The wheels are turning

We left off that I received an offer from Northeast Utilities. I was ecstatic. This was my first “real” job. A job that requires specific skills, not just a grocery store or some other menial job. So I get to the office on orientation day. This is the day where they get all couple hundred interns into the same room and tell you what the company really stands for and how to succeed in my internship. Eventually I am taken with 3 or 4 other interns by the gentlemen that had interviewed me. They dropped off each intern at distributed departments to further learn what real world coding is like. I was so excited — until they dropped me off at the help desk. “With your A+ certification, this would be the best fit.”, was their rationale. I protested and they said next semester, they would get me somewhere more that I wanted. There was nothing else I could do, this wasn’t my ideal job but it was my first foray into corporate America.

I was on a team of about 9 other help desk employees. Our job was to support all technical issues for the entire company. Nationwide, this equated to roughly 8000 employees. So from the hours of 7am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm, the phones would be ringing non stop. I excelled. I was the youngest person on the team, had lots of energy, had the drive to accomplish my goals, and handled more daily calls than any other person there. A co-worker/friend and I used to compete to get the most calls handled. They loved us there and would frequently get asked to take calls out of queue because we were requested by name. This same co-worker, we’ll call him John, who was a contractor, would routinely ask me to act like his manager for employer references. He was a great employee and highly liked, so I never fully understood why he didn’t just use me as a co-worker reference, but according to him, I had to be a manager to make the reference more legitimate. For him, it was more of the control aspect I think. He wanted full control over the outcome of his interviews and didn’t want any surprises.

I worked my internship all summer until it was time for the internship was over. I heard talk of some interns extending the internship through the school year, so I of course discussed the possibility of staying on the team with my co-workers and manager. John had given me the idea to negotiate a contract gig for Northeast Utilities through the head hunting firm that he was using. I immediately emailed his point of contact and suggested the idea to him. They went for it.

I began working as a contractor for a few more bucks an hour but basically was still in the same role. I continued to work this job while utilizing my free time to interview for roles focusing more specifically on development. In hopes of creating business connections, I would frequent the company directory and message developers and development managers asking for the opportunity to shadow them and see what this job is really about. I met with someone who I had a family connection with and worked side by side with him for a couple of hours. I was asking him questions about workflow, technologies used, system overviews, etc. This is where I first realized that this job is only difficult, if you make it difficult. There’s something that he said to me that always reverberates inside my mind whenever I’m starting a new project, “Always build your application for the web, only use desktop applications when the web cannot do what you need the application to do.”

I took these experiences with a heavy heart and channeled that fire building inside me to seek other employment that would allow me to create applications. I found that employment with the Housing Authority Insurance company as a software analyst/programmer intern. The wheels are finally turning.

Lessons learned:

  • Manager references are more legitimate. Use these before any peer references.
  • Never limit yourself into thinking xyz is impossible. It is improbable that most things are impossible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to shadow them to learn about various roles. In all likelihood, they will be incredibly flattered and will help you.
  • Modern careers are dynamic, don’t worry if your resume shows you jumping around a lot. Every possible flaw an interviewer can find, can be properly spun in your favor.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. –Ralph Waldo Emerson