Going With Your Instincts

Nearly two years ago, I went through an incident that was at the time unexpected, but because of my good relationship wtih the folks at Magenic, it really didn't impact me for a prolonged period of time. To be honest, it never affected me as much as it could have as I was able to jump right back into the thick of things, doing the thing I had really missed doing: real-world development and all of the issues, pressures, intricacies, and rewards that it entails. However, I always knew I'd want to close out the whole incident by sharing what I've learned from the experience, but I think by letting it go for so long, I've been able to get a better perspective of it. What I mean by that is this: it's no longer important to me to learn what happened to cause the incident, but how it could've been prevented in the first place.

If you haven't figured out yet what I'm getting at, it's this: I was fired from my former employer. To say it was a jolt to the system was an understatement. I have never been fired from a job before [1], and I've always received good reviews from every job I've ever had. That doesn't mean I think I'm all that and a bag of chips, but I've always tried hard to be as successful as I could be at a job. Fortunately, I didn't sit on my ass for very long - in fact, as soon as I walked out the door I was on the phone with Magenic's wonderful recruiter, Carole, as I was driving home. It was actually great timing as they were looking for a .NET developer to fill a position for a big ASP.NET project. Within a week, everything was finalized, and I was welcomed back through Magenic's doors. The first gig was 4 months long, and it was 50% travel to California, which in retrospect was a good thing as it kept my mind off of the firing.

That said, every so often my mind would go back on the 6 months I was with the former employer and why things went so wrong. Furthermore, things were complicated by the fact that I was still writing two books with two of their employees. I got confirmation from both of them that the would still go through with their end of the deal to write their chunk of the material, but unfortunately one of them backed out. This really angered me, so I decided to forget the entire experience and focus on my job and my family. Yet I still occasionally struggled with what had happened, and I would go through all of the events that went on during my employment with them. The biggest issue I had was, what did I do (or not do) that was so unacceptable to the company? Yet the more I thought about it, the less important it became to understand what really went on. Granted, I think there were some things I could've done better, but after a while it became clear to me what the mistake was: I should've never left Magenic in the first place.

When I left Magenic during the summer of 2002, I really didn't enjoy where I was at with my job. I was doing maintenance work on an ASP application with the server-side code written in J++. After a while, I was getting bored with the work, and I was already starting work on two .NET books, so I was eager to start developing in .NET. However, it became clear that I was billing, and that was the most important thing. In other words, I wasn't going anywhere for a long time. Being stuck in what looked like a dead-end gig, I decided to look elsewhere. Because I wanted out, I saw things in a different light when I went though the interviewing process. In retrospect, there were things I was picking up on that my gut was telling me, "Jason, you really shouldn't go here." But I wanted out, so I got out when I was offered the job. But it clearly a mistake. I won't go into any details as I feel it's simply not worth it for many reasons, but it was obvious I didn't fit it. So I tried to change who I was to fit it to the culture, but you simply can't do that for an extended period of time. Looking back on the whole ordeal, I was fooling myself. I was depressed. I really didn't like to teach for a living, but I was trying so hard to make it work. The time I was consulting was enjoyable as real-world experience always teaches me more than any class could, but I made things worse by trying to be an instructor full-time. Big mistake. I was in hell, and I didn't know it. Teaching the same basic Java course over and over was even worse than maintaining a J++ application. One of few regrets I have is not ending things myself earlier. Looking back on the whole experience, I'm surpised I put up with things as long as I did. I really did not like what I was doing, and I was miserable when I was coming home. But I didn't like to fail, either, so I pushed myself to succeed. However, there's no way you can succeed in those circumstances.

So why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I feel like I have a good view of the experience, and I want to help others grow and succeed in their careers and their lives. It all comes down to this: Be honest with yourself and who you are. Don't change your personality for anyone. Try to find a company where you can be who you are. If you're thinking of changing your place of employment, make sure you've thought it through - what's the real reason you want to leave? Could it be made better if you talked to others within your current employer? Do you really enjoy the people you work with? Just be completely true to yourself. What may seem like a better deal on the outside may not be a good fit for you once you try it on. And remember not to burn bridges - you never know when you'll need to go back and walk across it again :). If I would've went with my instincts, I may never have left Magenic in the first place, but what's done is done. I really like working for Magenic, and I have no desire to leave. I've learned a hard lesson, but the key word there is, "learned."

[1] I got close when I was 16, because I refused to cut my hair for my employer. So I quit. The funny thing was that my boss was fired the next week and replaced by a guy who looked like your stereotypical Harley biker: big beard and long hair. Oh, well - you can't win 'em all!

* Posted at 09.24.2004 08:32:56 PM CST | Link *

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