Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's been a 5 year stretch so far...

This week I am celebrating(?) five years with Simulacra, and it is causing some serious strolling down memory lane. I joined the company fresh out of university, so fresh that I still had to find out my results and had to specifically request time off during my three month probation to attend graduation.

Five years is a long time to be with your first company, especially in this industry. I remember my father being concerned about my choice of such a traditionally nomadic profession, understandable from his vocational teaching perspective. Yet here I am, wondering if five years really is a long time.

It is not like I've been doing the same job here all that time. I've progressed from being the new coffee boy to heading an amazing team of developers. I have had the chance to work and learn from some really talented people (special mention here for Mark and Mike, you know who you are). The projects, both internal and external have continuously been interesting and challenging. Those five years have flown by, yet I think I am quite a different person to the one who started here.

As part of my nostalgia I have been looking back over old documents from my final year of university. From the comedy acknowledgements of my final year project;

"I would like to thank the following:

Rob Kinmond and Euan Wilson, for putting the fear of God into me once a week, and because they said I'd fail if I didn't thank them.

Katherine Hall and John Large, for their hard work proof reading and the subtle way they asked whether English was, in fact, my first language.

Andrew Hodgetts, for being a shining example of how not to manage a final year project.

My family, for not worrying about me when I was screaming at a monitor at four o'clock in the morning.

The owners and staff of The Star Inn, Copmere, for turning a blind eye to my turning up for shifts on only two hours sleep.

This project was powered by junk food and a vast and regular intake of caffeine."

to my cringe worthy CV;

"I am a problem-solver with the flexibility and awareness to see inter-connections and routes to solutions."

That's going to haunt me for a while.

So with five years down I look to the future, I wonder where I might be five years from now. I am fast approaching 30, which is something scary when you see it written down like that. For some people it carries with it thoughts of pensions and houses, and I won't deny that I have had such thoughts. However foremost in my mind for some time now has been the concept of "career".

It is easy when asked about your career to simply state your job, but is that the truth of the matter. Some people I know who work full time do not consider that they have careers or that the career they foresee for themselves is nothing to do with their current occupation, both valid choices. Five years ago I was almost certain I was about to embark on a career in network administration, yet I dodged that bullet and became a devoted coder. Over those five years I have slowly, and consciously, moved into a more managerial role to where I am today. I have no problem with all the form filling and meetings if they are leading the company to better things. It is fantastic that I have the opportunity to talk to clients so much. One of the major benefits of being in a small company is the number of different hats you can wear should you want to. But as we established earlier, your job isn't really your career.

So we come to the crux of my current preoccupation, what really is my career and how should I be going about it? I don't have the answer, hell I don't really have all the questions yet, but with two years to 30 I guess I had better start working it all out. I'll let you know...

p.s. She-ra, that was one for you :)