Contingency planning

resume, cv, firing edit

A friend near to me was let go today at work and I'm still feeling raw about it. The metaphors that jumped to mind were funerals and deaths. I'm sure he'll do alright; he's a super-smart guy and was a ton of fun to work with. But I'll miss him.

The thing is, people stay here at PEMCO for years and years. It's not uncommon to celebrate 10, 15, and 20+ year anniversaries regularly. Which means you might be a bit stale when you leave. Am I stale? Am I marketable? Am I battle-tested?


When I was in my 20s and first living on my own I felt the need for some socialization and structure. My Highschool friends had mostly gone away to college and I was working through two years of community college with a plan to transfer... somewhere later. I took a PE elective of Karate since I needed the credit and found I liked what it offered. Just one of the things I took away was the idea of zanshin which I understood as the followthrough of a punch.

Picture yourself punching a punchingbag. Do you reach out and tap it with your knuckless? A movement with followthrough extends through the punchingbag with the expectation that your movement cannot be stopped and will continue on the other side of the bag. Visualizing this way in a sparing match gives you more power against your opponent.

Perhaps it's hubris, but I've come to think that I can overcome many of the challenges in my way by being committed to the cause and giving my whole self to it. I think that an employer, and even moreso a friend, wants someone with them who will sink or swim as a team. Someone who leaves it all on the field. Someone who cares.

The opposite of this is appathy and a paycheck.

Sharpening the Saw

I was transfered out of my Development team and into our DevOps team in February of 2023. It was scary. I'd built my identity around developing software and all of a sudden I was surrounded by Operations guys that swore a lot more than the old team and just had a totally different flow. It was all about tickets. And everyone was in their silo.

It's been eight months now and we've gone through the storming and norming to get to the performing. I write a lot of terraform and occasionally some PowerShell. The problems now are cloud infrastructure problems but the science of troubleshooting them is substantially similar. I'm comfortable enough to share my personality with my new teammates and they haven't rejected me.

Hanselman suggested in a blog post to keep sharpening the saw by which he meant to go out of your way to keep learning. Find that edge of discomfort and occasionally tip into that feeling. Read about the Kubernetes ecosystem and feel queasy. Write some JavaScript and get angry at prototypical inheritance until it starts to gel.

The opposite of this is a fragility.

Consultant Mindset

I graduated in 2008 with a CS degree from the University of Washington's branch campus in Tacoma. I'd gotten married the year before and was ready to start life as an adult. Heh, kids were another decade off but a global recession was just around the corner. The first gig to say "yes" to me was a tiny consulting shop in Kirkland that had one and a half developers and was looking to expand.

Mahendar was the senior developer assigning out work and reviewing it when I was done. Everything was in C# which was close enough to Java that I could pick up the syntax in a day and the tasks were really not too hard. I learned the agile method over the first few months then got the news that Mahendar was moving on and we were back to one and a half developers. For the 20 hours a week that Vishnu wasn't there I was the whole department.

I was only with that company for 3 or 4 years. In that time I learned that when most of your paycheck comes from billable hours it pays to 1) build good relationships, and 2) always be looking for new work. I found quickly that I wanted at least two medium sized projects on my plate in case one slowed down and a backlog of eager potential customers. If I ran out of work I had to fall back on #1 and work the relationships I had to drum up new work.

The opposite of this is complacency.