Thursday, August 28, 2014

Try something hard "for the win"

I recently moved on from an amazing company that is providing a superior service to the planet, though they have not really been recognized for it ... yet. Most people don't even know what a CDN is, even though most of us access data through one every day. That technical environment is very unique, and there are not many jobs and skillsets that can prepare you for life in this most original of  infrastructures.

So I thought maybe I should spend some time working there, if they would have me. Forget the fact that my Linux experience, necessary for about 99% of the work, was almost non-existent. Never mind that I had never worked for a CDN. And let's not focus too much on the fact that I am primarily a Microsoft technologist. I wanted a challenge, they wanted fresh, raw talent, and boy did we have some fun.

I spent months learning the most basic tasks, endeavoring to become an "expert" in as little as 6 months. I would like to tell you that I was a superstar, experiencing the kind of success that typifies most of my IT career. But, truth be told, I often felt surprised that I had not received that dreaded notification that my "services were no longer needed". That is not to say that I was horrible at my job, but focusing on a variety of new skills while surrounded by world class engineers and architects can skew your self-perception a bit and shake your confidence. Still I held on for 16 months because, hey, I really liked the company, I still believe in it, and I wanted to participate in what I believe is it's imminent breakthrough in the market. My customers seemed to really like me, despite my own (in my mind at least) shortage of technical skills but, more likely, because of the amazing team support I received... ok, plus maybe some of my customer service skills, the only real asset that I felt I had added to the equation.

But then the call of the "Windows" pierced my penguin-y existence, and I got that offer that just could not be overlooked. Go back to my core skillset, the one I love so much and, I humbly confess, I am so much better at when compared to bears of averageness. Be well compensated and have the chance to be a "guru" again. How could I resist?

But I would not trade my fire trial in the CDN world for anything. I added a big lump of open source knowledge to my bag of tricks (and I really LOVE some of those tools now), and I got a fresh perspective on what it really means to work hard. Most of the time, working in my base, I know 75-90% of what I need to know, and I just merely need to design solutions around that and implement them with minimal research. But spending almost a year and a half in constant "ask and learn" mode taught me that it's really nice to be in your own wheelhouse.

I surely love new challenges and adventures, and no doubt I will keep a weather eye open for some other unique and possibly "crazy" opportunity. I consider it a major success that I survived this intense experience and might have even contributed some value along the way. It feels like a win for both the employer and me. I tried something really hard and didn't fall flat on my face, even though I often felt like I was running at full speed down a steep hill.

But it's nice to be "back home", and I think I will hang out in my "comfort zone" for awhile...

Have you ever tried something you probably had no business attempting? :)

"Why is the rum always gone?" -- Captain Jack Sparrow

- Peter Trast, MCITP EA, MCITP DBA, MCT LinkIn with Peter

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