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The New Gig - Six Weeks In

Sam Bridegroom  |  Posted Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 09:45:00 PM

It's been six weeks since I made my re-entry into the world of having a "real job", and what an interesting six weeks it has been. A lot of people have asked me how it's going, and it's gone pretty well. But it's certainly been a little different than I'd expected, for a variety of reasons. So here's my six-week eval.

Working for "The Man" (as it were):

It's been 15 years since my last New Employee Orientation program, and it's amazing how little it's changed in those 15 years. A day of tours, filling out papers, computer training (ha), and more papers. A second day of it the following week, providing more meaningful information about the hospital (which was interesting and useful). Even though I've been there as a contractor for nearly 10 years, there's a lot about the place that I don't know. I had also completely forgotten how many meetings can be called in a day/week - too many. That too has not changed much since my last corporate gig, but I'm going to do my best to try to improve that, at least for myself.

The Commute:

This has been one of the tougher adjustments I've had to make. I now start my day about 5AM, to be on the road shortly after 6 to beat the lunacy that is the normal AM commute. The plan is that it gets me out in front of the evening commute as well, but it hasn't worked out that way so far (but I am working on it). I've had plenty to do, so it's kept me at my desk/computer a little later into the afternoon. Throw on top of it the crappy weather we've had here in Central Indiana this year, and the commute has been a real treat. So far, the record is 3 1/2 hours to get home one evening, since apparently the City of Indianapolis is allergic to plowing snow. I realize that this has not been a typical winter for these parts (it's been a lot more like the winters I grew with in NW Indiana), so I keep reminding myself of that.

The topic of remote work comes up often. I think that's very possible at some point in the future, but not right now. There's a lot I need to get my arms around right now, and the best way for me to do that is in person. Once I can get a few routines established (and get on the right agendas/meeting schedules), it will probably be more feasible. It's not like I don't know how to work remotely, I've done it for them for almost 10 years and it worked out pretty well. In the mean time, I'll keep working on better sleep habits as my body adjusts to the earlier starts. The upside to it is that sleeping in on the weekend means 7AM - leaving plenty of time to get things done before the rest of the world is moving.

My New Role:

As I mentioned in my announcement post, my role has changed from being primarily an application development resource to being a management an project resource. I thought at the time that it's a transition I can make, and it still is; I do think it's going to be a little tougher and take a little more work on my part than I'd anticipated. I'm dusting off many of the management skills I developed in previous lives, and it's taking some time and effort to sharpen them again.

While I don't have any direct staff responsibilities, I kind of do when it comes to managing projects and the people working on them. I've had a few opportunities to inject myself into efforts that needed some nudging, and so far I've been able move the needle in a positive way. Unfortunately getting involved in these efforts is taking more time than I'd anticipated, cutting into other deadlines. My view now is much broader, looking at the overall impacts to the organization versus just how my projects are affected. I think I'm working on the right things, and nobody (so far) has told me anything to the contrary. But what I am doing is making new personal efforts (beginning this week) to do a much better job of managing my time. Again, dusting off things I've done pretty well in the past, I just need to exercise those muscles again.

On doing development work (or not):

This will be a hard change for me. Right now, I think I'll still have some development responsibilities, which is fine with me. Going forward, though, I see that diminishing. In a lot of ways, that saddens me because I like to think I'm relatively good at it, but I also know that not doing it regularly will make it that much harder to keep up with the changes needed to be really good in the field. I think I'm at that crossroads in my career where I need to decide what it is I'm going to do: write code & build application solutions, or help architect the solutions and build people. I think the latter offers more benefit value to the larger picture, so it's probably something I'm going to have to cede. I'll look for those opportunities where I can still "play" and maybe even contribute, but my guess is that my colleagues (looking at you, Abby and Laura) will at some point be telling me to step away from the keyboard for the safety of myself and others.

So, Was It The Right Move?

It's only six weeks in, but yes, I still think making the change was the right decision for everyone involved. Sure, there are some thing about it that aren't exactly ideal; show me a job that doesn't have that. The good news is that the less than ideal parts of it show potential for change in a positive way, so I'm willing to work toward that. I also feel like my contributions are making a difference, and I genuinely enjoy the people with whom I work. Those two things can trump what's not so great right now, as we work toward doing a few things a little differently to make things better for everyone there. It's fun and challenging to have a hand in that, something that would have been pretty difficult to do without making the change.

So here's to six more weeks of moving in a positive direction - certainly a more encouraging forecast than that rodent in Punxatawney PA gave us. If I have another 3 1/2 hour ride home, I might just drive straight to PA and declare it Groundhog Season.

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