Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Career Advice: Don't Give a Crap

For 15 years I've worked in tech, more or less consistently minus a couple years I took off to have babies.

The first 5 years I felt trapped and ansy. I wanted to get up, walk around, stop doing the grunt work. It sucked. But after 5 years, something strange happened. I gained competency and started to actually be GOOD at my job. Then I started to enjoy it, because I really had something to say when someone wanted to know how we should do something. And my ideas were... good.

I started to try hard to increase my position. I applied for manager roles repeatedly, only to be turned away. I was ambitious and wanted to further my career. I worked hard and I wanted recognition.

But, during those 15 years, after more than one sexual harassment-type situation and issues that women generally face--not being taken seriously, minimal understanding for mothers/parents and the challenges they face, I swore off tech forever. I hated it. People were mean. Environments were toxic and political. No one seemed to want to recognize any part of my contributions, much less promote me for it and I felt like I'd capped out on my career. I'd maxed my salary and my title. And it was damn hard with kids.

I swore off tech when I had my son. And then I begrudgingly went back to part time work because it was fairly lucrative and convenient. Plus, contracting meant no politics and no stupid staff meetings.

Then, I got divorced and I had to increase my hours to pay the bills. My job was good. My team was decent and I didn't have much of a choice.

But I also didn't care. My first meeting with my new boss (after an acquisition), he asked, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years." I laughed, bitterly, and said, "Not working full time in Silicon Valley, that's for sure!" I have a lot to say about how much burnout there is in SV jobs, how you can work and work and there will be no recognition and a layoff to boot. To my surprise, his response was, "Yeah. I probably only have about 5 years left myself."

And I continued not caring. Another boss asks how much I work. I carelessly tell him 30 hours. I tell him, "I'm so happy I don't give a FUCK anymore." Yes. I swore. To my boss. And I dyed my hair pink.

And, what is my reward? They love me. They REALLY love me. And this is the weird irony. I keep being praised, recognized, rewarded, and even promoted. And what have I done to deserve this? Probably, truthfully, been more dude like. I just don't care. I don't act like I care. I keep my head down, do what I'm told, use all the right words, and do my job. And, for some weird reason, I get respect. I am well-liked. I am moving forward in ways I worked my ass off to get to before and I have done nothing to make it happen. It literally has just HAPPENED. Like my boss is like, "you'll be the lead on this project." I always wanted to be a lead. I'd suggest it, make it happen, work my butt off, then nothing. Now, I don't even ask and suddenly I get what I always wanted. Super, super strange.