So, it's time for something new...
13 years ago, while finishing up a short contract for JBoss, I interviewed with the Apollo Education Group. I was interviewed by 5 people at the same time and... it was a surpisingly tough interview. At the same time, I had no real pressure on me because I had another offer on the table already. I wound up doing pretty well and, more importantly, actually asking a lot of questions myself.
I'll never forget that interview, not because of how challenging it was but because I was able to just talk to them, and I immediately liked this team. We had a connection. They were smart, friendly, articulate and excited. The work they were doing was interesting. Further, the basic idea of expanding available higher ed and lifelong learning was a thing that I could feel good about in ways that I couldn't about a lot of other jobs I had interviewed for. And so, when they made me an offer, despite the fact that it paid less than the one I already had in hand, I happily went off to work with them instead.
Over the years, the precise aspects and focus of my job itself have evolved a number of times as things have shifted around but, it's almost always been around something "core" and generally closer to users than to say crunching numbers and processing data or machine learning. Nearly all of my work has been in larger efforts, working on central projects. Over the years, this has afforded me many unique challenges and the opportunity to work with a lot of teams and people on a lot of projects with very different needs, skills and legacy. As such, I feel like I was afforded the opportunity to see a lot that many never get to, and to try to help make things better.
This, in turn led me to actually get involved with Web standards instead of just following them and then to talk to even more people about the things that matter to us all and ultimately to try to improve how we approach standards themselves. At this, I feel that I have been reasonably successful. There are many and complex reasons why I stayed at the same place for so long, but no small part of that was I have always felt a real connection with a number of the people there. The aims and visions expressed and established in that initial interview really stuck with me.
The End of an Era
But all of this is prologue. A week ago, my (former) company had a Reduction in Force, (aka layoffs) and I was affected. It happens. So, it's with somewhat mixed emotions that I move on. On the one hand, it will be hard to say goodbye to a lot of friends and let go. On the other hand, moving on and finding new opportunities can also be good. When word came to me, I was with a number of friends in the industry. Each of them were kind and sympathetic and I'm extremely glad to have been in their company at the time. Many offered to connect me with someone, but all had the same question: "So, what are you looking for? What do you want to do?"
The funny thing is that it forced me to realize rather suddenly that it's been a minute since anyone has really asked me this question. As I look around the industry I see that many of my friends careers have gone down slightly different and interesting paths that sound very intersing to me and that I think I might be interested in. It's kind of exciting to be able to consider something slightly different. Advocacy and relations, for example, are pretty different from what my day job has been, but they are a thing that I do outside of work and the idea of being able to give that my focus is super interesting! Or, there are a ton of ways to skin accessibility challenges that could be really interesting too. Working on an accessibility product could be interesting, for example. Or working with a CMS vendor to embrace modern standards and find ways to improve things like offline, performance or accessibility - those could be fun too. But those are just some examples - I kind of feel like there are many things that I could do and manage to bring something interesting to the table, and to be happy... So, I'm thinking about it.
So... Now What?
Well, I've begun making a list of things that are kind of important to me...
- Remain remote. I have been a fully remote employee since 2009.
- Continue in standards work with some kind of support, even if very limited. That is, at a minimum it can't be actively opposed to the idea and ideally would not require my only involvement to be through nights, weekends and vacations.
- Interact with other developers. One of my favorite things to do is talk with other developers. I like to share and to have people share with me - to find what pain they experience or thoughts they have about something people are talking about.
- Do good. This can take many forms, but ultimately it is what compells me to work on standards, it is what compells me to be interested in accessibility, and so on. I'd like, at the end of the day, to feel like there is some value in what I do that goes beyond a simple bottom line. I would love to be able to advocate.
- Be intellectually stimulated and work on interesting but not entirely foreign problems. That is, I'd like to keep it about the Web, but the Web is a big topic with lots of interesting areas. I'm interested in the possibility of perhaps working from perspectives that I haven't before.
So, that's it... Luckily I have a little breathing room to take a beat and hopefully find something I love. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have them: If you know of some place that has a need that you feel like I might be good at, let me know. If you hear of something you think I would particularly like, I'd love to hear about it. If you know of a company that ticks some of my boxes, I'm all ears. If you would like to connect, here's my LinkedIn Profile. If you're looking for a resume, I'll try to keep some links here updated and filling in. For now, here's a (work in progress) resume in .pdf form.