Originally written: August 22, 2009
So I’m not sure if these posts will ever see the light of day. But we’re in the middle of a process now — one I, frustratingly, can’t really talk about — so I figured I’d blog as catharsis, and if everything works out, I’ll push the posts live for posterity, etc…
4 years ago, just as I was accepting my current job, a representative from a large software company, lets call them MS, contacted me, saying they’d reviewed the resume I’d submitted to them months ago, and were interested in interviewing me for a position on their Office development team. Aside from being flattered and honored that I’d been deemed worth their attention, I was also chagrined — knowing that there was no way I could pursue the opportunity. The deal with my current employer, lets call them The General, was verbally agreed to, the paper copy en-route, and MS’ interview process for engineering is fabled for its length and meticulousness. I could maybe delay the decision with The General by a week, max — but definitely not by the months it would take to find out if I was going to make it onto the Office team.
So I declined the interview, with some regret. Don’t get me wrong, the opportunity with The General was an incredible and exciting one. One that would significantly strengthen my resume, push my skills, and provide Nicole and I with an amazing adventure in moving to the States. But it would have been pretty stinkin’ awesome to have MS on my resume too!
But, the decision was made, there was really no looking back. A few short weeks later and the whirlwind of activity associated with the job and the big move began, and for the next months it was all about learning the company, dealing with immigration, and building a new home.
Since January of 2006 I’ve worked for probably the smallest division of the largest company in the world. On the software side of things, where I’ve been working, we produce applications that help manufacturers improve the efficiency of their plant floor operations, by controlling machines, gathering data, and analyzing product quality. There are days where the work is fascinating, and there are days where it can be dull — like most jobs, I imagine. But I have no complaints: I’m treated well, its a good company, with good leaders and good customers, and we’re developing some great products.
My favorite part of my job, though, has always been working with customers: understanding their needs, looking at their workflow and brainstorming ways to improve, then sharing with them technologies that can help with their pain points — being involved in developing those technologies is fun, but not so fun as hearing or seeing the satisfaction of delivering a working solution. That “ah ha!” moment when they realise their life is going to be better now, because someone actually listened and understood what they were asking for.
Engineering (“developing”, if you’re in Canada) should be about the customer — the user. About delivering solutions to their problems, not just making cool toys. Sometimes, as a geek behind a desk, you lose track of that. For the last little while, I’ve felt more and more like I need to get out from behind the desk — that maybe I’ve gone as far from there as I can.
I am a competent developer — far from the best there is, but not an imbecile either. I’ve had moments of brilliance, moments of averageness, and moments when, upon reviewing my code, I realise I could have done a lot better. And the pursuit of being and doing better has been a thrilling one. Finding a better, simpler, more elegant solution to a problem definitely excites me. But I’ve been doing that for 10 years, and I really am ready for a different angle. So when an old friend, boss and mentor called me up to tell me about an opportunity he’d just learned of at MS — one that he felt would be a good fit for me — I was intrigued enough to explore it.
We were not eager to move again, though!
4 years ago, moving to New York for a job was a no-brainer. Now, with 2 kids — both really still babies — and our first house that we’d only recently moved into, the thought of moving back to the States, and across the continent, was terrifying. We desire to be obedient to God’s direction in our lives, so if He said “Go” we would have gone. But we were awful intimidated by that possibility. Fortunately, we found out up front that relocation was not an option for this position. And with that hurdle passed, we felt convinced that this was something I/we had to pursue to whatever end came of it…