The Quest Still Continues…

Today is my last day at where I’ve worked for the past four and a half years.

Two months ago, I decided it was time to progress my career by seeking new employment. I have known for a long time that I was going to reach a certain level of skills  and experience with the place I was working to where there would be little room for further progression (at least, in the areas that I wanted to explore such as enterprise-level networking). Over the last two months, I successfully interviewed for the next stage of my career, which will eventually include networking detail for the school system of the entire county which I currently live in.

Last October, very close to the one-year anniversary of this website, I actually interviewed for a position with a different company as well. I wasn’t able to post about it because I didn’t want to rock the boat with my company in case things didn’t work out. In retrospect, it turned out to be extremely fortunate for me that I didn’t get the job because I realized later on that the job I interviewed for would have been very much the same as what I was already doing, just on a slightly larger scale. And I would have quickly reached the same position I was already in with no place to grow within the company because it was so comparatively small.

I’ve come to understand just how much career growth and progression really means to me. It doesn’t make sense to me to keep progressing at higher and higher levels of technical knowledge and have no place to use what I have learned. By working for the county school system, I now have a much clearer path of progression. I don’t yet know exactly where this is going to lead me, but it feels like it is a giant leap in the right direction.

My official start date is next Monday, but yesterday I was invited to a meeting of the entire technology department. I don’t yet know how often they meet like this, but the subjects covered made it feel like it was perhaps a quarterly meeting. The environment is unlike any place I have worked before. The entire meeting seemed to be very open and collaborative. This was also the first time that I have been in a room with 30 people where they ALL have technical knowledge and everyone pretty much knows what everyone else is talking about. I added my own input when I felt it was necessary, and I felt like I was both listened to (despite being the new guy) AND understood. It was truly an amazing feeling, so much so that I actually shed a few tears of joy after I got back to my car, because it really feels like my future is going to be very bright.

During this week I have been helping to orient the people who are replacing me. This has been very interesting to me for multiple reasons. One reason is that this is the first time I have ever had a hand in not only the interview process, but also on actually attempting to transfer current job knowledge to my replacements. Another reason is that it has helped to put into perspective for me just how far I have come in such a short period of time. Very often I underestimate my actual level of knowledge and abilities because I know what level of knowledge and understanding it is that I want to eventually reach, and my perception of how much further I have yet to go is tremendous. But at the same time, working with people who are not yet at my current skill level has really helped me to evaluate myself, and it definitely gives me a feeling of pride in my accomplishments so far that I didn’t have before.

I do thank my former boss for giving me the freedom to grow, and I thank the owner of the company that I designed the Aloha network for (it was my first complete network design that was actually implemented outside of a lab). I also thank Mr. Matthew Moran for his life-changing book which really lifted my spirits and helped motivate and guide me through every step of these processes in the last year or so.

But most of all, I thank my wonderful wife who has provided amazing support in so many different wonderful ways, such as letting me get and install a 45U telecom rack in the house (I’ve run across several people who are very jealous of this), for making sure that I don’t look like a dork when I leave the house, and for letting me vent both my frustrations and aspirations, among many other supportive things she has done for me. 🙂

Right now, the future seems very bright indeed.

My Books

glennbooksI used to have visions of a large glorious library, but as time goes on I find less appeal toward having a large physical collection of books. I have often wondered how many people who maintain personal libraries don’t really know their contents and merely keep them as a semi-public display of knowledge.

I like having virtual books. I used to maintain all of my ebooks myself in folders arranged by topic, but a couple of years ago I stated using Calibre to maintain the collection. I like maintaining a virtual library for two reasons: quick access and the ability to easily maintain a dynamic collection.

Quick access is an obvious one. It is wonderful to be able to carry with me a collection of books that I can quickly reference, whether by title, author, searchable content, or other means. However, I have found that maintaining a dynamic collection means a lot as well in a technical-oriented field. Certain kinds of books, while informative for a short period of time, can quickly become outdated and lose their relevance.

I typically encounter three to five titles to add to my collection weekly, and prune the unnecessary books every few months. I’ve noticed that this leaves my collection revolving around 500 titles, give or take a few at any given time. I acquire books that I think may have personal appeal or may be useful for reference at some point in the future, and then later I re-judge those titles based on whether or not they would have any actual relevance to me (if I had not already read them).

Like any collection, some books are essentially timeless and will remain in the library forever, whereas others could be considered “throwaway” books where I may read them a single time and then never look at them again. Those are typically tossed in each pruning session.

I still find it very amazing that we live in an age where a person can carry 500 books with them anywhere they go. Some people say they could never completely go virtual because, among other reasons, they enjoy the feel of reading a physical book. For me, I typically take notes as I read (which I also like to maintain in electronic form) so I enjoy the ability to have the book open on the right side of the screen and my notes open on the left side (I probably arrange it that way because I am left-handed; I’m not sure).

Besides, the idea of wandering around shirtless in a physical library holds little appeal for me. 🙂