Knowing When

I was a Computer Science major in college.  This, of course, meant lots of programming.  In my case, the majority was in Pascal, plus I dabbled in others: Modula-2 and C primarily.

So, when it was time to graduate, I needed a job.  I interviewed at a couple of local places (one insurance, one PC software).  Well, neither one worked out, plus I felt I needed to farther away from home.  I eventually took one in Des Moines.

Was I programming?  Nope.  The choice was either program COBOL, or do something in their "Research & Development" department.  So, I became a "Research Analyst".  It was fun, but we didn't do much more than review software and hardware, write up the report and tell people in the company what to buy.

One of those projects was to compare UNIX systems.  That was actually pretty cool, I got to meet employee #33 at Sun (whatever his name was) and got me going on UNIX.

So that led me around to a path of doing DBA work and sysadmin work.  Eventually, I was sick of sysadmin work and wanted to program.  Of course, since I hadn't been doing programming, I didn't think I'd ever get a programming job.

That's when an old friend called and said "we need good people, will you come back?".  "Is there programming?", I said.  "No, not really".  I took it anyway.

The position was to manage our networking devices, thousands of routers, switches, and hubs.  I also managed DHCP, and DNS.  I did manage to find some programming, though.  I modified the DHCP server using C, and wrote bunches of scripts in bash and Perl.

That position turned into a dead end, but I didn't know when to call it a day and leave.  I stayed probably 10 years too long.

I finally did get another internal position supporting some software.  I also found a way to get a little programming in using Java.  I should have left after that first year, but once again, I didn't know when to leave.

I and my team got transferred out to another area where I stuck it out for another two years.  Here again, I didn't know when to leave and should have after the first year, because this new area was horrible.

I finally did get out of there and into my current position.  I think I've finally learned something, because in this case, I do think I know when to leave.  More on the in the future perhaps.

The lesson for you is: figure out when it is time to leave and leave.  Sticking it out in something you hate is horrible, don't do it.

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