Driving home late last night from a meeting about an undisclosed topic at an undisclosed placed with a small group of undisclosed people, I started to realize how annoyed I am about my current work situation. Then, I got home and read about Craig's frustration. I thought, "wow, that's timely." Apparently neither one of us are terribly happy right now.

The first and only time I met Craig, we had lunch together right around the time that he was getting Deersoft rolling. Seems like just the other day. He was happy about life, excited about building his new company and their flagship product. After that lunch, I knew good things were in store for him. He was doing the right thing at the right time.

Now that he's been working for Network Associates for a while (they acquired Deersoft a while back), he's increasingly frustrated and annoyed by the environment, politics, and scale of a large organization.

I suspect that what Craig needs to do is get out of NA and take a break. A small one. During that time, he'll figure out what to attack next. He just struck me as the kind of person Silicon Valley needs--the tech entrepreneur with a passion for his idea, product, and potential customers. Working at NA really doesn't allow him to be himself. He's a round peg in a square hole. He's not doing what he'd hoped to be doing. Probably not by a long shot.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with me. In a way, I'm in the same boat. Roughly 4 months ago, I left the job I had been doing for 3 years to move into a different group.

The motivation for doing this was really two fold. First, having been doing mostly the same work in the same group for a while, it was time for a change of pace. New people, ideas, systems, and so on. The second motivation had to do with my own evolution. In the months and weeks leading up to the switch, I had been spending a fair amount of my time working with other groups at the company. They'd come to me for consulting, support, Q&A, and tuning advice for MySQL. In fact, I'd developed a reputation for knowing a bit about MySQL and made it clear that I enjoyed with it and wanted to continue doing so. The folks in Y! Finance were kind enough to let me do this, since it was clearly good for the company while also being good for me.

One of the people involved in convincing me to make the switch to Y! Search told me on a few occasions that the group I'd be moving into "could really use your MySQL expertise" (or something very close to that). That, along with the whole change of scenery/people/etc sealed the deal for me. A new job where I'm "recruited" partly because of the fun I have with MySQL and told there'd be lots more of it. Great.

That was the theory at least. We all know that in theory, practice and theory are the same. But in practice, they're not.

Here we are four months later. As I've looked back over the time, I've thought about the projects I've actually worked on. The other groups I've worked with. The time I've spent doing various things. In the end I realized that little has changed. I'm still using more of my "MySQL expertise" with groups other than my own. I'm still doing the same old support, consulting, troubleshooting, and tuning for other groups that I used to do. The truly MySQL-specific stuff that I've encountered in my new job hasn't been that substantial at all. Aside from the recent full-text search stuff, I really can't think of anything notable.

It's clear to me that as a whole, the company needs my passion for MySQL. And a lot of folks know this. We're using it all over the place and it's continuing to grow.. But the job I'm currently in really doesn't. The job I was doing in Finance probably made more use of it, now that I think about it.

I could get into specifics, but it really wouldn't add much to this one-sided discussion. And, given my luck, it'd just end up pissing off the wrong people anyway.

So where does this leave me? Was I the victim of a bait-and-switch routine? Or maybe the "sales pitch" I got last year was simply a best guess of what they thought they wanted and/or needed at the time? It's hard to say.


Writing about this has helped to clarify things for myself. Craig's post partly got the ball rolling, as did the undisclosed meeting.

I supposed the next step is to figure out who to talk with about this. There are a few other factors involved--very recent development, but they are more speculation at this point. I really don't know what they'll lead to. Perhaps I need to try accelerating that process, if I can.

Posted by jzawodn at March 26, 2003 09:53 AM

Reader Comments
# Alan said:

I would be careful about expressing discontent with my current job in public if I hadn't already talked about it with the guy I was working for. Having said that, I sympathise, I've been in a similar situation. I took a job with a middle sized consulting company in pre-sales. The pitch to me was that pre-sales would be involved in quite a bit of prototyping and experimental-type development work. As it turned out there was very little of that, and after a year or so it became apparent that I was mostly a spreadsheet jockey doing estimates and costings for bids where other people were actually building and showing the software. It was also apparent that there was an opening for a development team leader on one of the bids I was spreadsheet-jockeying for. So I went to the account manager for that project and said "well, you know I know the client and I know the requirements ...", and I went to the pre-sales manager I was working for and said "I'm sorry, and htis is nothing personal, but I just don't feel this job has turned out the way I expected" - and lo and behold, I was back on a real development project earning an honest living again. But that was back in the days when there was a desperate shortage of skills and employers needed to worry about pissing their good people off.

on March 27, 2003 04:34 AM
# Alan said:

more thoughts on the same subject. Have you considered that your expectations for the level of technical challenge in your job might be unrealistically high? In my experience, the level of technical expertise - be it in databases, programming languages or whatever - required on most commercial projects most of the time is pretty mundane. It's an 80:20 thing - if you know a lot about the technology, 20% of your knowledge will usually be enough to get 80% of the job done. If you really want to be exercising the other 80% of your knowldge a lot of the time, maybe what you need is a role as some kind of roving design guru / troubleshooter. I had an interesting couple of years doing that with Ingres a while ago (back when Ingres was still an important database)

on March 27, 2003 04:56 AM
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