A few days ago, a former colleague asked me if I had moved my blog to a new location, as I have not posted anything since the day I changed jobs.
Who moved my cheese?
My grandmother keeps asking if the blood-thirsty corporation has chewed me up and spitted me out already.
No and no.
I have not written too much over the last few months, but it had more to do with my private life (see the most recent short post) than anything else. I am back now!
And I want to start by sharing some reflections on why getting a new job turned out to have been such a great decision for me.
1. People who saw you grow up have to make a conscious effort to treat you seriously
Most of us have been there, right? A rarely seen aunt that never managed to finish high school feels the need publicly to comment on your ‘extravagant’ religious choices. The grandma, who has been expecting Germans to come back anyday now for the last 60 years, packs her mouth with fat-dripping ribs which sure as hell will make her see the doctor the following day, and expresses her concern about how miserably thin you are (nevermind the 10 kgs you have gained sitting in front of the computer since you last saw her). The uncles move on to discuss the current job market and the horrific attitude of modern day youth – and exchange amused looks when you try to take part in that conversation.
In my experience, the same thing happens at work, though usually not in such a blatant manner.
I started my previous job right after gradutating from PhD studies. No matter how many side projects I had been involved in and how much I liked coding – at the beginning, I was clearly behind most members of my team when it came to the newest frameworks and everyday programming practice. I spent more than two years in that place and, between writing papers and going to conferences, I really got down to business, but I still felt patronized during design discussions. It might be true, though, that ‘felt’ is the operative word here.
New job, clean slate. They see what I am able to do now and it is refreshing.
2. It is usually easier to get hired than to be promoted
I remember reading an interview with a Polish woman how had a great career as a City of London lawyer. When asked how she managed to reach such a high position at such a young age, she said the only way to effectively move up the ladder is to change employers often, because you will never be promoted as quickly within one company. Loyalty plays against you, she explained.
While a job history of 6 months here and 6 months there may not look very attractive to certain employers – there is a grain of truth to her story. I am way happier with my new job title!
3. I understood how much I know
Very recently, somebody has mentioned to me the Impostor Syndrome. Reportedly, it happens to high achievers, and to high-achieving women in particular. So you get promoted, people ask your opinion, you sit in board meetings, but all the time, down in your gut, you have the feeling that all those people know so much more than you, and that at some point you will finally be exposed as the hopeless fraud you really are. I know the feeling, too.
For some reason, I needed a change of environment to see my skills clearly, and understand other people to fact checking too.
4. I learned a ton of new things
I have been hired to a higher position, and as I result my employer expects me to be very self-reliant and independent. Suddenly, I am supposed to know more than most people. One of my success stories is that of Continuous Integration.
At my previous workplace, the (quite mature, I would say) team applied CI with Jenkins and some Attlassian tools. It was there, I knew without a shadow of doubt how important it was, but I was afraid to touch it with a stick and was very happy that somebody else was responsible for it. Then came the new team in the new job…Where people were even more afraid than me. So I did that. And I learned so much! These days I am joyfully setting up crazy scripting multiple platforms multiple VCS build plans. I have even obtained Stack Overflow reputation in this field
Work is fun as long as you are learning new things.
5. Open space made me step outside my safe habitat
I am not sure if this is a good thing. Eye opening, for sure… But that’s good, right?
Previously, I worked ‘in culture’ (digital libraries and museums) with a team of experienced developers, some with PhD’s , who also traveled a lot. We spent our days in a 6-desk room with a view and only left it for meetings or to get coffee in the miniscule kitchen. There where hardly any racist/homophobic/sexist remarks, and if something happened, I made a big fuss about it. Then I moved to a new job: open space, dozens of people with different backgrounds, mostly younger than me, too.
Of course, if what I hear is harmful, I react. But being exposed to opinions like this has reminded me how different people are. We all tend to surround ourselves with those similar to us, who think like us. It is quite easy to forget that our opinion, and our friends’ opinion, is not necessarily what the majority thinks. Being exposed to different mindsets is not always pleasant, and sometimes quite tiring, but I also think it is healthy.
Some people say that one should not stay with one job longer than 5 years. I guess with this post I am backing this claim up. I went from one good job to another, and in the process I gained things which – to me – seem irrespective of the particular employers. They arose from the change itself.
‘Who Moved My Cheese?’, remember?
Tags: change, everyday job, open space