Monday, July 22, 2013

What do you do when you hate your job?

You get another one.

In my professional life, I was out of work from mid March through the end of April (1.5 months). It was, for lack of a better term, "yucky." I felt yucky. I'd already done a lot of posts on leaving a job (in all various ways) and I tried to buoy myself up a bit, but things were kind of staggered blog production wise during this time period.

Then I got a job. Two, actually. One place played hard to get, which is to say, they offered me verbally, then didn't come through with any of the paperwork for three weeks. When they did, the verbal offer didn't match the paper number. Further they weren't sure, so they decided they didn't want me, then called me back and offered it to me on a contract-to-hire. After the interview process, I realized whoever took that position was in a world of hurt because three people laid claim to the work output of that role, and each of them had a different idea of what that should be. Two of them the role directly reported to with a dotted line to the third.

The second job was down the street. Okay, a little more than that, but I live in Bellevue and it was in downtown Bellevue. The people with whom I interviewed said the standard things about "how do you handle disparate personalities" and other ways of saying "We have crappy people that don't change but can do whatever jobs they do, can you cope?" I said yes. It was also a contract to hire. No bridge commute, no downtown Seattle parking. I took the job.

And immediately hated it.

On the first day I was ushered into a room with my fellow program managers where we remained, no air condition, four people, tiny room, while we all got berated for being behind schedule and not having the teams' work planned out in sufficient detail. Yes, I got yelled at on day one for work I couldn't have done (or not done).

Parking was free if you walked the last ten minutes to the office daily (15 if you didn't rush). It was not covered, so if it had rained, I'd have gotten wet. My favorite restaurant in Bellevue was in the same building, but I ate there a lot, as we frequently worked through lunch. The remote team did not do what was on the project plan. They made stuff up. They broke the build. They wrote errors into the system. Then they wandered off to be unavailable for days or hours. Meantime, the local team got yelled at for getting behind, and my team got yelled at for not managing the remote team (over whom we had no control fiscal or otherwise) better. As a PM, I can use carrot sticks with the best of them. A remote team at a company not of the main company, with no interest other than being paid by the main company while they developed for their own product...that even I couldn't handle.

Daily I got the message that my work was insufficient, and if only I worked harder somehow this would work out. I began to get ill before going to work in the morning and having trouble sleeping at night. I was told that my personality was "too big" and that I needed to be quiet and let other folks handle things they consistently failed to handle.

I hadn't had a solid job for some time. A full time, non-consulting gig. I began to realize I'd need to do this for at least a year - even take the FTE if they offered it to me. Ugh.

A friend who had been very eager for me to work where she works did not have a position open when I was looking. A month into this job from hell, she had one open. I went on a Friday, interviewed, and got it. I felt awful, having helped the first company fill their position only to leave as fast as my legs would carry me. Now, seriously, I needed to stay for at least a year to avoid the label of total flake. Its in Seattle. Parking is free. I stay late. I laugh a lot. My stomach has stopped getting upset, and while I often stay up too late, it's not because I'm having trouble sleeping, its because I'm having more fun being awake.

I made a very hard choice that was ethically questionable for me, and difficult for the company I was leaving. I did make a mark on that company; they were getting rid of that remote team because of work I did (facts I gathered, statistics about work done v. not done, bugs introduced, etc.). On the day I announced I was going, my boss paid me the first compliment I'd heard in over a month working there. I was a bull in a china shop there, yes, but I got stuff done. She wished I would teach her other PM's how to do that if I had to leave. I was good for that place, but it was not good for me. I saw it, I was given an opportunity, and I left.

I've been in the new gig since mid-June. I'm still trying to figure out how much time to spend here v. at home. My face is a little sore because I smile a heck of a lot more. This place isn't perfect--like most places, there are folks here I'd cheerfully choke to death and then hide the body in the break room--but I'm getting used to it. Finding my rhythm. Realizing that staying here for a year for my resume isn't going to be hard. Thinking if I stay here for two I might want to move closer (the commute is a BITCH, people).

We adopted a new kitten (there are now three felines in the house and the delicate balance has shifted because there are more girls than boys). And I'm getting a handle on things. the meltdown of my primary computer, happened, btw, in the middle of the previous job, and has finally been brought to life as a Frankenstein monster box of awesome.

I'm not sure I'm done with this blog yet. If you're reading this, thank you for hanging out for me. I have a few more stories to tell. I just had to get healthy and happy to tell them.

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