2008 was a really bad year for this country, and that extended to my personal situation. There were not very many jobs because of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and I was out of work.
Not only was I out of work, but I had managed to derail my career pretty badly. 11 years earlier, I made the decision to go into management. 4 years after that, I went into QA.
See, the thing is that once you are in management, or you are in QA, or both, people stop believing that you can be software developer. Not only that, the fact that aren’t developing software means that you aren’t keeping up with the most popular development technologies, like programming languages, or platforms. Or even entire programming paradigms, like object-oriented programming, or functional programming.
So, in 2008, most development jobs fell into the following categories:
- Java and web development. I had an academic knowledge of Java but no practical experience.
- C++ and system development, either on Windows or Linux. Yeah.
- There was this new thing called IOS and the Mac App store. It at least was in a language I knew something about, Objective C, but had no practical experience there either.
- Ruby-on-Rails and web development. No experience there.
All of those technologies were object-oriented, which I did not have a huge amount of experience in, either.
Another hurdle: what few development positions there were were in Silicon Valley or Seattle, for the most part. At least the ones I found that I might have a chance at.
I had not much experience with QA automation, either. There were some positions for that, but I was not qualified.
Software management positions were extremely rare, as most of those positions are filled from within, or by being a friend of somebody hiring one. And I had no friends in Austin tech. And, frankly, I had just failed as a QA manager.
And manual QA work basically disappeared during the Y2K scare. It’s the lowest-paying tier in the software world. Well, except for support.
I have previously mentioned that I had a friend in Austin who was very well connected in the tech community here. He did what he could to help me. I did get a phone screen from a startup called OtherInbox. Basically, the hiring manager did a lot of probing of skills, and I did a lot of trying to convince him that I was smart enough to learn on the job. I had not done web work, and I had not worked with Ruby at all, much less Ruby-on-Rails.
After a few days, I got an email reply:
It was nice talking to you also. At this time I don’t think there is a good fit for us because we’re looking for someone that is more hands on / less manager and because you don’t have direct experience with web-based applications. But I work with a bunch of other startups in town and will keep my eye open for any other opportunities!
Fortunately for me, I had been pursuing something since before I was fired at Lombardi. I’ll talk about that next time.