Fear of the real world

Working at the same place for your entire career has some interesting effects, probably no longer common amongst young programmers. I am not sure anyone wants to pursue a CS degree and then get a job with a big company and stay there for several decades before retiring with a pension. I mean, that world doesn’t exist anymore, right?

It’s not like I wound up staying at the same company for my entire adult life on purpose. I remember when I was hired full time that I figured I’d be gone before I was fully vested (the 5 year mark). Well, I was SUPER wrong about that!


So for me the big thing is fear. Fear that my job will be terminated, not because of performance reasons or a policy violation. Just suddenly and without warning and nothing to do with me. I have seen it happen, and I’ve come to believe that no one is ever “safe”, ever, not just at my company but anywhere. Maybe people with tenure at a University, not that anyone has that anymore, either.

I’ve also seen so many people struggle to find jobs after job loss. I’ve known multiple people with great job skills and experience who have spent several years looking for full time work. So it’s not just job loss that frightens me, but finding another job, or maybe never finding another job.

Slightly less fear

WordPress has, interestingly, given me the ability to relax slightly about all of this. Prior to falling headlong into the strange place that is WordPress I was convinced that I’d struggle to find another job if I ever needed to. Certainly I couldn’t find much at my current company, where I am one of three full time PHP developers in a massive sea of thousands of Java developers. I’m just not qualified for anything else that gets posted. I suspect now there’s some chance my larger organization would try to keep me and have me work on Angular projects but the thing is I might choose not to.

I can see a future now where I might have a choice. I read postings for WordPress developer positions and I am at least nominally qualified (on paper!). Not sure how I well I’d interview or if I’d actually survive very long if hired.

In fact it’s kind of an appealing idea…

Here is what I spend my time doing at work:

  1. Massaging my email inbox
  2. Grooming my fricking calendar
  3. Going to meetings!
  4. Being team lead
  5. Grooming Jira
  6. Taking over project management duties because our PM left and there’s no one else to do it right now (see 1., 2., 3.,  and 5.)
  7. Doing support work for our ridiculous 20 year legacy of intranet crapulousness
  8. Doing stuff for some other project I’m supposed to be 10% allocated to
  9. Maybe making some improvements to our WordPress infrastructure from time to time

Here is what I don’t spend any time doing:

  1. Writing actual PHP code, ever, much less getting to know WordPress as a framework

As long as I am making lists here is another one. Things that make my job stressful:

  1. Being frustrated that I can’t spend any time actually being a WordPress developer or a developer of any kind.
  2. The inescapable feeling that there’s a ticking time bomb in my inbox that I’ve forgotten about that’s going to turn into an angry user who cannot believe I ignored them for three months or something.
  3. Some other stuff, probably not relevant to this blog post.

This has kind of gone off the rails, I was going to talk about how my company is this little bubble world and it’s scary to think about being kicked out of the nice comfortable cocoon but then I wound up complaining about my job. This job stuff will probably pass, I mean I have ridden out way, way worse, but right now the idea of being a developer, like mostly truly spending my time being a developer, sounds pretty great.

Anyway, I guess the point is that after years of feeling afraid of being unwillingly booted out into the cold, cold world I can finally imagine a future in which that might turn out okay, or even sort of awesome.