I love this article I read recently about what Google looks for in their hiring process. Here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html
There are 5 qualities they are trying to measure:
- Technical skill.
- Learning ability.
- Emergent leadership.
Those five things.
This aligns with the idea I knew to be true in my head but couldn’t form words around.
This is who I want to be. And I also need to be searching out projects and opportunities that value those five traits, because that’s who I want to be and that’s how I want my value to be measured.
I started a new job two months ago and it’s starting to sink in just how big of a change I made. It’s not just a change of scenery, it’s a change of climate. I feel like I’ve moved from the Temperate to the Tropical. Exotic birds are flying all around.
Having mostly supported Sharepoint and ASP.NET applications on a Microsoft IIS front end & SQL backend, I would say I have enough experience to walk into any IT Department that is a Microsoft shop and hit the ground running. And by all accounts, I was taking a job with a fully devoted Microsoft partner. Except the group I’m hired into and the team I’m assigned to uses Oracle WebLogic to run a J2EE platform running JRockIt JVM. That is a (fun and interesting) challenge I didn’t expect. So I’m learning WebLogic.
There is so much complexity, oh the complexity, in this environment. So many moving pieces. I count five completely separate Admin consoles that have completely separate controls. And when doing a deployment, I end up using at least three of them. Even the QA environment has half a dozen nodes and a clustered SQL server. Before two months ago, I had never heard of the file extensions .war, .ear, or .hprof. Before two months ago, I probably had it easy.
What I’ve really learned in the last two months is that the world is so much bigger than I imagine it and my ability to compartmentalize can work against me. That what I know is less important than I can learn. That hard work might not get noticed but usually pays off, and being nice to people pays off at every turn. That new and scary usually means interesting and undefined, that it takes bravery (actual heroic bravery) to do this everyday, and that the poison to all of this is the desire for safety.
After being at the same company for almost 5 1/2 years and having great success on the Application Engineering team there, I decided to make a change and take on a new opportunity.
And I just finished my first week at my new job. I think I’m really going to like it, but it’s a long walk to the coffee maker.
One time years ago I had a performance evaluation that left me speechless. It was 25 minutes of being told I exceeded expectations in every area but one; my manager kindly requested I shave my beard.
Some time ago I had a performance evaluation that was entirely peer review, despite having no peers.
Two years ago I had a performance evaluation that resulted in a promotion.
But this year, my performance evaluation is the first one I’ve thought long and hard about in the days following. I usually leave those one-on-ones feeling like I’m doing well, better than average, and that I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. But this year, I wasn’t applauded for doing routine tasks that are in my comfort zone. I wasn’t applauded for being likable or friendly or easy to work with. I was expected to be easy to work with. I was expected to make quick work of routine tasks. I was expected to hit all my dates. I got a clear evaluation of the key areas I need to improve in. I didn’t like it at first. I don’t think anyone likes being told exactly how they are inadequate.
I remember the last time I felt like that: I was cut from the Varsity Golf team in High School. I hadn’t improved between my Sophomore and Junior year and someone else stepped up and took my spot. I worked with a golf instructor a few times over the next year and he showed me the flaws in my swing and gave me a new practice routine. It took hitting a lot of practice balls (at the range and on the course) but I played again as a Senior.
Good news, I’m not in danger of getting cut. My boss even mentioned that there’s really never been a time he’s come to me with a question and I didn’t have an answer or he came to me with an issue and I didn’t have a solution. But he’s going to give me practice in the areas I need to improve. My boss isn’t hesitating throwing me into the deep end. Every area of improvement I need to work on will be an area I will get plenty of practice in over the next year. More good news, knowing where you need to improve makes setting goals easier. I’ve already purchased a few books on Amazon to help straighten out my work routine. We’ll see how well I adapt, changing habits can be hard, but I expect to get better in some of my weak areas. I’m glad to have a new baseline of my work performance rather than just being told “you’re doing fine”.
Boy has it been a busy one.
- Had my first call with our credit card processing vendor’s Technical Support. Also had my second and third calls this week too. The last rep I spoke to was Tom who offered to put together a workflow and walk me through the entire process of the credit card thigh bone is connected to the merchant bank hip bone (so to speak), so I’ll schedule a call with him next week.
- Fixed a lingering issue where TIF files lost their file association, so when trying to view an attachment from the web app, you have to Save and Open With. Ended up modifying a few registry keys and pushed that out to about 5 machines.
- Setup a Webex for another vendor’s offshore programmers to troubleshoot an error message on a daily report. The offshore programmer was working slowly enough that I was able to watch him work and pick up on a few things. Turns out some stored procedures from a previous version needed to be updated. They’ve delivered the script that they tested and I’ll test that out on Monday. If it works, we’ll schedule it for production.
- Had my first conversation with my old boss as his collegue, not just his direct report. We talked about persistent support issues, the upcoming company-wide Holiday party, and the SEC Championship game. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Holiday IT Pot Luck Breakfast more anyway.
The transition from Helpdesk to Implementations has been very smooth. It’s even been a great opportunity for the two new Support guys to step up and fill the void I created when I “jumped off a cliff” and joined the Implementations team.
The good news is that before my new boss hired me, she and I had a very open and honest conversation about what I didn’t know and what I didn’t have experience in. Not living up to expectations is what haunted my predecessor. I guess what’s worse: bad news or suprise bad news? Working in my favor is that I’ve been with the company for 2.5 years, I’m a known commodity, and proven that I’m a fast learner. Three years ago I was working for a dot com earning a sales commission every month. Two years from now I could probably get a job as a Database Administrator. Not a bad career path so far.
I’m waiting for the day when I’m asked to tackle something that is completely and entirely out of my league and everyone “finds me out”. It didn’t happen this week. My biggest concern is next week. I hope nobody “finds me out”.