicagoTom Administrator

    Dec 30, 2004
    Petty, great words of wisdom! I am not exactly sure where I fit into your story in terms of my own career, but it will definitely have me thinking about it.
  4. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    By the way.. two points on it:

    I didnt cover 'networking' and cold response in job seeking. I've worked about 15 different places and can only think of three that I didnt 'network' into.... one of them being B1, the other two... unmentioned but were crap!

    Some of the jobs I networked into were pretty much crap, as well... but I was given a much longer leash and time to prove myself or find out I didnt want to work for them.
    I recommend it!

    eh... I forget the second point but it was pretty important.

    That is the important 'other thing'! You made the mistake... not that you found out they were all slime ball idiots.
    This is VERY important... we are all in charge of ourselves. The MOST you should say as an excuse is that you didnt fit into their corporate needs.

    Your ex and again boss will know whether or not you fit into the slot you're applying for. Blaming someone else for your failures is NOT good form. And will make him wonder what you said about him.
  5. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Oh.. the THIRD other 'important thing'.

    And I can tell you exactly why and how cars work, as well. STILL working on 'how girls work'.
  6. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    I know there are people who decide some time in high school what they're going to do forever. They major in all the right things in college, go into their career, do the 40 years and gold watch, and then retire. I know there are people like that, but I don't know many of them.

    Several years ago I was doing a play and overheard two of my fellow actors talking. One said, "Man, I never thought I'd wind up here." 9They were about 30, I guess.] It occurred to me that I was about 5 into a job in a career field that I hadn't known existed SIX years earlier.

    Well, I'm 60 now; I've "retired" twice, and I'm still working, and I still haven't "wound up." Don't know what's coming, but I'm ready.
  7. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Exactly! I didnt remark on details of my 'wonderful trip' from there to here.... but it's ALL about 'following your muse' which IS the point of it.

    And the more I think abou tthis.. the more advice i can add... go back to the OP and look for italics.
  8. FFC24

    FFC24 New Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Really good advice. I loved the post.
  9. JohnnyCash

    JohnnyCash New Member

    Jan 5, 2005
    I miss reading your posts pettyfog. I went down that road last year and traded the cubicle for a chainsaw...thus beginning my fulhamusa exile. I've got a job as a park ranger at Theodore Roosevelt National park in North Dakota now.
  10. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Was wondering how you were doing, JC..

    Good for you. May not be your last change of direction, but you'll profit from it.
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