Reflections

Earlier, I was talking with the HR director that tried to recruit me a few months ago. I’d jump if the stars aligned. <shrug /> We’ll see.

I ran into a co-worked from my last org. He said they needed programmers, especially with my skills on his current program. There are 5 agile teams working on this program. One is US-based so no late night calls with India. Plus he followed the VBD model for a big chunk of it so I know exactly what I’d be getting into and the team would have someone with years of experience in this pattern. I think he will send me the internal req number next week. Another option.

My wife was talking about an old program I wanted to write to manage payments around employee benefits. It’s not a new idea but I think I could write something better that everything she has ever seen in her work with Health Law and Employee Benefits. One of her law clients is very frustrated with their current service provider. Again. They are afraid the next provider will be as bad as the last one. She thinks I can assuage their troubled minds. 😉

I have options. It’s all about what I chose to do. I can chose and change my mind later. I’m rather tire (aka frustrated) with the megacorp organization. It’s just not any fun. No flexibility of tooling or methodology. I understand why. Most programmers suck. It’s simply a law of averages. A significant number of projects in my current org are all about gold stars and not delivering value to the team or our customers. Every week, there is some another presentation on some new tool. Every single time, while everyone else is praising the team, I silently ask “Why?’ Why did you spend months and thousands of dollars on something that does nothing to improve my team’s ability to function. You want faster turn around and better defect detection, then how about someone simply walk into my validation lab and ask the team what they need? Your unified hardware tooling doesn’t fit the size of my non-ATX chassis. So… Why did we do that? Why haven’t we gotten upgraded first-tier infrastructure support instead of your gold star that adds zero value to my program? Throw in hiring models where no one wants to be outshined by their peers or direct reports… It just makes a corporate environment frustrating for someone that thrives on concrete solving problems.

Anyway…

This week, I was reading about the global impacts of the massive shortage of software developers. I’m not surprised. Society doesn’t seem to value the skills required to do this kind of work. It’s not about being book smart. It’s about shedding the dogma of our teachers/peers/society and taking a chance to learn something new. This work requires a different kind of mental ability. I have to learn, forget, and relearn new patterns, language features, and platforms at a continuous pace. I was taught this industry goes through significant changes about every 8 years. The pattern is holding. We are emerging from the open source, RAD efforts to a time of containerization, distributed computing and ubiquitous cloud infrastructure. Quantum computing will cause even more changes.

Change is the only constant.

I have said this many times, we are the dark lords of this age. Programmers run this world. Nothing functions without softwar these days. Recent cyber attacks have proven that. Companies are beholden to programmers. We access the data. We convert it into information. We link supply chains and digital shopping carts.

Yet. There aren’t enough of us.

Why?

It’s not much fun being a corporate programmer. The work in OK. The politics aren’t. I love writing code. I love teaching my peers how to do thing better, faster, simpler than what they believed was possible before. I enjoy turning around failing projects and building a team up to a level they didn’t think was possible. That is what I’m passionate about. Office politics and corporate infighting are not on that list.

I suppose COVID has shown us a different perspective on what’s important. Gone are the days when a business can require staff to be onsite all the time. I don’t know if I will ever have a fulltime desk in the office again. I’m not opposed to going into the office. I simply don’t see the benefit to being there all day, every day. Design sessions work better when everyone is in the same room. But programminggisolitary activity.

My current role isn’t as much fun. I think it has more to do culture of the organization. Our director believes in giving people too much work just to see how they preform. My program is under-funded and under-resourced. The former program lead who manages all of the PMs working on my platform, created a flawed model. The rumor mill said he always worked that way and managed to get away with it. I think it has more to do with his upcoming retirement. He knew he wouldn’t be around to deal with the mess he created. He even left before he could take his last 8 week sabbatical. That doesn’t make much sense, to walk away from another 8 weeks of vacation time and benefits, unless you knew you were leaving a burning building.

So I’m looking to make a change. I am not allowed to transfer internally until I finish 12 months in my position. That’s not something I am willing to do. I need to find a new challenge. A new team. A new company. I have no illusions about the grass being greener. But maybe I can find a place where I can enjoy my work and feel like the organization cares about the success of my entire program. At least enough to fill all of the open positions and close my funding gaps. I am sure COVID is factoring into my thinking. My group lost 5 people in India to COVID. I have had teammates spend weeks caring for sick family members. I have been lucky. I live in a bubble. I can work from home and only venture out to do things I want to do. I have my groceries delivered and Amazon brings the rest. I got my vaccine shots fairly early in the cycle, so I have been mobile for several month. I still stay close to home because work takes up all of my time.