2011 - 2012 Year in Review

The last year has been quite a ride.  I changed jobs three times in a year, which is unheard of for me.  The first switch came when I decided that it was time for me to move on from the American Academy of Family Physicians where I had been for four years.  It was a good place to work, but there were certain elements there that I just didn't want to deal with anymore.  Add to that the fact that I wanted to work in an education related capacity I ended up taking a job with Greenbush. Greenbush was a very cool organization that worked with special and adult education, as we as acting as a resource for schools throughout eastern Kansas.  I was  doing field service maintaining computer and networks at several small education centers in NE Kansas, including a few prisons.  They worked on a tight budget, and there was always more that needed done than there was time and money to accomplish, but it was a very fulfilling job even though technically it was not near the level of what I had been doing.   I worked with lots of great people and really felt like I was making a difference, even though I did feel like I was being run a bit ragged.

Shortly after I started, the guy that hired me and was my boss was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away a couple of months later.   That led to some changes in the chain of command that were a bit different, not bad just different.  I was really trying to make some headway against the workload so I could find the time to really try to make some improvements instead of just putting out fires and was slowly but surely making headway.  Unfortunately, my wife lost her job during this time which put us in a real financial crunch since I had taken a considerable pay cut for the job.  Even so I wanted to stick with it.  I had a fair degree of autonomy and got to work with some really dedicated educators.

Even though I hadn't been looking for a job, I was still getting a couple of calls a week from recruiters from my earlier job hunting and someone called with an offer that I just couldn't refuse.  It was a contract position with the USDA, and it came with over a 50% pay increase.  So with a bit of sadness I resigned from Greenbush and went to work for the USDA.

That was quite an experience.  It was everything bad you would think of a stereotypical large government bureaucracy, but worse.  I worked with some great people, but it was almost impossible to get anything accomplished and everyone seemed to work under a cloud.  Over and over I was told by people that if you did something you weren't supposed to that they would fire you on the spot.  Everyone seemed so afraid of taking responsibility for anything or doing anything without express written instruction from above that it was really frustrating and depressing.  I had hired on as a temp contractor, with the hope that it would turn into a more permanent contract position in three months.  The timing was bad though and a major reorg and contract renegotiation hit at that time and everything ended up in the air with no idea of if I would get a permanent position or where it would be.  The money was good, but with no benefits, no stability, and no desire to work there long term, I started looking again.

I did a phone interview with the University of Kansas and thought it went well, but then didn't hear back from them for a couple of months, so I figured it wasn't going to happen.  I had been trying to get a position there for about eight years, and had one job offer that I had turn down because I couldn't take the pay cut, and another situation where they said they were going to make an offer, then the funding for the position fell through and I didn't make it.  A month or so later KU called me back for a face to face interview.  Once again I thought the interview went really well, but I didn't hear back from them, and after another month I reluctantly decided that I just wasn't going to get the call.

Things settled down at work a bit and I did finally get a "permanent" contract position with another company working in a different division at USDA.  It wasn't really what I wanted, but I needed to have an income and the pay was good.  Two weeks later KU called me with an offer, and it was a good one.  I felt kind of bad about leaving the job so soon after getting hired into it, but the overwhelming sense of relief at not having to go back to work at the USDA made my decision clear.  There was no way I was going to turn down a good position at KU.

So now I work at KU where I've wanted to be for several years.  It is a beautiful campus in a nice town, full of all the energy of young adults getting out on their own and starting to find their way in the world.  I have a great boss and my co-workers seem like good folk.  I am doing IT in a major university, which was my career goal when I went for my Master's a few years ago.  Things are looking pretty good at the moment.