Telecommuting

Update on my job situation.

I haven’t talked about where I’m at with my job for a while, so here’s a quick little update.

This is going to get a little techy for a minute, so if you don’t have patience for that then move along.  I’m still working as a systems admin.  I’m focused primarily on VMware and maintaining our server infrastructure.  I don’t interact with my boss very frequently, so I’m actually really enjoying my job.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that at this organization.  I’m learning a lot because our previous VMware guy left suddenly a few months back.  I’m not certified in VMware at all, so I’m learning as I go.  It’s been a lot of fun.

The baby should be here in two months or so.  Right now, my wife and I are planning to have her take 3-4 months off with the baby.  I’m going to take 2 weeks off initially, and then go back to work.  Once her time is up, I’m going to take the rest of my time.  That should be about 10 weeks total.  My plan is to seriously look for telecommuting opportunities while I’m off for 10 weeks.  I’m hoping to find some either permanent status jobs or contracted work from home.  I want to get into web development still, but I haven’t had the time or motivation recently to really dive into it.  I’m hoping that staying at home will allow me to work less, spend more time with the baby, and develop my web skills simultaneously.  And, we won’t need a babysitter so there’s that as well.

Job Hunting

Chronicling my ongoing struggles finding a job.

I’ve been working on building my web development skills for about 5 months now. I’m getting pretty good at manipulating HTML and CSS. I’m currently working mostly on Javascript and jQuery now, as I feel like most of the jobs I’ve seen doing design work use these four languages as a foundation.

The Goal

My ideal situation right now would be find a part time job somewhere in town to work on web projects.  I’d really like something that requires a lot of diverse skills and languages, as I’d like a broad palette of skills to draw from.  Right now I’m working full time at my current job, but I’d really like to find a part time web dev gig and cut my current job down to part time.

The Problem

My biggest problem right now is motivation.  I don’t see my wife much during the week, so the weekends I try to spend with her.  And every weekday I work long hours, so it can be hard to force myself to spend more hours looking at a screen when I’m off. I know that this is a personal problem and that there’s no one to blame for it but myself.  But it’s still difficult, because I really want to do web development long term.  If I could, I would just quit my current job and let my wife support us for a little bit until I was skilled enough to get hired.

I’ve had a couple interviews recently, and they’ve gone pretty well.  I felt personable and relaxed, and I have a pretty good resume from a technical perspective.  Unfortunately  none of that technical experience is directly related to coding or web work.  I think my biggest problem right now is one of two things:  I think people see my resume and see me as overqualified (ie: expensive) so they don’t give me an interview, or I get the interview but my inexperience in web development is too much of a hurdle for an employer to take a chance on me.

The Solution

I’m still applying for new positions all the time.  I have a couple friends that are self employed, and I’ve started building web sites for them without telling them.  I’m going to present the websites to these friends and tailor the websites to their specifications.  Hopefully, if I have websites under my belt from viable companies, that will help me get hired.

However, my wife and I have started trying to start a family.  If this web stuff isn’t working out, I may need to consider other options.  I’ve already started looking at positions at a local hospital that is much closer to home than my current job.  I’m currently commuting 45 minutes every day to and from work, and this hospital is 10 minutes away.  I’m very confident I can get hired at this hospital, so that’s a viable backup plan.  I really want this web stuff to work out though, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into it and I really feel passionate about it.  I guess we’ll just see what happens, I’m striving to follow my dream of being a web developer but I’m grounding myself in the reality that a normal nine to five might be the best solution for my family, at least for the next few years.

More About Me

More Disclosure

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure how much of myself I would be identifying.  I kept a lot of my personal information separate from the blog.  I’m still going to continue to do that, but I figured if someone were to read this blog it would make sense to have a little more context about who I am.

Marriage

I’m a married man in my mid 20’s.  I have a beautiful wife who I love very much.  She and I are high school sweethearts, we’ve been together for over 10 years and married for 5.  Marriage has provided us many challenges, but we’ve always learned and grown through tough experiences.  My wife has had several health complications in the time we’ve been together including Type 1 diabetes, a thyroid condition, and a brain disorder.  The brain disorder was easily the most difficult for us to overcome.  She was in a wheelchair for a while, she had several brain surgeries, but eventually she came out of it free and clear.  

I love my wife very much.  However, there are a lot of struggles that come with being with the same person for so long.  I’ve always heard those old adages proclaiming the difficulty of marriage, but none of those things seem real when you’re newly in love.  Slowly, with time, those adages prove true.  My wife and I have been working on our communication skills for the past year or two as our poor communication has caused many unnecessary arguments and complications.  We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor for a while.  When I tell people that, everyone thinks we’re on the verge of divorce.  We started going to this counselor when we were in a particularly rough patch, but now we just go for maintenance.  There’s nothing wrong with therapy, and I would encourage everyone to see someone on a semi regular basis just to make sure you’re communicating properly, even if you’re not having trouble in your relationship.  We’ve gained a lot of new skills together, but we still struggle.  Just yesterday we got in an argument over a new couch we were putting together.  It came back to poor communication, even though we have all these new skills from the therapist.  Neither one of us is perfect, and we still fail sometimes even when we have all the tools we need to work well together.  

I’m coming to realize there’s a huge difference between new puppy love and a love that endures over many years of hardship and struggle.  Puppy love is fun and exciting, but long term love that grows and progresses and changes is really fulfilling.  I’m married to a great woman.

Work

I currently work in I.T. as a senior analyst for a local government entity.  I’ve been working this job for seven years.  I enjoy I.T. and I’m good at it, but I went to school for business. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and a masters degree in accounting.  I picked accounting when I was in college because I had to pick a major and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet.  I wish that I had taken a few years off from school and figured out what I really want.  If I had done that, right now I would have a degree that I’d actually use, instead of a giant pile of debt.

My job is great in that I get to have my hand in almost every aspect of running the I.T. infrastructure of a medium sized business.  Right now I’m focused on server administration and application development, but I’ve worked on routers and switches, SAN’s, backups, antivirus, VMWare, virtual desktops, telecom, etc.  My job is not so great in that the work environment can be pretty frustrating.

My boss is a huge fan of the Tony Robbins stereotypical motivation speakers.  He wants to improve and excel, and that includes every aspect of our work.  This is great when you first start working here. I like to improve myself as well, so I was looking forward to working for this guy.  The problem comes when he doesn’t know how to turn it off.  Every conversation turns into “I just want us to do better” and “we could have done this or that better” or “I know you’re trying but I just need a little more from you.”  One of these conversations is not a big deal, but when you get that every time you submit a completed project or a task to him, it becomes demoralizing.  We’re currently hemorrhaging I.T. staff, and it’s primarily due to how his management style tends to burn people out.  You never feel good enough, no matter how well you perform at your job.  I am totally on board with self-improvement, with providing excellent customer service, and continuously progressing my skills.  But I also need a little positive energy sometimes too, instead of always feeling like I’m almost doing a good job.    

I’m currently working on developing my web development skills in pursuit of changing careers.  It’s pretty intimidating, I have a good job with a lot of built in security and a pension.  Leaving the government position is going to be hard, but now that I know I have a passion for web development I hope that I will be happier.  The difficult part right now is finding the time outside of work to develop those skills.  I’m staring at a computer screen 40-50 hours a week, and it can be challenging to come home after a 10 hour day and go right back to a screen.  Not only a screen, but using my brain to learn new things.  If I didn’t have so much debt built up from my online degrees and my wife’s nursing school, I’d quit right now and spend those 40-50 hours a week learning new web dev skills and building a portfolio.  Alas, for the foreseeable future I’ll just have to slowly chip away at it.

Hobbies

I don’t want to go too in depth on this as I’m assuming this is the majority of what I’ll be writing about here on the blog.  Here are the big topics though:

Guitar/Music

I’ve been playing the guitar off and on for about 13 years.  My uncle gave me an electric guitar when I was a teenager and I fell in love immediately.  I love any kind of guitar based music.  My parents introduced me to a wide range of music when I was younger, but I always tended towards heavier guitar music.  In the last few years I got really deep into metal music, so that’s primarily what I’ve been listening to.  In fact, that bullshit faux-intellectual blog name actually came from me trying to find a unique domain name.  I was listening to this song and just played around with some of the lyrics until I found something unique.

Fantasy Novels

In my last post, I gave my personal reading history with some specific fantasy authors.  I got into Lord of the Rings when I was young, and it made a huge impression on me.  I’ve been obsessed with fantasy literature ever since.  I definitely enjoy fantasy over sci-fi, but I sneak in a sci-fi book here and there.  I view fantasy books like I view T.V.  It’s cheap entertainment that lets me escape the mundanity of life.  I don’t read these books to gain anything significant out of them (aside from Erikson and Bakker, those dudes have poignant perspectives).  I do read non-fiction sometimes as well, usually when I’m really interested in something in the news.  I actually just finished reading the Rational Optimist, which is a great book on how much better life is now than it has ever been in human history.  I read this after a particularly negative conversation with my mother in law about how dangerous it is to let kids play outside 🙂

MMA

I’m not big into sports.  I watched every Bulls game in the ’90’s, but outside of that I’ve never been very interested in sports on the whole.  The large glaring exception to that is MMA.  My dad has been watching the UFC since it started in 1993, and I’ve been hooked on it my entire life.  I am a practicing christian, but I watch MMA religiously.  I follow my favorite fighters/bloggers on twitter, I have an RSS specifically for MMA news, I watch every single event on Fox and on Pay per View.  I already posted about Cyborg’s most recent UFC win and I guarantee you I’ll be posting about big events pretty regularly.  Speaking of which, UFC 204 is this weekend.  Watch for that H-bomb.

Video Games

I’ve been playing video games all my life.  We were poor growing up, but every once in awhile my parents would rent a Nintendo from the video store for the weekend.  I eventually got a Playstation when I got older, and played games fairly consistently since then.  I’ve always tended more towards story based games over games that are primarily concerned with mechanics.  For example, I’d pick Final Fantasy over Call of Duty pretty much any day.  

 

Anyway, that’s probably enough background on me for the purposes of this blog.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m writing this blog for two reasons: to familiarize myself with WordPress in pursuit of a career in web development, and because I’ve been journaling recently and it’s helped me to express myself emotionally a little better.  I don’t intend to advertise this blog or make any money off of it, it’s mostly just for my own edification.  If someone ends up reading it, that’s cool but I’m not really interested in making myself beholden to an audience.  I’m just going to write what I want to write, and hopefully be a better person for it.

Get me out of I.T.

This post is about my current job as an I.T. analyst and how I want to shift from tech work to web development so that I can work from home.  I’ll likely create a post in the future detailing the specific web development I’m doing, but this post kind of catches you up to where I’m at professionally today.


Tech Work

I’ve been working as an I.T. tech for the last seven years.  I slowly worked my way up through the ranks and I’m currently classified as a senior analyst in our I.T. shop.  Senior analyst just means I work on bigger and more complicated projects than our regular techs.  I have a lot of great and varied experience doing help desk support, application support, hardware and software troubleshooting, networking, server administration, etc.  We’re a very small shop that supports an autonomous department of 500+ staff, so I get to have my hands in pretty much every piece of the I.T. puzzle.

This may sound like a great position to be in, but there are a couple problems.  The first thing is that I work with my father in law.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy.  He’s been good to me and my wife and I’m glad to have him in my life.  However, there is a line between work and home life that I need to have, and I’m  definitely on the wrong side of that line right now.  For example, the other day I came back from lunch and my wife was hanging out with my coworkers.  She had gone to lunch with her dad and stopped by the office for  a minute.  It was weird because I didn’t know she was going to be there, and if my wife is going to come to my office I would think I’d be the one to bring her in to meet the guys.  It also makes it weird when the guys at the office make jokes about sex or women.  My father in law is pretty old school about his daughters and he always acts really weird when sex comes up.  These are just a couple examples, rest assured working day to day with your father in law quickly becomes complicated.

The second problem I have with this job is my boss.  He started out as a supervisor, but a few years ago he was promoted to be the head of I.T.  I think he’s a great guy on a personal level, but he has a construction background and very little technical skill.  He likes to focus on things like write wiring diagrams when we move into new buildings, or installing new shelving racks for the server room. Those tasks are necessary, but they’re not a job for the director of I.T.  This is complicated by the fact that he kind of fell into this job, he has almost no technical skill to speak of.  He’s a good organizer, but he doesn’t understand a lot of I.T. concepts.  This makes it really hard to make good decisions as a group, as we are often guided by archaic or non technical thinking.

He also has this weird motivational speaker obsession.  He is always reading self help books and he’s obsessed with personal growth and excellence.  Again, this sounds good on paper but in practice it becomes difficult to be around day in and day out.  He’s constantly criticizing us, but he frames it in a motivational way.    For example, today a coworker and I were going to a meeting in the next town over.  We were going to be gone for a few hours.  Our boss was included on the invite and it was on his calendar.  My coworker asked him if he was riding with us, and our boss was upset that we were going to be gone for a few hours without saying something to him.  This is not anything out of the ordinary, we’re both senior staff who go to meetings out of the office all the time.  Our boss was included on the invite and he could easily see that we were also on the invite.  He criticized us for not telling him specifically that we weren’t going to be in the office for a few hours. If we this had happened on another day and he was in a  different mood, he may have said nothing at all.  Who knows, the guy is inconsistent and constantly criticizing us for little things that don’t make sense.

There are other reasons, but these two are the big motivators for me to want to leave.  I’ve been here for seven years and it’s time for me to move on.  My wife and I are trying to have a baby, and I’ve always wanted to work from home.  I’m trying my hand at web development because I think that’s the avenue where my skills would transfer most easily.

Web Development

I wish I had started coding a lot sooner.  Out of all the things I administer and work on in my current job, I enjoy coding way more.  I started by just googling how to make a website and researching the different programming languages.  There are a lot of languages for a web developer, I was kind of blown away at how many different methods there are for building a website.  I figured I should start with the basic building blocks.  I subscribed to Code Academy and ran through the HTML, CSS, and Javascript courses pretty quickly.  I really enjoyed the pace and structure of their content.  I am currently working on building website locally on my computer at home.

I’m not sure how to transfer this limited personal experience into a job making money.  I’ve applied for a couple entry level developer jobs locally but I haven’t heard back from anyone.  My wife just started working as a nurse, so I don’t mind taking a steep pay cut starting a new career doing something I have limited experience in.  I think my resume might be scaring people off, because it’s real weird.  I have 7 years of experience working as a senior analyst doing I.T. work, I have a bachelors and a masters degree in accounting, and I’m applying for entry level positions and internships doing coding.

I’m also having a hard time finding time to work on developing my coding skills.  I work 40 hours a week and it’s hard to motivate myself to work on it after I get home, especially when my wife is off.  It seems like the weekends would be a great time to work on it, but there’s always yard work, or chores, or a date night, or a family event, etc.  I know its easy to come up with these excuses not to work on it when I’m off work and that’s a failing on my part.  But with my wife making good money now, I’d really like to go down to part time at work and give myself an extra 20 hours a week to devote to developing my web development skills.  I doubt my current boss would ever go for that, but I think I might ask him soon.

My ideal job would be working for a company remotely from home so that I could (eventually, whenever the baby comes) be home with the baby when my wife is at work, and do my work in the afternoon/evenings or on her days off.  However, I feel like I’m just screwing around with this dinky website at home and because I’m not working for someone I’m not really making a lot of progress, at least not resume progress.  I’m not sure how to move forward with this goal right now, there’s a lot of risk and vulnerability with this path.  I’m hoping that I can figure it out soon though, I’m really dissatisfied with my current job.