My father use to tell me, “Son, find a job doing what you like and you’ll never have to work again!” I love my job. I’ve been working for what used to be a small software company owned by one man and is now part of 3M for about 3-4 years and it’s been great. I love my team, I’ve written about my experiences here, and I’ve learned so much. Prior to working here I was a liaison developer on a team of RPG and ASP/VB developers at one of the larger companies in my area. (Liaison because of my versatile background having a deep understanding of so many different unrelated technologies and architecture.) I landed here at 3M taking my experience to another level. Here we use mostly Java but have also touched on Unix scripts, XSLT, and other things. The important thing is the team dynamic. It’s rare to land a job where the people become family. I don’t hold anything against coworkers in the past but these people here at 3M make me feel welcome and comfortable. I’ve felt like my ideas (as dumb as they tend to be) are actually valued, welcome and accepted. That is really important in a programming career and it’s foolish to walk away from. That’s why what I’m about to do hurts so much. I feel like I’ll never see such acceptance again. Goodbye 3M and goodbye XFGA team. (I’d put the team’s real name here but I’ve always been careful not to include any company specific info on my site.) I will truly miss everyone and everything.
On a brighter note, hello MapQuest! I’m heading to a company that feels a lot like what Joel talks about on his site. Private offices for developers, a vintage arcade Q-Bert game in the hallway, Scrum development, computer upgrades every 3 years, the stuff we programmers wet the bed over. (Disclaimer: my sheets are normally dry in the morning though I did have a recent bout with diarrhea that I’d not like to mention.) It helps that it’s a huge company too, a company that’s just as big as the one that I’m leaving. Also included is technology openness. These guys use a veriety of programming languages and tools without the urge to corporate stamp every development box with the same WinXP/.Net/SQL-Server/Dell-Optiplex stamp. Far too many programming shops fall victim to what sounds like a good step forward in consistency and completely dull and washout the overall product. Another cool thing is that the VP of development actually read my blog prior to my initial interview. It happened by accident actually.
You see, I’m apprehensive about including my web log as part of my resume since it’s not the most professional of web sites. When I was corresponding with the VP over email I naturally used my personal email account which includes my custom signature listing my web address at the bottom. I overlooked that because I recently switched my email software over to Thunderbird and Thunderbird has a really cool habit of coloring your signature light grey allowing it to easily mix with the white background and disappear as you draft new emails. Anyway, long story shortened (because I’m not typically the long-winded overtly verbose type that goes on for hours and hours about completely irrelevant details that distract you from the point of the overall story that I initially set out to outline, rather I stick to short sweet and pointed discussions of the direct nature that focus on one point and one point only without the redundancy of repeating myself repeatedly like my mother who always says, “I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna tell you, then I’ll tell you, then I’ll tell you what I just told you!” Speaking of mothers it’s almost mothers day and I haven’t even noticed but by the way where was I??? Oh yeah! The web log details…) I interviewed in my one good suit and tie while noticing everyone in the office wore jeans and tee shirts with Rock-Band iron ons and the like. (I also noticed the big Q-Bert arcade game in the hallway.) The first thing out of this guys mouth is “we’re looking for someone who likes to have fun! Someone who’s not so corporate…” Right then and there my anxieties about the accidental inclusion of my web address on my emails fell away. After all “fun” is part of my URL isn’t it? It’s was a perfect match.
About 3-4 interviews later I get a call from a guy preparing an offer that I can’t refuse and now all I can do is wait in anticipation to start. (Exactly two weeks from the date that this post goes up.) The entire experience reminds me of when I met my wife. (Uh-oh! Personal moment that I shouldn’t include.) When I get into these initial meetings I’m the shy type. You might not pick that up from meeting me because I’m too shy to show it so I over-exaggerate and do a lot of extra talking and joking to make myself look less shy and more dumb. This was the one interview where I could actually be myself without exaggerating or joking excessively or sticking my toes down my throat. It was the same way with my wife. She was the one person I could talk to normally without acting like a loon or fronting like a thug. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation you know the feeling, acceptance.
I’m going to keep it real here. The same deal as before… I’ll bring the realness about programming but keep the reality of my employment’s intellectual stuff a secret. What you see is what I code but the names, variables, comments, and algorithms are changed to random references to Hip-Hop or R&B artists in order to protect the guilty. No trade secrets revealed, just general best practice and things that I think are good ideas. The only thing different is that I’ll be working with people that changed the dynamics of the Internet. I’ll be sitting next to some very strong developers. (…we have pretty strong talent here at 3M but I’m imagining Super-Programmers complete with capes, eye-lasers, and the ability to walk through walls!) I’ll be getting my skills up so that my RPG.Net based Groovy compiler for my upcoming Windows-ReVista-Premium-Unlimited-Buntu OS is bullet proof! MapQuest won’t even know what hit them!