One Year On The Job

As of yesterday, I’ve spent a year at a small company I discreetly refer to as Medishack on the Internet. With BigHugeCo, I could be a little more open with what I said. They’re a Fortune 500 company, so anything snarky on my part that anyone might notice could be blown off as long as I wasn’t too obvious about BigHugeCo’s true identity. Not so Medishack, which has about 100 employees. But that’s okay. It’s good to keep your writing and your day job separate.

Still, it’s been a year since I started at this company, and not a moment too soon.

I got laid off from BigHugeCo in the summer of 2010. I’m still not too upset over it. I worked there 11 years and got a paid summer vacation out of it. If I’d have known Large Hospital Chain (TM) had no clue how to run their IT department, I’d have taken a full month off. But unlike too many people I met in my wanderings after becoming an unemployment statistic, I dove right back into the job market, looking for permanent work and taking contract positions. Still, after another hospital IT job, a system upgrade at another Fortune 500 company, and moving a dying airline, the contracts ran out. I was, for the first time in years, on unemployment. Bag boys were suddenly making more than me.

Part of the problem was that the end of my last contract came the week of New Year’s Eve. Hiring managers generally are scarce a few days before Christmas until a week after the new year. After that, they’re slogging through whatever’s piled up on their desk while they were out. So the contracts and the full time positions are nonexistent until about mid-January. So I did what you do on unemployment: I checked CareerBuilder and Monster and Dice. I cleaned house. I sat around in my boxers and watched James Bond movies. For two weeks, I wondered if I’d ever find another IT job or if I was going to have to suck it up and take a factory job working nights while I hunted for work days.

A couple of weeks in, I started to get calls about jobs, and not just desktop support, either. A contracting firm called me about a law firm needing someone to do SQL Server work. A second one wanted to see if I’d really learned anything in my .Net programming classes. An accounting firm across the street from one of BigHugeCo’s downtown buildings called to see if I had any interest in learning Sharepoint while I fixed their computers. All of these held promise, but it was a phone call from a manager I used to work with at BigHugeCo that piqued my interest.

I got the call in late January. I wasn’t sure if it was a job interview or if Bill just wanted to pick my brain. So I agreed to lunch at Camp Washington Chili (a good halfway point). We met, and Bill showed me some database stuff I did not know was possible. He asked if I’d like to talk to his company about a dual role. I needed seasoning as a programmer. They needed a desktop guy but couldn’t afford a full-time one. Would I want to do both? Would I? Well, other than chasing down rare showings of Licence to Kill and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, I didn’t have a lot on my agenda for the next couple of weeks.

I went in, relaxed (partly because the accounting firm seemed pretty interested), and just talked shop. I felt good, went home, watched Goldfinger. (Cracked up everytime Sean Connery purred “Pussy.”) I felt good.

Then things really got strange. I interviewed at one of BigHugeCo’s competitors. Cincinnati State got me an interview with a startup, only I didn’t trust my skills with that particular platform. I dreaded that interview. I didn’t want to drive way the hell up by King’s Island to get shot down. Two hours before the interview, Bill called. “Can you start Monday?” Could I? I asked the salary. It was my old salary at BigHugeCo, a bit high for a desktop support guy, reasonable for a neophyte programmer. I jumped on it and canceled the other interview.

That night, Nita said it felt like the real me had returned.

I couldn’t agree more. And I have never been happier at a day job.

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One thought on “One Year On The Job

  1. Good for you, JIm. I remember my year in the wilderness when the dot coms busted. I eventually took a job with a friend’s small company, completely out of the field, and he kept me afloat for three years. Right about the time I wondered if this would be my new permanent career, I got to choose between two job offers, bother for about as much money as I’d made before the bust.

    People tend to forget, just because things get unexpectedly bad doesn’t mean they won’t also get unexpectedly good one day. You just have to do what you can to hang in until they do.

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