Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dream Job: Myth or Reality

If any of you are like me you've changed jobs a few times. Maybe more than a few times. Sometimes this was not our choice (read, web company circa 2001), most of the time however job moves are in part, motivated by a search for the perfect job: The Dream Job.

There is definitely a problem with most good programmers I know that we get bored easily. As soon as we know everything there is to know about the site/product/industry we are currently in, we want something new. At first this is just an idle though and then over time it turns into a desire to 'right' things and you move on. This is why I've spent a lot of time as a contractor, it's easier to change jobs without hurt feelings and such.

But what I'm really writing about tonight is the 'Dream Job' that we think we lost out on at some point early in our careers. For most of us there have been times where we had to make a choice between two (or more) companies, each with their draw. We made our decision and hopefully were satisfied with it. But you always wonder about 'what could have been.' Or maybe you did work there and for some reason left it and always wish you were still working with those people or in that industry.

Have you ever gone back and looked at the company again? I have. A couple of times in fact.

For me, there was this company I worked for back in the Internet heyday, times were good. I traveled the world writing cutting edge code and strategizing cool solutions for clients. We had writers, designers, information architects, programmers and all the other things a company like that should have. Times were good.

Then came the downturn and the owners decided it was a good time to split. No more company. No more good times. I always dreamed of that job, that perfect job which was no longer. I found new work quickly but it wasn't the same. I stagnated. No more cutting edge. No more cool.

Eventually I left this gig for a new one, in search of the perfect job, as always. This job was much better technically. It definitely honed my skill from a technical perspective. Real experience in OO programming and some of the intricacies of the .NET framework. But it still was lacking in that one criteria that the perfect job must have: cool. After a while I left this job too, still looking. After a couple of other gigs though I came back. What this job lacked in cool it made up for in tech.

And now the dance begins again. An old co-worker, now a partner in a new incarnation of that old dream job, called me the other day to basically offer me a job. We talked about this a couple years ago as well and while the company had cool it had little to no tech. This time though things seem to be different. I went and talked to them again and found that they are doing some OO development, some multi-application integration, some SharePoint work, some e-commerce work. And it still is cool.

I would be writing specs, managing off-shore development, writing code, architecting solutions; all good stuff. I would be encouraged to stay cutting edge. I would get to help steer the technical face of the company. And it is cool.

Would this count as a dream job? Would I burn bridges if I left the good job for the possible dream job? I still need to talk to both the new people and the old people but this may be a tough decision. Very tough.

Stay tuned, I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

UPDATE: Well, it may be an easy decision after all. I'm expensive.

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