On Settling

I just renewed this domain name, resolving that I need to post here some more. As could be inferred from the dearth of posting hereabouts (and as was more explicit on Twitter, I found myself employed toward the end of February. Substantial pay cut, and a job not very well suited to my strengths. So why did I take it, and nearly a year on, do I think it was the right thing to do?
Short answers: Desperation; and I don’t know, but I’d do it again.
Longer answers: After more than a year on the market, I was sick unto death of the drill. I had gotten at least to the phone interview stage, and frequently to the in-person interview stage at nearly every place I was remotely interested in working, but had not managed to close the deal. I think in a couple cases, I may have priced myself too high, which certainly contributed to my willingness to compromise for my current job. But why would I take a job that’s neither what I want to do, nor am especially good at (when I say I am not especially good at the job, in this case, I mean relative to my own skill set: it is far from what I’m best at, but I can exceed the job requirements nearly literally in my sleep)? Two primary reasons, that are really the same reason: so I can make the job what I want it, and so that I can look for another job while getting paid.
So how’d that go? Mixed, I’d say: the job stayed the same for ten months, at least nominally, though was able to insert myself into design discussions, with decreasing resistance. And recently, I’ve been elevated nominally to a role with greater responsibility. We’ll see in January what the first round of money increase looks like, and official “promotion” can’t come till some months after that, though it will supposedly have additional money attached.
So, really, that’s worked roughly to plan. And yet. The manager who originally hired me was completely disengaged, which contributed to it taking ten months instead of four or eight to get the job change arranged. There is appalling dysfunction in every area of the company I’ve seen. The best of the management structure are, in my opinion, well-meaning but ineffective. The worst at every level are parochial turf-extenders. It’s not really a place I enjoy working very much.
So why am I still there? Because it’s still preferable to unemployment, and because I haven’t seen anything preferable come along. My interviews in 2008-2009 convinced me that I’m not interested in being a developer for even a medium-sized software shop: for a DBA, I’m an outstanding developer; and for a developer, I’m a decent DBA(/DBE); but if you want a DBA or a developer, you can find many, many other better ones. And most folks who are looking for system architecture are either thinking “system” means “IT system” or think that intimate familiarity with the details of the system matters more than understanding the implications of design choices. And maybe the latter are right, but I prefer to think not.

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