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Changing Jobs

by Anonymous Monk
on Nov 27, 2007 at 20:24 UTC ( #653355=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

How often you have changed job in computer-career ? Has it been useful to you? How the transition goes? Do you regard your previous job(s) as better ones?

Comment on Changing Jobs
Re: Changing Jobs
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Nov 27, 2007 at 20:45 UTC
    I'm a bit of an extreme, but I've had (roughly) 15 employers in 12 years. I think I've grown tremendously as a resource by doing that because I've seen more situations than most people see in an entire career. But it's definitely not for everyone. As for better or worse ... it's neither. It just is.

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
Re: Changing Jobs
by KurtSchwind (Hermit) on Nov 27, 2007 at 21:45 UTC

    I'm a 3 and out kind of person. I've had about 5 jobs in 15 years. The last 4 were all 3 year stints.

    I just finished year 3 in my current position, but I'm not actively looking, so this might be a new record for me.

    Useful? Well, sure. All experience is useful. There are lots of reasons for changing jobs. Money is one, but just 'doing something else' is another. A danger of development is that you often get sucked into things you don't want to do after a while. You become the 'expert' on the app you developed, so that means you go into production support. Or into managing it because it has grown beyond a couple of people to a larger team. If that isn't what you enjoy, you may want to switch jobs.

    I've lucked out. I've never regretted a job change.

    Edit: Fixed typo pointed out by ysth.

    --
    I used to drive a Heisenbergmobile, but every time I looked at the speedometer, I got lost.
Re: Changing Jobs
by Old_Gray_Bear (Bishop) on Nov 27, 2007 at 21:55 UTC
    I am not quite as extreme, I've held 13 different positions at 11 different companies in 38 years. In all but one case the change of job was my choice. (I got hired by a 'Design Guru' who proceeded to over-sell what he could do and then blame the programming staff when we couldn't deliver his Vision. He got fired one morning, 4 months later, and the entire department got told we had 14 days.)

    All of my other job changes have been either been because I could get a better salary or more challenge in a new job. I eventually ended up working for a small HMO for 18+ years. I'd probably still be there, but all three of my bosses successively took early retirement and set me a good example.

    When I was in contract programming, I stayed employed by the same Contract-house but I moved from project to project every 4 to 6 months. Sometimes the new project was inside the same company that held the previous contract, sometimes not. Those transitions were basically economic rather that 'personal growth' driven. When you are Contracting and you have a house-payment, you want to be fully employed, whether the project is 'interesting' or not.

    Update -- corrected grammar.

    ----
    I Go Back to Sleep, Now.

    OGB

Re: Changing Jobs
by technojosh (Priest) on Nov 27, 2007 at 22:05 UTC
    I have just completed the first year of a job switch...

    The useful part of it was the exposure to a new set of issues, that provided a lot of growing ground in my Perl experience. The transition was impossible however, and even now, at a year in, I feel like I could use a couple weeks of in depth training on our software. That is probably as much my fault as it is my employer's, but my current transition between jobs has left a lot to be desired.

    My previous job was probably a better fit. My current one pays better though, and sadly (or not, i guess) that will dictate my job choices for the next couple decades. That aside, I would much rather stay in a position than switch around, it is just too much headache. Especially if you have a decent job to begin with...

Re: Changing Jobs
by meraxes (Friar) on Nov 27, 2007 at 22:12 UTC

    I've only had 3 jobs thus far. The first for almost 6 years. The next for about a year and a half. The latest, a mere 5 months.

    I've never really moved for a single reason; several factors often come into play.

    I left my first for a variety of reasons. I was the first programmer ever there and learned Perl on the job. By the time I left there were four more Perl programmers, all learning Perl as they were hired. Despite being the guru of the office, I know I was the high-scorer in the Beer league. Compared to the Perl community at large, I was not nearly as advanced as them. I wanted a little mentoring. Plus management stopped talking to the programmers and made promises and specs and schedules without actually speaking to anyone who coded or knew how to code. I was burning out and not growing. Time to move on.

    The second job opened up my Perl horizons. I liked the boss and I learned a lot from him, but I hit a wall. This was a small shop and there was no opportunity to do anything but receive "hand me down" work. I wasn't permitted to design stuff, merely implement. I'd taken a pay cut to hopefully get somewhere where I could move the next level. I also didn't get a raise at all after a year despite assurances. Trust was lost and it was time to move on.

    The new job has turned out great. I'm the "baby" of the shop with coders who have a wide variety of skill levels and expertise in different areas. Some people are weaker in some areas than I am, others are not. But there's a whole heck of a lot to learn and though I get told what to program, I can basically do it however I want, so long as I meet spec. I'm also working with people who are teaching me not just new Perl stuff, but new *nix stuff and I'm getting to understand business a bit better as well. I don't anticipate wanting to bug out of here anytime soon so I won't be looking for a job...

    ... but I'll sure as heck keep an eye on the job listings to see what's happening in the market!

    --
    meraxes
Re: Changing Jobs
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 28, 2007 at 04:13 UTC

    Spending 15+ years as a contractor, and as the purveyor of a software product, might have put me in a slightly better or more well-rounded perspective than most. It has certainly made me more hungry.

    Your true job, in this business, is simply to make a very technically-difficult task be “easy.” (To the customer who is actually footing the bills, it has never once been obvious why your job should actually be as difficult as you make it out to be...)

    “That web site,” in other words, is not about you, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be. It's all about “making money for whoever is footing the bill.”

    Therefore, your job, your role in the process, is truly-and-simply “to make that oh-so technically-difficult job be .. somehow(!) .. easy!”

    Like every single other businessman in human history, your task is to somehow satisfy your customer...

    “The secret is, there is no secret!” Make of it what you will!

      It's all about “making money for whoever is footing the bill.”
      Or whatever the bill-footer is aiming for, which is not always "make money". (Though I wouldn't doubt that "make money" means more money for you.)
Re: Changing Jobs
by NoSignal (Acolyte) on Nov 28, 2007 at 09:21 UTC
    I've had a very weird career to say the least, having started out from the bottom and climbed my way up, jacked it all in for a few years and then started from the bottom and climbed my way up again.

    This is my third IT job in three years, each a stepping stone toward the other. I now find myself in the industry vertical I want to be in (ISP space), with the company I want to work for, doing the job I want to do, with an opportunity stretching ahead of me into infinity to play with the toys and tools I want to play with.

    My humble opinion is that you can approach your career in two ways. a) A flat out race for the top or b) a succession of interesting adventures where you can balance your enjoyment of your work and your environment with the rewards the come from working hard and doing what you're asked to.

    Transitions are never easy, but then anything easy is never worth doing. If you ever find yourself in a position where your new job is worse than your old one, then own up to the fact that it was a mistake and move on.
Re: Changing Jobs
by tcf03 (Deacon) on Nov 28, 2007 at 14:16 UTC
    I am on my fourth Job in IT in 8 years. I started at the bottom when was 30. I spent a few months as a network technician. My second job was network tech / computer operator. I quickly moved up to Unix Admin - a bit more quickly that I would have liked. Being thrown into the fire is not always a good way to learn, but I did well. I stayed for five years. Third job was another UNIX admin position. This job I took for money, I doubled my salary. A good company, my wife and I moved to the area for me to take the position, and when my wife and I had twins and NO family around, we made the decision to move closer to family. So I took a job as a systems engineer, and thats where I am now. Its just a job. I do need to add though that Perl has put me at an advantage with every move forward. I may not be very good, but good enough to stand out at each position.

    I don't think the transitions have either been useful or harmful to me. Transitions have generally been pretty smooth, I have always been able to work on many different technologies and pick up new ones quickly when needed. I would have to say that my second job was my favorite. The moral of the lesson there was NEVER take a job for money.

    Ted
    --
    "That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved."
      --Ralph Waldo Emerson
Re: Changing Jobs
by samizdat (Vicar) on Nov 28, 2007 at 14:25 UTC
    When I was a lot younger (and single), I used to take jobs with smaller companies that were project-based. I'd be there for a year and complete a project, then move on. I found that smaller companies liked my diversity of experience, but larger companies wouldn't touch me. The feeling was usually mutual, so I never regretted my choices. I did also gain several thousand in salary with every move, and I was also hired back at one company at another point in my climb up the spiral helix.

    Other than the sometimes painful job search every year or year and a half, I think it's all been beneficial. I learned a lot about different ways of running companies and different management philosophies. The few times I stayed at a company for an extended period of time I got the short end of the stick, and I learned a lot about positioning myself to make my value to the company obvious and unique. This acceleration came about because I have always looked at the employer-employee relationship as my responsibility to manage and manipulate. If you view being taken advantage of as "their fault," you'll never profit from the exchange.

    Along those lines, here's a really profound quote:

    "Always remember, in the jungle you will either think about the bullets being fired at you, or where you are aiming, but not both. I always choose to think about where I am aiming and where I am going. This leads to massive productivity. The deep training of your mind to do this instinctively is the single most valuable thing you can have on this earth."
                -- Bob Samara

    Don Wilde
    "There's more than one level to any answer."
Re: Changing Jobs
by McDarren (Abbot) on Nov 28, 2007 at 16:44 UTC
    How often you have changed job in computer-career ?
    I'm in my third job in 25 years. Although, only the past 2 jobs have been directly in the IT industry, and that's only been for the past 7 years. Prior to this, I worked for 18 years for the Australian Government, and although there were IT-related aspects to my job, it was never primarily IT focussed.
    Has it been useful to you? How the transition goes?
    The first transition I made (7 years ago) was tough. And it was quite a shock to the system. After 18 years with the same employer I was definitely in a comfort zone. My job was interesting, flexible, secure, and I had a decent (although not great) salary. I was well along the well-trodden path to a modest (and mediocre) retirement. But I was frustrated. I knew that I had the potential to do better for myself in the private sector, and I'd always had a desire to work in the IT industry, but I'd never managed to work up the guts to do anything about it. Eventually I did. I showed up at work one morning and gave two weeks notice. I think I was just as surprised as everyone else. I had no job to go to and no real plan other than "to find a job in the IT industry". It took me 4 months to find one - a (junior) installation engineer (at age 38), on about 20% less than I was being paid in the job I left. It was tough, and it was a very steep learning curve in a totally new and unfamiliar environment (private vs. public sector).

    Has it been worth it? - You bet! In the past 7 years I've relocated to a different country, I've travelled the world, and I'm now being paid more than 5 times the salary I was on back then. I think I've been very lucky, as there have been several opportunities that have seemed to present themselves just at the right time. But I've also worked very hard, and I've been able to recognise and grab those opportunities - rather than let them slip by (as was previously my habit).

    Do you regard your previous job(s) as better ones?
    That's a difficult question to answer and it really depends on ones criteria for "better". Certainly, changing jobs has enabled me to have a "better" salary and associated "better" lifestyle, with the associated "better" material benefits. But the downside to this is that I work _way_ longer hours, and I have a lot more responsibility than I used to. And I'm also now in an industry that is a lot more volatile, and I have always in the back of my mind that I could wake up any morning and find myself out of a job. I enjoy my work now, but then I've always enjoyed my work, (almost) no matter what I've been doing.

    Changing jobs can be good, and it can be bad. I see a lot of people job-hopping (particularly in the IT industry), for various reasons. Sometimes they're looking for more money, sometimes they're looking to learn new skills, sometimes it's simply for a change of environment. I think it boils down to two things: a) your motivation for changing (or not changing) jobs, and b) the overall direction that you want to be heading.

    Although the concept of job-hopping is still a little alien (and somewhat daunting) to me, I can see that in an industry such as this - where things are changing so rapidly and new technologies are emerging on an almost daily basis - it's probably a good thing to be doing if you want to progress at a rapid pace.

    Cheers,
    Darren :)

Re: Changing Jobs
by Nkuvu (Priest) on Nov 28, 2007 at 17:17 UTC

    I've been working for the same company for a little over five years. I got this job out of college, so it's the only company I've worked for.

    Three years ago, I left the company to seek a better position. The company itself isn't bad, I like the people and the structure just fine. But the work itself is less than fulfilling. We typically do contract work for other companies -- so this involves software testing, and almost no actual development or design. Over the years I've been doing a significant amount of testing, and a lot of documentation work, and my actual programming skills have suffered as a consequence. I'm not particularly motivated outside of work, unfortunately.

    So when I went looking for a new company to work for, my resume was not very impressive. I spent six months totally unemployed. After six months I got a job in a video store -- minimum wage beats zero wage. I continued the search, but after a full year my savings were getting rather low. I returned to this company to do the dull but stable work. It's a bit depressing, but I am aware that it's mostly my own fault. If I could get myself actually working on projects outside of work, I could brush up my programming skills and be able to list projects on my resume, enabling me to get a much more interesting job (although part of the issue is that I am against relocation or even much travel).

    So I think a change would be good, but I haven't been able to do so.

Re: Changing Jobs
by TStanley (Canon) on Nov 28, 2007 at 17:27 UTC
    I spent 10 years in the active duty military, working in what could be considered the IT field. After I left there, I had a 18 month break (working as an armed security guard), then finally got my foot back in the door, and have had 3 IT jobs in last 8 years, with my current job being the longest held at over 6 years.

    With each job, I've managed to have a salary/benefits increase as well as learned different things along the way. Each job has had its pluses and minuses, but over the long run, its pretty much evened out.

    I am currently in the process of looking around for a new job, but haven't had any luck so far.

    TStanley
    --------
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. -- George Orwell
Re: Changing Jobs
by tuxz0r (Pilgrim) on Nov 28, 2007 at 19:34 UTC
    Wow, I've worked at quite a few places now that I think about it. In the last 15 years, I've worked for 7 different companies, and twice in those years I have attempted my own side business in IT as well. I think changing jobs these days does increase your value as an IT professional (euphemism for programmer in my case). As a number of people mentioned it widens your range of experience, which helps round you out in your approach to software design, programming, languages, tools and most of all trouble shooting and debugging. I think the debugging area is my most affected skill regarding changing jobs. The various and sundry issues I run into on production calls and life cycle testing have really given me an edge when it comes to solving problems quickly.

    I've liked all my previous jobs, but if I tend to stay in one place, I tend to stagnate. Usually this is because the project work dries up for my particular group, or the work just becomes routine and the challenges fewer and far between. So, in general, for me, changing jobs every 3 or so years has been beneficial from a career standpoint.

    ---
    echo S 1 [ Y V U | perl -ane 'print reverse map { $_ = chr(ord($_)-1) } @F;'
    Warning: Any code posted by tuxz0r is untested, unless otherwise stated, and is used at your own risk.

Re: Changing Jobs
by apl (Monsignor) on Dec 02, 2007 at 13:48 UTC
    In at my fifth job in 32 years (not counting stuff in college). I stay longer at each successive job, leaving before mergers or (voluntarily) after major layoffs. In each case I moved on to a job with newer technology and more challenges that the one before.

    This is both good and bad. Previously, it has shown employers that I am stable, and unlikely to leave at the drop of a hat. Now, it implies I'm inflexible or not up on the latest technology, or <&inser favorite excuse here>&. 8-)

    I'm going to give you a piece of practical advice: You owe your employer your best effort, and nothing more. Programmers have become interchangeable cogs, as far as Pointy Haired managers are concerned. If you find a job that looks like it's more interesting or likely to let you learn something new, TAKE IT. You should be your primary concern, especially if you're younger (i.e. have fewer obligations).

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