Note: this post was written more than a week ago and forgotten somewhere deep inside the drafts folder. I edited it before publishing, removing all the embarrassing details and leaving just the conclusion.
I noticed a pattern a few days ago and now I can’t unsee it, so I’m going to share it with you. The thing is about job quality. The first job in my career was like this (back in 2007):
Position: one of the project fathers: admin, coder, hardware guy. You’re a one-man orchestra when you’re a founding father.
Employment: part-time (¼), mostly remote (but with epic meetings from time to time).
Mode: Hardcore startup – we actually did build our first server in the garage (I have photos if you don’t believe me).
People: Great people, lots of freedom, tons of experience.
Freedom: Choose whatever you think will work best.
Trust: It was fundamental to trust each other. We did review each other’s work if it was essential from security point of view.
Extras: The only job I ever had that paid for business travels – I even visited Amsterdam once and the company rented a vehicle for me – it was a bicycle, of course, but bike is The Way to move around in Amsterdam.
Fame: It was 5 years ago and people still recognize me as that Kosma from that project.
And there’s the last one (don’t cross-reference with LinkedIn or you’ll come to completely wrong conclusions):
Position: backend coder/architect.
Employment: full-time, office.
Mode: Young company, yet with surprisingly strict approach to processes and procedures. Worked on one of many projects.
Freedom: Barely any. Consensus-based EVERYTHING. Mandatory code review procedures, annoying git branching model, work time tracking, no root access for developers.
Trust: each change was reviewed by three people. We had to send daily reports (scrum, anyone?).
People: I didn’t bond with the team at all. They spent 8 hours a day staring at their screen, saying nothing.
Extras: quarterly bonuses.
Fame: Signed an NDA so I can’t tell you anything about that project. I think I’m allowed to mention the name.
This change didn’t happen from job to job; it was a gradual process of losing control, losing trust, becoming a sweatshop worker and earning more and more money I didn’t really wanted to spend because I was so tired, bored, almost depressed.
To make things clear: this is not the employers’ fault; the mistake is mine. Somewhere along the way I forgot what my priorities are. Chasing the stupid dream of earning more and more money, I betrayed my hacker ideals and sold myself – losing the integrity and becoming a whore.
Where do I go from here? The answer is simple: back. Not to the same employers, obviously – you can’t step back into the same river – but to the same kind of job: a place where your talent is put to the test via technological challenges, not via pleasing the management and passing Git hooks.