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New Horizons

Okay, truth is, I’ve been putting this blog post off for awhile. Honest, I’m a pretty chill guy, but I just don’t know how to blog this without making someone look like an ass — I have to say, even after almost two months, I’m still pretty damn bitter about the whole ordeal.

Well, kids are in bed, wifey is snoozing, and it’s just me, some Jazz, a grilled cheese, and some almond milk. I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll roll it back a bit.

A few months back I wrote a post about shifting to the support team and being a lead over there. I seen the need, and quite honestly wasn’t expecting to fully move and moreover just help out a bit and get some structure going.

For a few weeks after that post, a lot happened, and in retrospect, I probably should’ve yelled ‘uncle’ a lot sooner. Hell, it might have saved my sanity, and my job. Yea, you read that right, I no longer work there, but keep reading…

Right after that post things were getting rough, with every new year came new change, some more abruptly than others, people came, people left, it’s what I used to call the yearly churn. You know what, part of me wants to take this post and just slam how crappy everything went down… but I’m better than that… there’s just no sugar-coating it, things were really rough.

A lot of the leadership was working late hours, people were stressed out, but things needed done, and clients needed to stay happy. What I failed to consider, was my own happiness — or even being able to step WAY back and look at everything from a higher point of view. My goal of being there was to make a change, yet others were dictating to me, how that should happen, I never really made the decisions, I merely followed along — nudging others on best practices etc… I was so caught up in the middle of the muck, I just couldn’t stop and think.

Moving to a leadership position a couple years ago was quite jolting for me, one of my friends had left, and I was asked to take his place. Knowing it was going to be a challenge, I happily accepted just so I could get a glimpse of what went on behind closed doors, and maybe make it better for a lot of people. And for the longest time, I did, we had some great times…

It wasn’t until this rough time, that I really realized… I didn’t want to lead, or at least, I didn’t want that 40 hour call week on my calendar. I think at one point I was juggling at least 5-6 projects, none of which I was coding on… none… Like how was I supposed to call myself a developer if I forgot the simplest of things…

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping to inform and or make decisions for a team, but when it boiled down to it, I was more of a client consultant. I was someone who informed the client on what we could do, why, how, and why our solution was the best. As a high-level leader ( in most all web agencies ) your daily tasks are estimates, client calls, team meetings, and more meetings… at least in my experience.

That’s not something I wanted to do anymore. My brain was to the point of exhaustion at the end of every day. I wanted nothing more than to play games, and go to bed. I had no drive for coding, my wife notice multiple times I was overly stressed… I mean I’ve never cried over a freggin’ job so much…

So what changed? Well as the new year rounded the corner, new positions were created and people began to assume their role. One of those was now… my new boss, the director of engineering. Overall I really like the guy, on a personal level, he’s pretty cool. I get it, as a company grows, so does it’s structure, and with that, new responsibilities.

Given my amount of stress, handling clients, losing people, and all that; I made it a point to look elsewhere, and had someone scouting me out elsewhere. I did, what I thought, was the right thing, and let the director of engineering know, a friend of whom I’ve known for almost 4 years.

We had a heart to heart talk about the upcoming interviews and he asked me what it would take for me to stay… I basically said a 40,000 raise, and a laptop… pretty shitty answer I know. In my head, at the time, I was juggling multiple roles including system administration, deployment & CI ( dev-ops ), estimates, etc… on top of trying to lead a team, as well as picking up the slack where other devs needed it. The system was broken, and the delegation of responsibilities was nearly impossible given how far behind everything was.

In retrospect, a better answer would have been, ‘I need more bodies’ – because we did, but… it is what it is. So, after the heart to heart talk, my new director made a suggestion that just made me smile, he wanted me to get back to why I started development in the first place, he wanted me back in a developer role.

I happily accepted, and told him if for some reason the interviews were good, or if I would be leaving at all, I’d happily give a 30 day notice so I could wrap up any/all projects I was handling and hand them off to someone else. I’m really big on communication and documentation, it’s the backbone of any developer, and if not, it should be.

After that call, the weekend came and gone, I got up Monday morning amped and ready to get some work done. “Yay I get to code again” I thought… so I snagged a few tasks and got to work.

Later that morning, I think it was around 11am – I got a ping that one of the executives wanted to talk to me regarding what happened last Friday – my 1-on-1 with the director. “Okay, no biggie” – I said, even sent a smiley face emoji ( I’m an emoji addict ). I’ve had people scout me out before, and just took the interview for the hell of it, was even kind enough to let the execs know, so I thought it was just going to be a check-in of how the interviews went.

To my surprise, it was nothing like that, I seen another side of someone I’ve never seen before. I could paint a picture, but I don’t want someone to be labeled; let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. I was told they’re going to “cut their losses”… while my boss, my friend, sat silently and stared into the camera. It was almost like I went to the principals office to get scolded while the friend who thought they were helping just sat there because they were told to.

So, like that, and a few words later, I was told I now had two weeks to finish things up and move on. 3, almost 4 years under my belt with this company, my friends, people I’ve taught and helped shape… gone; simply because I thought I was doing the right thing, and letting them know I may be moving on. I think the most bitter part about the entire ordeal to me, is it was painted as Jay is moving on… when in reality, I wasn’t given a choice – nor do I know how everything was pitched to the execs, nor do I know if my friend even had a choice in the matter.

Ugh, perhaps I’ll never know, one of those mysteries which go on without an answer. I’ve got a new family now, and perhaps one of the things that’ll stick with me is what I was told when I told my new boss about the previous situation, “we like to think we’re more professional than that, if you tell us you’re looking, we won’t fire you”… that means the world to me.

To date I’ve been a part of some pretty cool projects, none of which I can talk about of course, but just know that I’m back in my element. I’ve taken a Web Engineer position and finally get to code again, as well as have my code reviewed by my peers, and that is the most beneficial part of being a developer.

Perhaps one day, I’ll take a management role, but for now, I’m trying to stay away from the 40 hour call week as much as possible. Keeping my head down, busting my butt to get code out the door, even got to help our project lead on some continuous integration stuff – now that’s pretty sweet.

Overall, I’m happy now, and still keep in touch with my old friends through twitter when possible. I’m glad to be back in my groove, I’ve even started writing React finally, and code tinkering is now a hobby again. Was my decision right? I’m not sure, I thought it was the right thing to do. Could it have played out differently? Yea maybe… but it’s over now. And this blog post is just a way for me to move on I guess. I plan on staying with this new team for at least another 4 years, work my way up, see how they do things, take notes etc…

Anyhow, the almond milk is gone, grilled cheese is as well — and it’s quite late. That’s all for now – Jay

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