Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The IT Person's Dream

I've always kind of sucked at life. There's no franker way of saying it. In terms of a personal life, I've just been really bad at it.

In which case, it became about work. The validation from work is brilliant! That's what tends to get me up in the mornings... except that it also leaves me wide open to some god awful depression if I find myself unemployed and generally un-useful to anyone. If only I could get up and make a living from writing (this really is just a bit of stress relief for me).

Basically, when it came to work / life balance, there was no such thing. I didn't really bother with life. I'd get into situations where I was working crazy hours (I remember going home to get a little sleep on one occasion just as everyone else was getting into the office).

I.T. can be a very impersonal and boring job. I mean, really... Quite often you're surrounded by a bunch of people who refer to you as "geek" (or have that condescending look) - and not in a friendly way. Because you spend a great deal of your life sitting, and doing your best to keep calm and collected, you're often perceived as "not working" (when working in a factory environment this was the prevailing opinion of what I was doing). You quite often work with quite a vast array of people who fit quite snuggly within the autistic spectrum.

In terms of job satisfaction, it can be a great big let down. For me, one of the biggest bits there is feeling limited by money. The problem is this:

Imagine you see something. This something is very cool and if you can bring it to fruition will have all sorts of really great benefits. The users are more empowered, the nerds (yourself included) probably won't be needed quite so much and overall it'll be a saving to the customer.

The customer doesn't want to invest and doesn't see your vision, the company doesn't know how to pitch it, you're not given the time to do it and you start to resent having to do something that feels repetitive when you could have just fixed it...

So with Manaiakalani it was always my approach to design it first and implement it, and ask if it had any value later on. This tended to backfire.

The stuff that they did see value in, they didn't value because it was just there. The bits that they didn't see value in were suddenly huge bits of value when offered by... Google for example. I found myself being really irritable when told that the image I had built wasn't scalable because they didn't realise the scope with which the image and the tools around it had been build.

There has to be a better way.

What if you were to become the master of your own destiny? A friend recently let me know of a few jobs going at his workplace. I really appreciated it except... I'm hoping to get some momentum as a contractor. This is what most I.T. guys would rather be doing. Being able to accept and refuse jobs on their terms. Spend a minimum of time at any one location and instead have a variety of work. Being able to work at extremes but after a week or two, have a break and spend some real quality time with the people they care about.

In this way the relationship between you and the customer is more interpersonal. They're more willing to listen to your ideas around what you think might be in their best interest and they can tell you directly why it would or wouldn't work.

That friend? He replied back that he'd always thought about doing the whole contractor thing as well.

Of course, there's the downside to all of this. The paperwork. The taxes and figuring out GST. Finding the jobs. On the plus side, you're empowered to help and empower others... Now that's a trade off I can make.

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