Friday, January 2, 2009

Fun at Work

I'm afraid of being found out.

Seriously, I don't know that I've ever had so much fun at work. Don't get me wrong, I loved working at Guru Labs, but the situation is different here. Let me explain.

At Guru Labs, my bosses seemed to have very realistic expectations of me. They hired me, fully knowing that I had gaps in the technical knowledge that they needed me to have. The promise was that they would help fill those gaps, and I would be ready to teach by the time I needed to. If I was not, then they would give me the opportunity to work elsewhere.

I met the challenge, and before long I was knee-deep in Linux knowledge that I never expected to obtain. There were always new things to learn, and I was always surrounded by people willing to teach me. At the same time, I got to be that person for about a couple dozen students a month. I was having a blast, and I wasn't sure I ever wanted it to end.

There was just one problem. As much as there was to learn, it sometimes seemed like there was never time to learn it. There were always classes to teach, and there was course ware to write, work to be done. I was constantly surrounded by cool new technologies that often felt barely touchable. And suddenly, it was gone, and I was left to look for another job which could never hope to be as much fun.

Fortunately, I had prospects in the queue. By the end of the first week I had applied at close to two dozen companies, interviewed at three of them, and had an offer from one of them. By the end of the second week I had already started work at my new company, and was still politely turning down interviews.

I had actually turned down an offer from this company at the same time I originally accepted an offer from Guru Labs. I had a friend that worked there, but I still had to get hired on my own. When I started, I think the idea was for me to watch my new coworkers and get a feel for what needed to be done. They were programmers who had been doing system administration when it was called for, but it wasn't their thing. Thanks to Guru Labs, I was well-trained in system administration and I just kind of took over.

This is a company who was small (maybe 20 employees) when I first interviewed, and who is now in the process of growing into a larger company (60+ employees at this location, plus the warehouse, plus the call center in Chicago, etc), but who still has the kind of server setup that one might expect at a small company. I have taken it upon myself to make the servers enterprise-grade.

This means I get to play with all of the technologies that I didn't really get to play with before. Well, not all of them, but increasingly more. One of my current projects involves four RHEL 5.2 virtual machines installed on my notebook using KVM, which I am using to test out different MySQL Cluster configurations. This week I also started playing with Cacti, and Nagios is on the horizon.

One day I looked at our current backup server and decided that it needed more hard drive space. Really we needed a brand new backup server, but I was willing to settle for a new hard drive. My boss came in to talk about it, and by the time he left I was pricing out components for a brand new backup server. This is not the first time I've had a boss that knew less than me about what I did, but it's definitely the first time a boss has not only admitted it, but taken my suggestions on what needs to be done.

To be honest, I'm not used to this. I was hired based on technical merit and experience, and then given what feels like free reign to do whatever I want. I don't really have free reign, but it feels like it. My boss realizes that I know what needs to be done, and he's willing to let me do it. He doesn't have some kind of personal agenda, he's not caught up in a power struggle, there's none of that. He's trusting to me do what he hired me to do, and his only concern is that I stay focused on the best interests of the company.

It's so weird. Nearly every day when I drive home from work, I am elated about what happened that day and what's going to happen the next. Actually having my opinion listened to on such a regular basis makes me feel like a rock star. And yes, I'm a little worried that I'm going to be found out. Every so often I wonder if my boss is going to realize how much fun I'm having actually doing my job, and start charging me admission.

I still miss Guru Labs. I certainly wouldn't be in the position I am now without the expert training and unparalleled opportunities that I received there. But I guess fate (if you believe in that sort of thing) decided that it was time for me to cut my teeth elsewhere. I guess it truly is bitter-sweet.

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome to hear man. Having the ability to strut your stuff and also be able to be authoritative in what you do is so nice. It doesn't happen often enough for me, but when it does it really lifts my day!

    Good luck in your new job.


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