The hell did I do to my career?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    So I was sitting at the bar with a bunch of college buddies this evening. We're all in IT, and all between the ages of 26 and 31. I'm 27, in the "grown up" workforce for 5 years.Got to talking about work, and as a result, I'm having a bit of a confidence crisis.

    These are the descriptions of our current jobs:

    • System architect and implementation tech lead for ~$2BN addressable revenue strategic B2B platform for Fortune 500 company. Indeterminate number (ever-growing) of senior developer direct reports.
    • Reboots servers
    • Twiddles VMWare settings on 4-host VCenter environment. 3 intern level direct reports.
    • Remote site mobile desktop support
    • Outsourced enterprise tech support call center
    • DoD Desktop Support
    • Application support for the little sister to the aforementioned strategic platform (Was: Grocery store clerk, until I referred them into this position)

     

    I'm the guy at the top there. Did I blow somebody and forget about it?  How the crap did I end up with a bunch of people with 20 years of experience reporting to me? Did I get peter principled because I'm just a really, really bad programmer?

    I mean, yeah, it's a high-risk/high-reward position. If this initiative goes well, I'll have a directorship before my 30th birthday. If it doesn't go well, I'm just fucked. There isn't any middle ground.

     

    But the point is that, six months ago I got my first actual direct reports and leadership position. Six months before that I worked my first architecture and design (although nothing nearly this scale). Six months before that, I got the word 'senior' glued to the front of my 'developer' title. Six months before that, I worked my first high-profile project. Twelve months before that, I was a mere mid-level developer. This doesn't feel like a natural career progression to me. Too fast. The only thing that's really changed as far as my personal contribution and outlook is that I've gotten more outspokenly opinionated, sarcastic and cynical.

     

    Bonus: I was wearing the only t-shirt at the table. "I don't always test my code, but when I do, I do it in production".



  • Wow. What a creative way you've found to brag.



  • @Weng said:

    I'm 27

    Really?? Goddamn, stop making me feel old. I figured you were in your 40s or something.. 😞

    @Weng said:

    Did I blow somebody and forget about it?

    Wasn't me. You'd remember blowing me..

    @Weng said:

    But the point is that, six months ago I got my first actual direct reports and leadership position. Six months before that I worked my first architecture and design (although nothing nearly this scale). Six months before that, I got the word 'senior' glued to the front of my 'developer' title. Six months before that, I worked my first high-profile project. Twelve months before that, I was a mere mid-level developer. This doesn't feel like a natural career progression to me. Too fast. The only thing that's really changed as far as my personal contribution and outlook is that I've gotten more outspokenly opinionated, sarcastic and cynical.

    I dunno, maybe you're good? I've changed jobs several times, and several times I have ended up as the boss of the people who hired me.

    Then again, God might be setting you up for a really epic disappointment. It's possible he made a wager with Satan, like in the Book of Job, and is just building you up so that your fall will be all the more tragic. Have you noticed any seraphim spying on you lately?

    @Weng said:

    Bonus: I was wearing the only t-shirt at the table. "I don't always test my code, but when I do, I do it in production".

    Tacky. I've worn button-up shirts and big-boy pants since I was in my early teens. (Nowadays I do wear shorts, but only because I live somewhere so hot and humid that long pants are unbearable.)



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Wow. What a creative way you've found to brag.

    It's like a "humblebrag", but without the humble!

    Edit: I was kind of disappointed, to be honest. Going into it, I figured he was going to be the loser of the group. I don't like stories where people feel good at the end.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Wow. What a creative way you've found to brag.
    Guys, I'm worried about the path my life has taken. I'm only 31, and I already have a solid-gold house and a rocket car. My supermodel wife says sex with me is too amazing; we have to limit it to five times a day so that she doesn't die of exhaustion. She lets me see other women, but most of them are only B-level actresses - rarely an Oscar among them. I recently gained telepathy, which allows me to force people to do my bidding. I'll be President of the Universe next month if my latest initiative works out, which they always do.

    It's all happening too fast. Just six months ago I was a lowly trillionaire. Six months before that I took over China in a bloodless coup. Twelve months before that, I was a successful rock-star-slash-NFL-quarterback, which was six months after I made my first billion playing Russian roulette against Saudi oil sheiks.



  • @bstorer said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Wow. What a creative way you've found to brag.
    Guys, I'm worried about the path my life has taken. I'm only 31, and I already have a solid-gold house and a rocket car. My supermodel wife says sex with me is too amazing; we have to limit it to five times a day so that she doesn't die of exhaustion. She lets me see other women, but most of them are only B-level actresses - rarely an Oscar among them. I recently gained telepathy, which allows me to force people to do my bidding. I'll be President of the Universe next month if my latest initiative works out, which they always do.

    It's all happening too fast. Just six months ago I was a lowly trillionaire. Six months before that I took over China in a bloodless coup. Twelve months before that, I was a successful rock-star-slash-NFL-quarterback, which was six months after I made my first billion playing Russian roulette against Saudi oil sheiks.

    +<3



  • @bstorer said:

    GuysDear TDWTF Forum, I'm worried about the path my life has taken...

    FTFY



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I was kind of disappointed, to be honest. Going into it, I figured he was going to be the loser of the group. I don't like stories where people feel good at the end.

    But this isn't really the end. Also, you haven't heard the story from the point of view of the guys with 20 years experience. This may just be the setup of a front page article coming from one of those guys. I mean, Weng seems like a good guy, so I hope not, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Wow. What a creative way you've found to brag.

    It's like a "humblebrag", but without the humble!

    Edit: I was kind of disappointed, to be honest. Going into it, I figured he was going to be the loser of the group. I don't like stories where people feel good at the end.

    Yeah, I do sound like a complete and total douche. This shit legitimately worries me (as evidenced by the fact that it literally kept me up last night worrying about it.). I'm theoretically capable of doing what I've been tasked with doing, and I've avoided being implicated in any failures to date, but I feel like a fraud for having been asked to do it. Does it make sense? Fuck no, I should be taking this money and running with it.

    I had no aspirations to do any of this, and programmers in this company are supposed to have zero upward mobility. It just doesn't happen because, and I quote one of my better's, "we are not an IT company" (so why the hell are we trying to address a 2 billion dollar market segment that basically involves custom software development?). In my interview, when asked "Where do you see yourself in 10 years" I said something to the effect of "SQL Server 2020 training". Given literally every other promotion that I've seen, 

     

    Existential angst aside, the biggest practical problem is that if I try to go anywhere else (say this whole thing blows up in our faces because of changing government regulations - which is an actual documented risk with a very real percentage chance attached to it), my chances of being taken seriously are practically nil.They're going to look at my resume, see "Really, really big company", see that I used to work for a living and then a string of increasingly absurd promotions happened. They'll then apply their hard-won knowledge of how big business works - up to the director level, you literally fail yourself upwards. After that, it becomes a matter of who you play golf with, and whose secretary you screw. Since I'm not at that level, I must be failing upwards. And hard.

    In terms of scope to our business, this is like if Microsoft tapped the guy who conceptualized, designed and built the mouseover-the-taskbar screen preview widget in Windows 7 (which is a tiny but well liked feature that nobody talks about because it's sufficiently good and noncontroversial) to head the Windows 9 initiative (which is a giant, corporate-level redemption story after the utter PR disaster that was Windows 8). It makes sense if you've got an idealized meritocracy model for business, rather than the complete and total shitshow that it actually is.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    But this isn't really the end. Also, you haven't heard the story from the point of view of the guys with 20 years experience. This may just be the setup of a front page article coming from one of those guys. I mean, Weng seems like a good guy, so I hope not, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
    Yep. worry about that one too.



  •  At 27 you are going to be directory. That's well worth getting congratulations! We are still knee deep in trenches and I am not that much younger than you.



  • @Weng said:

    Yeah, I do sound like a complete and total douche.

    Whoa... is this... is this "self-awareness?" Of course if you were both self-aware and not a sociopath, you might add, "sorry about that, guys" after that sentence, but hey I'll take what I get.

    Besides it brings back some of the CPUWizard "hey guys my company is in New York and it does great and Intel sends me prototype chips only they and God have seen" kind of blatant bragging to the board and we were missing that.

    @Weng said:

    I had no aspirations to do any of this,

    Then don't do it.

    @Weng said:

    and programmers in this company are supposed to have zero upward mobility.

    Then why do you work there?

    It sounds more likely they don't understand IT whatsoever and they suddenly needed more high-level IT management, and they rolled a dice and it was you. Not to say your merit doesn't play into that. (They again that also doesn't say you were somehow more qualified than anybody else on your original team.) Probably your most relevant qualification is that you spout "enterprise" nonsense just as good as any of the C**s in your company. (Seriously, man, what real software developer would type "tech lead for ~$2BN addressable revenue strategic B2B platform for Fortune 500 company". None. None software developers would.)

    Why don't you just talk to whoever your manager is now and ask them what's up? You know, communicate to the person most relevant to the problem. Like a grown-up would do. Might work better than coming here. And if you can't talk to your own companies management structure and solve your own problems, then you definitely do not belong in that position and might as well go scrub some toilets.

    @Weng said:

    Given literally every other promotion that I've seen,

    Ooo, ooo, guys he's doing that anticipation joke, he'll come back to this thread in 5 years to complete that sentence!!!

    @Weng said:

    They're going to look at my resume, see "Really, really big company", see that I used to work for a living and then a string of increasingly absurd promotions happened.

    That could work for or against you. Once you go full-management (regardless of your job title), you can't go back. If that's what you want, fine. If not, then talk to your current employers about getting a job title that doesn't eliminate the possibility of doing actual work. (There's that "talk to people who can help you" thing again! What a crazy concept that is.)

    @Weng said:

    In terms of scope to our business, this is like if Microsoft tapped the guy who conceptualized, designed and built the mouseover-the-taskbar screen preview widget in Windows 7

    That was part of Aero, in Windows Vista. And the ability to thumbnail an application's window to an arbitrary size in real-time is actually pretty fucking sophisticated and took a shitload of work. The same code runs the Flip 3D applicaton switcher thing. (Which I think they got rid of in 7 actually.) Anyway, point is: if you conceptualized, designed, and built fucking Aero, your Microsoft job is pretty fucking safe.

    @Weng said:

    to head the Windows 9 initiative (which is a giant, corporate-level redemption story after the utter PR disaster that was Windows 8).

    Your terribly-picked example has ruined your analogy.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat said:

    The same code runs the Flip 3D applicaton switcher thing. (Which I think they got rid of in 7 actually.)

    I run 7, I still have it. They killed it for 8.



  • Weng I just solved your problem while in the shower, where I do my best thinking.

    Since you're a sociopathic braggart, Hire me (240k, 250k, we'll talk) to follow you around to executive meetings and periodically whisper in your ear, "Caesar, thou art mortal". We can make a whole program out of it, do the lecture circuit and everything-- the Shakespearian Solution we'll call it. Bam. Start working on the book deal.



  • @Weng said:

    Yeah, I do sound like a complete and total douche.

    Eh, I wouldn't worry about it. You seem like a good guy, I just thought it was a bit amusing. And pstorer's impression was hilarious.

    As for your actual problem: I think Blakey's idea might have merit (the talking to your boss thing, not the hiring him to whisper in your ear.)* Then again, nothing can pop a B.S. management bubble faster than giving the impression you lack confidence, so I dunno.

    Even if this falls through, you can always go back to being an engineer. It's not like you've spent 15 years climbing your way up middle management. If you've done coding recently and can still code, I don't think you'll have a problem finding a job.


    (*This sentence is one I never expected to type..)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Whoa... is this... is this "self-awareness?" Of course if you were both self-aware and not a sociopath, you might add, "sorry about that, guys" after that sentence, but hey I'll take what I get.
    I'm self aware, not an actor.

     @blakeyrat said:

    Then why do you work there?
    Because I was in danger of going broke freelancing and they were the first to tell the contracting firm 'yes'. And then I was dumb enough to go through with the contract-to-hire conversion. Ever since then, it's just been a matter of 'no recruiters are making better offers, and I have no reason to actively leave'.

     @blakeyrat said:

    Seriously, man, what real software developer would type "tech lead for ~$2BN addressable revenue strategic B2B platform for Fortune 500 company". None. None software developers would.
    Yeah. That particular skill started as cynical parody of shit I plucked out of Powerpoints, and then I started using it in conversation with my direct managers, who apparently missed the sarcasm and cynicism.

     @blakeyrat said:

    Why don't you just talk to whoever your manager is now and ask them what's up?
    Primarily because I'm not sure who the fuck that is. The guy who approves my time off is now responsible for a subcomponent of the system I'm responsible for and takes direction from me. The guy I take day-to-day direction from is... uh, well, there's a group of about 3 of us who are nominally in charge of various aspects of this whole damned thing, and we just work it out by committee. So basically, nobody. The guy who feeds edicts to the committe and attempts to micromanage everyone down to the lowliest coffee intern is a total jackass with the "Senior Executive VP".  Given this whole thing is his baby, talking to him about it would be suicide. I will have some words about it with the guys who used to be my management structure (and word is, that part of the company likely to snatch this thing back from the micromanaging maniac if it succeeds), because they actually don't suck at the whole managing thing. That's actually reasonable in that it also lets me lay the groundwork for a good punch-out strategy. If this whole thing goes tits up, there are plenty of other systems in their part of the world that I could fall back into engineering.

     

     Edit: FUCKING CHRIST COMMUNITY SERVER SUCKS SHIT. Since when does the Quote button occasionally equal the Post button!?

     @blakeyrat said:

    That was part of Aero, in Windows Vista. And the ability to thumbnail an application's window to an arbitrary size in real-time is actually pretty fucking sophisticated and took a shitload of work.
    Huh. I forgot Vista existed. I stand corrected. Let me try that again.

    In terms of scope to our business, this is like if Microsoft tapped the guy who conceptualized, designed and built the revised taskmanager in Windows 8 (which is generally regarded as an actually quite nice feature) to head the Windows 9 initiative (which is a giant, corporate-level
    redemption story after the utter PR disaster that was the entire rest of Windows 8).

     



  • @Weng said:

    Yeah. That particular skill started as cynical parody of shit I plucked out of Powerpoints, and then I started using it in conversation with my direct managers, who apparently missed the sarcasm and cynicism.

    I do not believe you.

    @Weng said:

    The guy who feeds edicts to the committe and attempts to micromanage everyone down to the lowliest coffee intern is a total jackass with the "Senior Executive VP". Given this whole thing is his baby, talking to him about it would be suicide.

    Why?

    @Weng said:

    Huh. I forgot Vista existed. I stand corrected. Let me try that again.

    You are not qualified to clean the toilets in this industry.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    You are not qualified to clean the toilets in this industry.

    Regular toilets? Or those fancy Japanese toilets that sing to you while you do your business? Because those Japanese toilets are pretty sophisticated.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Because those Japanese toilets are pretty sophisticated.
    What other country feels a need to give toilets a control console? (At least there's nothing marked “Up periscope!” Or I hope not; I didn't dare press anything, just in case.)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    You are not qualified to clean the toilets in this industry.

    Regular toilets? Or those fancy Japanese toilets that sing to you while you do your business? Because those Japanese toilets are pretty sophisticated.




  • @Weng said:

     Edit: FUCKING CHRIST COMMUNITY SERVER SUCKS SHIT. Since when does the Quote button occasionally equal the Post button!?
     

    Before the JS loads and hijacks its click event, it's just a regular button-button that submits the form it's in.



  • @joe.edwards said:

    boner noise



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    boner noise
     

    Boners are silent, like a ninja in the night.



  • @dhromed said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    boner noise
     

    Boners are silent, like a ninja in the night.

    I'm going to trust dhromed on this one because he collects them.



  • @dhromed said:

    Boners are silent, like a ninja in the night.

    You should really see a doctor. They have a pill for that now.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @dhromed said:
    Boners are silent, like a ninja in the night.

    You should really see a doctor. They have a pill for that now.

    I wonder if there's an app for that...



  • @Ben L. said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    @dhromed said:
    Boners are silent, like a ninja in the night.

    You should really see a doctor. They have a pill for that now.

    I wonder if there's an app for that...

     

     

    If there is not one, you should write one.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Even if this falls through, you can always go back to being an engineer. It's not like you've spent 15 years climbing your way up middle management. If you've done coding recently and can still code, I don't think you'll have a problem finding a job.
    Spoken like someone who's been listening to the career counselors.  They go on and on about "transferable skill sets" and how having one job doesn't mean your future jobs always have to be along that same career trajectory, blithely oblivious to the fact that HR departments will take one look at the OP's resume, see a management position, determine therefrom that you're not a good fit for the engineer spot, and "correct" your application to the very job you're trying to leave behind.



  • @da Doctah said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Even if this falls through, you can always go back to being an engineer. It's not like you've spent 15 years climbing your way up middle management. If you've done coding recently and can still code, I don't think you'll have a problem finding a job.
    Spoken like someone who's been listening to the career counselors.  They go on and on about "transferable skill sets" and how having one job doesn't mean your future jobs always have to be along that same career trajectory, blithely oblivious to the fact that HR departments will take one look at the OP's resume, see a management position, determine therefrom that you're not a good fit for the engineer spot, and "correct" your application to the very job you're trying to leave behind.

    What? Where did all of that come from? For one, not every job in the world exists at an IBM or an EMC with a monolithic HR department.

    For two, he could just as easily downplay the management aspect of his position. As I said, he's not been doing it for 15 years, so it makes it a little easier to gloss over.


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