A New Job – Part 2

Originally written August 24, 2009

From what I’ve understood so far, having had only one phone call with my potential new boss, where I suspect he wanted to get to know me as much as I wanted to get to know the job, the position with MS is one where technical skills are important — but where soft skills are just as much so. The job title is Developer and Platform Evangelist, and it involves a lot of communicating. Programmers aren’t typically stereotyped as good communicators: good thinkers, good problem solvers, good implementers, sure. But us computer engineering types aren’t often thought of as being smooth operators or slick sales people.

Fortunately the job is not exactly sales. I don’t think I’m built for hard driving sales, but I do enjoy communicating. Especially about technology. I love presenting to an audience. I love walking into a room full of smart people, and talking about ideas and strategies. I just don’t want a job where I’m expected to pressure people into buying things they don’t need.

Which is good, because this position is working with existing relationships. There’s no cold calling, or high pressure sales. These are existing partners looking to find the best supporting technologies for the products or solutions they develop. And they’re all solid companies who are already technology leaders in their marketplaces. From what I understand, the DPE position is about aligning the strategies of MS and their partners. Exchanging ideas, positioning solutions and timing, and figuring out what’s best for their users — who are, in turn, MS’ users as well.

The challenge then is, as I said before, to get out from behind the desk and focus less on the code and more on the people making decisions. I’ve had a number of opportunities to try that out, having presented to, and interacted with, customers a lot during my career. I believe that I’m capable of things aside from coding, and I think that God gave me other skills that He intends for me to develop and learn.
I’m aware that if I get this job, I’ll be somewhat starting fresh. This isn’t like previous jobs, which were logical next steps in my growth as a developer, and where my previously developed solutions and ideas were directly applicable to a new team or product. I would need to be more teachable, more humble, and more willing to push myself in new directions than I have since I first started my professional career a decade ago. But its what I want. I don’t want to be too comfortable in a job, I don’t want to reach the Peter Principle point where I can’t grow any more.

So yesterday MS contacted me to ask for 5 dates that I’d be available to fly out to the Seattle area — Head Quarters — for a day full of interviews. Nicole and I talked them out, and I replied back. They promised that within about 48 hours I’d hear back about which of those days will be my date with destiny.

Whether I get the job or not is up to God and the team there. I think I’m being realistic in my confidence that my technical skills are sufficient for the task, and I’m somewhat confident that my soft skills, although probably in need of growth and refining, make me a good candidate for the position. My resume is no slouch, and I have some great references. So I’m going to show up in a sharp new suit, appreciative of the opportunity and excited to be there, and speak honestly about my experience and passions, and hopefully find out if I’ve found a new place to grow…