That’s what I seem to do. On this day, one year ago, Mary and I were preparing for the arrival of our baby. I had taken one week off of work and would go back to a new job once that leave was over.
I was done having kids. Until this one. I quit a job I had been at for over eleven years. It was scary. It was exciting. These were the best decisions I ever made.
This year I’m doing something similar. Mary and I just married on the 17th and on the 23rd I’ll be leaving the best job I’ve had. It is scary. It is exciting. These may be the best decisions I ever make.
After eleven years at one job things become boring. Some of the job was so rote that I was starting to make stupid mistakes. I wasn’t performing as well as I knew I could or should. I’m also at the age where technical proficiency is coming to its last gasp. I knew if I didn’t start to push myself, I would fall behind.
Taking the job at the National Weather Service pushed me. I knew going in that I didn’t have some of the required skills. I’d never worked on a high traffic website. I’d never worked with some of the networking gear we used. More than that, I’d never worked at such a large organization.
The department I was in was mercifully small and it felt like a small dot-com. The learning curve was dramatic as. I was hired in as the Sr. System Administrator and the previous Sys Admin was gone except for on-call. There was Jr. Admin who was difficult to work with. This was a puzzle.
I had around two hours total with the previous Admin. He sketched out the main pieces. Networks. What servers did what. The basics.
Those first few months were some of the hardest but most rewarding months of my life. Put into the sink-or-swim position, I knew I had to swim.
Learning the networks. Learning to tune Apache and Memcached. Learning to work with developers using agile methods. These were phenomenal experiences.
After a few months there was some reorganization. The little dot-com was swallowed up by a larger piece of the organization. The fast, light, agile methods were replaced with meetings, forms, and authorizations. Release cycles were delayed. Changes were carefully worded so as not to fall under certain controls. It was an exercise in frustration
Tools that should make the life of a Sys Admin easier were implemented in a way that didn’t fit with a modern website. So I found something else and quit.
I’m sad. The mission was noble. The people were great. But I was feeling ineffective. Time was spent mulling over how to get changes made, not making changes.
I’m moving on. I’ll be facing a whole new slew of technologies that I’m rusty on. There will be challenges. There will be legacy systems. There will be resistance.
There will also be learning. Staying relevant in a field that changes fast. New relationships. New contacts.
My last round of “change everything” was driven by a new life. A baby that I needed to support. This change everything is driven my a completion of that family. Marriage, kids, step-kids. All driving me forward. Without them I wouldn’t have made this move. I’ll be forever thankful.