Thursday, 24 March 2011

New vista

    I am beginning to appreciate the difference between the small companies I have worked for over most of the last two decades, and the very large one at which I have been working for the last six months.
    As a dotcom survivor I've had a chequered career. My full CV would run to several pages, such is the number of places I've earned a living. Most of them are no longer in business, one gave me the sack due to personal differences - the boss was a semi-criminal arsehole who IIRC was later barred from holding a directorship - and one had to let me go abruptly as a financial crisis threatened the very survival of the business. That last one was particularly bitter-sweet as I was and still am part-owner of the company so you might say I had in part to make myself redundant. Even the large companies I've worked for, among them one of the largest companies in the world whose products you and I all use, have not fully equipped me for life as a staffer because I was employed by them as a contractor, a specialist on a fixed-term contract.
    Regular readers of this blog will notice that my output has reduced of late. This has two causes: the girl has been  rather noisy causing me some sleep issues, and I've been throwing myself into maintaining my performance in the workplace. I'm out to some extent at work and work is trans-friendly, but I don't want the girl to hinder me there.
    I now find myself in an unusual position for someone at mid-life. Most people have at this stage set out the path of their careers. They spent their twenties learning their craft and by the time they reach my age their course is set, if a field-marshal's baton is lurking in their knapsack then it has had plenty of time to show itself. My contemporaries are mostly at this stage in life, they are mostly occupying the same offices that they did five years ago. My career though has been a little different. In tiny companies the prospects for advancement are often meagre. In an office with five people in it it is simply not possible to promote them all (One previous employer of mine seemed intent on bucking the trend with six directors, three senior managers and two employees, but they really *were* a bunch of nutters!). Thus in the world of small tech companies if you want to move up, you move on or risk being seen as a sucker willing to toil forever for a pittance to pay for the founder's second home and company Jag. No real problem with that, those are The Rules in that arena.
    But I've left that all behind by moving into a large organisation. My extensive experience of new workplaces has taught me that it takes six months to really get the measure of a place. The masks slip and you see what really lies beneath. In the case of this place what I see is rather interesting. For the first time in my career, I have Prospects. There is a career path open to me if I am prepared to jump through the hoops, and I am anxious to take it. It's a new experience, the feeling that a job might just be for life.


  1. Maybe this is fate Jenny, I mean having done the course and dabbled in all sorts of things there comes a time when you get either bored with it all or you simply wish to just receive a regular income, a kind of security thing. This job you talk about seems to fit the bill with the likelyhood of it being permanent. I have no idea of your age but I would be considering such a post if I was approaching say 50 and in the same position. As it is though, I remain self-employed even now at 65 because i like the freedom to please myself. I hope you make the right decision one way or another. Love

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. I've done small companies that were insane (sandwich year at Uni until 6 months after finishing). It was insane, but so much fun.

    I've worked for small start-ups at the right time (from interviewing for a position as a lowly consultant to being offered the job of development manager for a large project in the space of a 1.5 hour interview). It was a roller coaster until the company went bankrupt (not from my project I hasten to add!)

    And I've worked for international companies that were not much more than bean counters - where everyone was a resource rather than a person. They were fine for a short while, but I was never happy for long.

    I'm now settled into a job where I hope in another 5 years I'm still enjoying doing what I do - the job is interesting, there is enough insanity to keep it interesting (and occasionally damn annoying!). Growth I'm not sure about. I've gone from Senior .Net Developer to project manager / team lead and as long as my boss does not quit there is not really any further I can go. but as long as it pays OK and it's fun I can live with that.

    It's great when you get the feeling that you belong and that there is stuff you can do to improve the running of the company.



  3. I think if I had a stable trade I'd happily have stayed a freelancer a few years ago. But sadly my little piece of the tech trade is a bit too turbulent for that. I relish the stability.
    I've not quite reached that age yet. Child of the seventies, me :)
    My generation will work until we're seventy to get a pension so I'm happy to accept that.
    Feeling of belonging puts the finger on it.

  4. novel! (to think - i am excited at the moment because my part time job pays me even if i haven't filled in my timesheet! INCREDIBLE!)

  5. I find you appreciate these things most when you've been without them :)

  6. What a wonderful, feel-good, post, Jenny. It sounds like you are content with your current employer and that's a good thing.

    Calie xxx

  7. Thanks! All I can say is, long may it last!