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Hi. I'm a Unix Administrator, mathematics enthusiast, and amateur philosopher. This is where I rant about that which upsets me, laugh about that which amuses me, and jabber about that which holds my interest most: Unix.
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"Your time is coming"

Posted 10-07-2011 at 12:42 PM by rocket357

During the summer of 2010 I had a nerve-wracking interview with Google. It was fun, mind you, but it was stressful. I passed the phone screenings with flying colors, flew to the west coast, underwent a grueling all day interview, and flew home confident I'd impressed them. Then I got the call saying they weren't moving forward with me. I was really bummed, but the timing just wasn't right. "It wasn't meant to be", everyone told me..."Your time is coming", they said. I got back to work and quit thinking about it very much.

Then a week or two ago I got a weird email. It was from a recruiter who said simply "I apologize for spamming your voice mail, but really, I think you'd be a wonderful match for a position I'm filling." I checked my voicemail, I had zero calls. I wrote back to ask what number the recruiter had used, and where she got it. She told me she'd found it on monster and I nearly screamed when I realized the number was an old number I no longer had. I logged on to monster (something I do very, very rarely), and changed the number to my current one. Literally within 2-3 days I was getting multiple calls per day. There's some serious movement in the industry, it seems. I'd heard of talent gaps and big companies struggling to find hardcore talent, but I didn't think it was bad enough to warrant me getting calls like this...I suppose something on my resume stands out as being "highly desireable". I couldn't tell you what it is...though perhaps I've finally gained enough "grunt experience" to be considered seriously by other companies. I have no clue.

So now I'm at it again. I took a few nights to weed out the meaningless contract offers and places I wouldn't ever move to, and now I am interviewing with two companies, one of which the google engineers told me was even worse than google in terms of how difficult their interviews were. I was a little freaked out when I got that call, but I'm not one to back down from a challenge. The other company is a very successful mid-sized company that is undergoing a massive growth spurt. Either job would be amazing, truth be told. I still have a phone interview to go with the company that the google guys warned me about, but the mid-size company is already moving forward with flight information and hotel stays and such for me to do a face-to-face interview. It's going to be a busy week next week.

During all of this, I couldn't help but think about the company I'd be leaving (if I get either of the above mentioned jobs, of course), and I feel a little sad about it. My boss is the coolest guy I've ever worked for. He's an oldschool Solaris admin and we've really been able to learn from each other over the past few years that I've been here. I was feeling sorta bummed about it one night and mentioned it to a fellow LQ'er that I talk to regularly, and he asked why my boss and I couldn't stay in touch after I left. "I suppose we can", I said "but after I leave he may not *want* to talk to me again haha". "So why's that?", Ace asks. "I dunno, the company relies on me very heavily. When I got a job with another company here locally, the company I work for now bent over backwards to keep me. It really showed how much they need me. If I leave now, what will they do?"

What Ace told me next really changed how I thought about the whole process.

"It's not your fault they depend on you like they do."

Wow...that really put things in perspective. For years I've been silently irritated that I'm relied on so heavily. I mean, sometimes it's nice, granted...but most of the time it's upsetting because there are capable people here who *could* do the work I do, but they willingly allow others to pick up the slack. I'm no smarter than the next guy here...I just have the determination and willingness to learn how to do the jobs around me.

The management where I work has pushed for cross training and reducing dependencies, but no one has stepped up to the plate for heavy database work like me. I'm the sole PostgreSQL guru in the IT department. When I'm not on call and a PostgreSQL issue comes up, I get called...even by my boss. Granted, that's part of IT work...I accept that and I'm fine with it. But what I'm not ok with is that no one else has put forth the effort to learn PostgreSQL like I have. I was a developer a few years ago, and I saw a need. I started reading and learning, and next thing I know I moved to IT because I was more valuable here as an Administrator. We have a talented team of developers, but we had virtually no heavyweight database knowledge in IT since we'd recently lost our only DBA. I took over that role, and I pushed for everyone to learn a bit more about PostgreSQL so they could "cross train" like our management had insisted we do. I've done my part...I'm equally comfortable in development, or application administration for our webapps, or Linux/Unix administration, or webserver/services administration, or database administration. I even handle some Windows administration tasks, even though I really don't enjoy it. Point is, I've put the effort out there to cross train to make myself a better admin. If I know a bit about network administration, I can tune my database administration approach to make better use of what network resources we have, right? Having a background in development doesn't hurt, either, since I'm OCD about automating routine maintenance tasks that would otherwise take up my entire day.

So, emotional ties aside, I've come to a point where I'm ready to make that change. I'm ready to step my career up a notch and move from a small company that handles relatively large volume to a mid-size or large company that handles truly massive volume. A company like Google (only, not Google). Perhaps someday I'll work for Google, but for now my calling is elsewhere...and next week I'll get to find out where (if all goes well =)
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Total Comments 8


  1. Old Comment
    Had a funny conversation with the programmer who interviewed me today. When I mentioned that the Google Engineers said his company's interviews were worse than Google's, he said he'd heard the opposite. Perhaps they felt that way because they'd been turned down by the other company at one point...who knows? I found it mildly amusing that the two company's employees are saying that the other company is tougher...maybe their timing just wasn't right when they interviewed? I dunno. At any rate, I should find out in a few days what the next step is with these guys.
    Posted 10-10-2011 at 06:09 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    The race is on. I'll be flying to two different cities in the next few days for face-to-face interviews with the two prospective companies. Wish me luck!
    Posted 10-13-2011 at 12:47 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Interview #1 is done, and it was a **blast**. Seriously, this company (the mid-sized company) is full of some amazingly intelligent and witty people. They asked some really tough questions...not "how many bits does it take to encode $header_field in $packet_type?" type of questions, but practical "you need to accomplish $task in $environment, how would you approach the task and why?" kind of questions, along with the typical "Here is the symptom, what could be the cause?" questions. I'd like to think that I did rather well, as there was only one question that truly stumped me throughout the entire 4 hour interview.

    They told me to expect an offer by close of business Monday. Sweeeeet.
    Posted 10-15-2011 at 02:42 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    wow, that sounds like a really hardcore and intersting business
    Posted 10-15-2011 at 09:14 PM by Web31337 Web31337 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    It's been fun, Web31337. The verbal offer I got already was quite nice, so as long as the official offer is pretty close to the verbal offer, I'll probably go with the mid-size company since it's growing so fast right now (tons of opportunity for advancement = thx). I dunno...I have to see what the larger company says...
    Posted 10-16-2011 at 11:13 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Yeah, it's official. I now work for Rackspace Hosting. The offer they made was phenomenal, so I had to write to the larger company and turn them down.
    Posted 10-18-2011 at 06:49 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Posted 10-18-2011 at 03:03 PM by MrCode MrCode is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Thank, MrCode! =)
    Posted 10-18-2011 at 03:06 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline


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