D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Tech Job Horor Stories

Thursday, February 2, 2006 7:39 AM

I was talking with a co-worker about the sad state of the small business market in the city I live in, and how they all, for the most part, seem to swallow up great talent, use it up, and then spit it out without any regard for how the employee is affected by the long nights, the lost weekends, and the commitment to company that never seems to be conveyed the other way. He said to me “How do you know this? What are you basing it on?”

I am currently in my 6th tech related company in 5 years. Not a personal stat that I'm proud of, but at the same time one that I'm confident isn't a reflection of my abilities as it is the types of companies that are allowed to run. Seriously, people should be forced to take business courses (including ethics and HR) before opening up shop. Some highlights from my experiences:

- Working from home for a company where the clock was always running (getting calls at dinnertime to fix things, working through weekends, etc.) but the payclock wasn't. When I left they tried to get out of paying my two weeks. To their credit, they kept me on while I finished my last term in school...but I'm pretty sure if I would have weighed the unpaid overtime to the time missed due to school, it would have evened out.

- Watching co-workers get scapegoated and let go by an untrusting, controlling boss, and eventually meeting my demise after putting in extra time to finish a project within deadlines and getting the “It's not you, the client wants to outsource” lie...on Christmas Eve. Ho ho ho.

- Applying for an ASP.NET and OO job only to find its classic ASP with an Access database and that OO stood for “Oh Oh” instead of Object Orientation; throw in having coffee with company VP's where they let you in on their plans to get rid of the CEO, and a VP of sales who would continually lament that we might not have enough to pay people (even though that never actually happened). Mix in a good measure of meddling, immature CEO and you've got three months of “Get me the hell out of here!“.

- Did you hear the one about the company where the owner used to be a car salesman/dealership manager and thinks he's a programmer because he wrote some VB code a few years back? Long nights, unreasonable deadlines, untrustworthiness, and high turnover...craptastic! In case you didn't know, its totally acceptable to bring your team in after a bad demo and scream at them at the top of your lungs. Did I mention this guy is supposedly a Christian?

- And finally, the “Family Business”, where everyone there is part of a family until issues arise, and then you're just an employee. However, its expected that “family” should help paint the new office and move stuff into it. And “family” would want to put in extra time to get stuff done, even though overtime isn't paid. And even after you think that you've parted ways civily, “family” will still try to screw you out of your two weeks notice.

The company I'm at now is very challanging to work in...mainly because I'm having to break all my old habits and assumptions that 5 years working for above mentioned yahoos have ingrained in me. My team leads actually want me to succeed and do well, and are entirely supportive for non-selfish reasons. My bosses actually care about the employees and, although every business needs to make profit, they get the “human” part of human resources. There's value in doing good work and quality for the sake of good work and quality, not just to add more money to the company bank account.

I know that you all have some sort of stories from your past that are eitehr good or bad...feel free to post a comment and share.



# re: Tech Job Horor Stories

no comment 2/13/2006 1:07 AM | elena

# re: Tech Job Horor Stories

Come on, D'Arcy. Remember the pendulum swings both ways. 3/19/2006 2:39 PM | Kelly

# re: Tech Job Horor Stories

<i>Did you hear the one about the company where the owner used to be a car salesman/dealership manager and thinks he's a programmer because he wrote some VB code a few years back?</i>

As a matter of fact... I think I DID hear that one. You forgot the bit about how working there meant you were also privileged enough to do freebie work on the side to set up personal computers for the boss's family, home network, church, and kids' school (and heck, if you were even really lucky you'd be duped into doing it thinking it was somehow work-related, and when you found out that it wasn't, any feeling of disbelief was attributed to the fact that you were "grumpy"). Oh, and there was always the exciting challenge of having a last-minute project dumped on you at a moment's notice. "Hey, I think we need a certain sports-related application... the client expects it in two weeks for one of their scheduled promotions. Oh yeah, and we've known about it for months, we just didn't think it was critical for you to know so far in advance."

But I'm not bitter... :) Because after all... working in such an environment might teach you valuable, lifelong lessons... like the fact that a single crayon can't create a rainbow, but together, many crayons can create a work of art. And if THAT wasn't inspirational enough for ya... just remember that work only comes before success in the dictionary! 3/19/2006 2:50 PM | T

# re: Tech Job Horor Stories

is this a story or what 4/10/2007 12:50 PM | sss

# re: Tech Job Horor Stories

Oh, its a story all right...one that's unfortunately all true.

D 4/10/2007 12:56 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

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