So this is my last week working at the family company. (!!)
Whenever people ask me how long I've worked there, I say that I started when I was 12. I turn 24 next month, so that's about 12 years. Eek. It wasn't full time in the beginning, of course. I remember those early days pretty fondly. I was just sort of discovering technology... Microsoft Word, Age of Empires, Neopets. Dad taught me how to do what our company calls a "wipe 'n' type". He paid me $20 per wipe 'n' type and there weren't that many. But that was the start. From there I started visiting the clients with him, taking help desk calls, training new hires, growing all along into a pretty decent tech support guy. At the time of writing my title is Senior Engineer, but my title has changed so often the past couple of years I don't even think the company thought it wise to invest in business cards for me. Anyways, I thought I'd write briefly on why I'm leaving, and kind of say thank you to the company, which is really a thank you to my dad, for the past 12 years of my life.
Why, Pete, whyyyyyyyy????
Right. The big question. A lot of little reasons, I guess. What's that phrase, 'death by a thousand cuts' or something. I'm always reminded (mostly by sisters) how fortunate I am and how I don't even understand the incredible opportunity it is to have a job especially at such an early age, and to be making decent money, and to be able to work remotely, etc., etc. Absolutely! Working for this company has been crazy-good. I've watched most of my brothers-in-law on 'the hunt' for jobs over the past couple of years, and it does not look/sound/feel/smell too nice 'out there'. I got in to the family company without an interview, without even submitting a resume. I got on-the-job training for years. And I had what felt like pretty good job security :) I mean there was this one time where dad said he was gonna have to fire me if I didn't stop acting like a jerk by the end of the year. I guess I stopped because I didn't end up getting fired and nobody has really brought up jerkish behavior ever since.
But I suppose all the 'good' things about the family company have a shadow side that have always nagged at me in a deep place inside. I can't remember a time, no matter how well I was doing at work, or how much I enjoyed it, when there wasn't this voice in the background of my mind wanting me to get out of this company. I felt incubated. That's the only way so far that I've been able to express the feeling. I felt like I really would like to build a resume and sheepishly submit it and get rejected over and over and interview with a stranger and get embarrassed and get fired even, or "laid off" or whatever they call it, or earn a raise and be able to look my coworkers in the eye and know deeply that I am not getting any special treatment because of my blood. And I don't say that because my dad was blatantly nepotistic with me. I really do have skills in tech support, and I really did (usually) have more experience then the people we were hiring.
Anyway, I just kinda wanted to get out on my own. Felt like flapping the wings a bit. And maybe that's naive or maybe even ungrateful. I don't know. But it got to the point this year where I just couldn't keep ignoring that background nagging.
The other big reason was that I freaking hate IT support. Maybe I liked it a while ago but solving people's computer problems all day just sounds grosssssssss. I'm good at it, heck yeah. That's probably why I stuck with it for so long. But it's just not for me anymore.
And there are a lot of other tiny reasons that I didn't notice until I sat down and thought about it, kind of like a car alarm in the distance that you don't notice but now you can't stop noticing and you'd pretty much do anything to climb a tree and fire a bazooka directly into that noisy Buick.
What now?? ? ? ? Starbucks??
Not Starbucks. Maybe Starbucks. I don't know, Starbucks is okay I guess. I always kind of wanted to try my hand at being a waiter or barista or the drive-through operator at a Chick-fil-a, because I skipped all the regular teenager jobs while working for the family company. But no, I'm headed into web development. Turns out I really like coding. My dad introduced me to programming in the early days at the family company and I remember crazy-loving it. He and I would build all sorts of kooky things. And then I kind of phased out of it all and focused on tech support. I don't remember why I phased out of it. I think I spent a lot of time building something to factor large numbers in the hopes that I would win some RSA factoring challenge money and my program ran waaaaay too slowly and I think I got really discouraged about not making a quick 20k. You know teenagers. Reality comes and goes.
So about 6 months ago I got the bug to learn to program, specifically programming the back-end of websites. And when I get the bug, ya know, I dive in pretty deep for at least a couple of days before I get overwhelmed and droop around the house and give up on my dreams. But this time even though I did get overwhelmed very quickly, I managed to stick with it and just pointed the firehose of information at my face and found myself thirsty enough to get kinda good. And so in March I told my dad that I was looking to peace out and find a job in development. He took it really well. Like surprisingly well. And then I started building a resume and applying for jobs like a madman and a company liked my resume I guess, and I got phone interviewed and onsite interviewed and then offered a job and here I am in my last week at the ol' family biz. Kind of a whirlwind.
I'd like to thank... my family... etc...
Thanks for the job, Dad. Thanks for hiring me so early and giving me that huge chunk of non-academic experience. Thanks for teaching me everything you knew about computers. Thank you for honoring me publicly for the skills I have even though you're the one who gave them to me. Thank you for not firing me that one winter when I was 'being a jerk'. Thank you for teaching me to code, or more importantly, thank you for teaching me how to think like a programmer. Thank you for staying up late with me talking about whatever crazy math concept I was fascinated with that week. Thank you for fostering in me that love to create and tinker and tweak and hack and innovate and change. Thank you for teaching me how to learn, for teaching me how to teach myself. Thank you for letting me go so gracefully, without any drama. All sons owe a massive debt to their fathers that cannot be repaid, but I feel mine is even greater for the time you've invested in me this past decade. Thanks for being my dad, especially when my boss was being a pain in the butt.
And thank you to the whole team at the company. I almost feel like I need to apologize for how many times I convinced dad to overhaul our entire ticketing system or for how complicated things got in my efforts to uncomplicate things or for how often you heard 'The person at extension 701 is unavailable'... I'm gonna miss working with you all.