D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

To Thine Own Self Be True

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 10:56 AM
I get people asking me about going independent all the time. Why I did it, what the experience has been like, etc. One of the key reasons that I've gone off on my own is a strong view that many shops are basically slave/master relationships instead of true emplyee/employer relationships. Obviously not *all* shops are like this, but in my career I have somehow been able to hit every rest stop on the IT Interstate that had a malicious trucker or hobo waiting in the bathroom stall.

I bring this up because I got word recently of a former employer. This place was my first exposure to the world of software development. They were fairly new, with a head office in the states and a development shop here in Winnipeg. I got a gig there for my required 6 month co-op term and to their credit they continued to pay me through my last three month term at school...although to my credit, I'm sure that they still got a hell of a deal off me considering the obscene amount of overtime I worked for those 9 months and the discount off my salary that the government granted for employing me for co-op.

I left because I realized

a) They weren't interested in moving to new technologies (and my VP of Tech was oddlyl anti-Microsoft)
b) I was going to get paid far below what the industry standard was, even for junior developers ($24k)
c) They didn't offer any incentive to stay on as a junior developer with crap pay
d) The phone calls in the evening and *expected* overtime work got old fast.

Now I have friends that are still part of this organization...people that had been there even before I started there originally  or shortly after I got there (so we're talking 7 - 9ish years). And on Monday, some of those people...were fired.

Why? Because the company was sold. Sold to a competitor. And what did my colleagues get for their hard work? I'm not sure...but if I was a betting man, I'd say it was a whole lot of jack-sh1t. Years devoted to seeing a product that they really bought into the idea of come to fruition...only to be thanked for their help in making the company owner that much richer.

So what's the moral of the story?

Realize that your employment is only as safe as the value you bring to your company.


Realize that nobody is responsible for your success or happiness but you.

Too many get swallowed and eaten up. Too many in our industry burn out because we're worked to death like slaves for masters who ultimately have no concern about us aside from the tasks assigned and the deadlines required to be met. And many of this can be avoided if we took more time in evaluating potential employers and compared the limits we place on workplace encrouchment into our lives to the commitment a potential employer expects.

Stand for yourself. Respect yourself. Live your life, not one dictated by someone else. And to thine own self be true...otherwise you might be looking back at 7 years of your life with nothing to show for it but a pink slip.



# re: To Thine Own Self Be True

This is so true. You spend a good chunk of years working so hard to try and climb the ladder, and then the company sells out and if you havn't been treated right you get stuck with pretty much nothing.

I guess we are both in the same boat as far as self-employment. Have been enjoying it so far, and you don't have to deal with those slave/master type of operations.

Because really, you have no clue what your getting into when you get a job, you only realize it a couple months later when it is too late. 6/18/2008 11:18 AM | Brenley Dueck

# re: To Thine Own Self Be True

So true D'Arcy.

I'm thankful that I work for a company where I can make a real difference. My input into direction and growth is valued, I am trusted to design and develop incredible solutions to incredible challenges, I am able to mentor and pass along what I have learned.

The great thing is that I am not given limitless freedom to create my solutions. I submit my ideas to a rigorous process where my thinking is comprehensively challenged - the end resut being that my output is of significantly higher caliber than if I were to do it alone. I am not only allowed to spread my wings, but am actually encouraged to do so, in fact frowned upon if I do not.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

6/18/2008 1:46 PM | Shaneo

# re: To Thine Own Self Be True

Shane: Yeah, I'm glad your place has grown into a more mature organization.

D 6/18/2008 2:05 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: To Thine Own Self Be True

I think you have a point, although I might also question the loyal employee who would continue to selflessly devote themselves to a workplace and process that isn't fair nor particularly effective (unless you consider mandatory OT to rush deadlines to be an effective process).

There is always a choice to try to change said environment and improve its processes, or to have the foresight to change the scenery and get out so that the developer isn't left with an archaic or limited skill set to list on their resume. There is nothing more sad than interviewing a dev with 10 years of experience who cannot even answer some basic dev questions.

Continuous professional development, and the ability to be slightly mercenary in one's approach to work, is not a bad thing. 6/18/2008 8:46 PM | Mrs Loquacious

# re: To Thine Own Self Be True

Justice, why did you leave a comment under your wife's name?


D 6/19/2008 8:06 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

Post a comment