Monday, 2 April 2012

"Can you tell us what you want to do next?"

After three months of working in a startup company I was laid off last Friday due "productive and economic reasons" when the company had spent the startup capital without landing any customer projects. That's ok, I knew and accepted the risks when I signed the contract papers. This morning I had a job interview and to be honest about it, it did not go very well. To put it simply, I sucked.

Over the last fifteen years I have been a developer (junior -> senior), an architect (software-, information- and even dabbled with enterprise-), a tester (briefly, thank gods), IT support (never again, thank you very much), a scrum master, a product owner, a team lead (for a scrum team and an for an Indian offshore team), an entrepreneur and a partner in a startup. I have worked in R&D, I've done subcontracting and consulting. I have worked in Finland and in USA. I have been in startups, small and midsize companies and in large international ones (about 15 companies in total, if I include mergers and similar). I can claim to own some practical experience about telecom, online gambling and games, among other business domains, including public sector. And let's not even go to personal experiences during these jobs.

I think it is fair to say I've been around and I'll buy a drink to the first person who can claim to have been around more in his or her fifteen years of working life - I'm sure it would be appreciated :)

So there I was this morning, sitting in this small loudly echoing room with a "Junior Recruitment Consultant" who with a smile asks what I want to do next? I sat there, looking her while I drank my coffee and thought "fuck me if I know - can't you offer me something interesting?" As it turns out, it is difficult to provide a convincing answer and project confidence, professionalism and determination when one does not know what the answer to the question might be.

The problem - at least for me - is that no role or position has any intrinsic value by itself. What actually matters - at least to me - is the purpose of the work, not the work itself; the goals of the work, the things the work is meant to accomplish. Instead of talking about these things in job interviews they keep asking if I want to be a developer, an architect, a consultant or something else. It's like asking a carpenter if he likes to to nail 2x4s together all day - a good carpenter might say "no, but I do like building houses".

So here it is: I don't want a job title, nor do I want to be a performer of a specific task. What I want is a job with a purpose, a job that exists to create or accomplish something of value. I want to have a job that means something to me personally, that I can be proud of and if at all possible, would in some way make the world a little better place for all of us to live in. If it also allows me to pay my bills at the end of a month, that would be awesome.

Am I asking for too much?

I'm tired of being <insert job title here> who just does "stuff". Offer me a job with a worthy goal, and I will do whatever needs to be done to achieve that goal and make sure things are done right.