If you’re a regular reader, you know my employer furloughed me at the start of April. It was due to bad economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I later learned the entire project that I had been working on for a year and a half got canceled. A few people who worked on that project kept their jobs, in order to clean up the mess left behind. But most of us were either completely laid off or furloughed indefinitely. I was in the furlough group.
I took the opportunity to enjoy a much-needed (albeit unpaid) vacation. I caught up on a huge backlog of projects, which I wrote about in my post COVID-19 and Me, Part 1. Springtime would normally be my favorite time to be out of work, and I badly wanted to take a few weeks to go camping and hiking in northern New Mexico and eastern Utah. But travel was restricted by order of the governors, not to mention it being a bad idea. So I stuck around home and had a staycation, of sorts.
I told myself that I’d enjoy myself for six weeks before I start looking for work. With generous unemployment benefits coming in from both the state and federal government, I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get a paycheck again. So I ignored calls and emails from recruiters altogether for a while. But after six weeks, it was time. I put out feelers with people I know in the software test engineering business, and started applying for relevant jobs I saw advertised on LinkedIn and Dice.
It turns out that applying for jobs yielded almost nothing. I got a few calls from recruiters at those companies, but only one or two ever went very far. Most companies that I sent my resume to – somewhere between 50 and 100 of them – never bothered to even reply. Then all of a sudden, a few other leads materialized.
You know the saying “when it rains, it pours”? Well, that’s what happened next. In the course of a week, I got job offers from two companies in the Denver area, plus the company that furloughed me asked me to come back. So I spent a week or so mentally weighing the options. Any of the three would be fun, rewarding, challenging, and interesting to me.
There was no bad choice. I felt very blessed to have so many options. In the end, I chose the job that seemed the most different from things I’d done in the past, in order to get the most opportunity to learn new things. That is important to me. So I accepted their offer by phone while sitting in the passenger seat of Brooke’s car at a take-and-bake pizza shop in Durango. (the pizza later that night was really good, by the way)
It’s a startup company, so who knows whether they’ll even be around in five years. They’ll either be hugely successful or they’ll go out of business. But in the meantime, I’m gonna do what I can to help them do software development smarter, and learn as much as I can while doing so. Plus, hopefully I’ll have some fun along the way.
I started the job this past Monday. My new job title is Test Automation Architect, which means being the technical and spiritual leader of the company’s automated software testing efforts. I’ve never had that title before, though I’ve played that sort of role to a smaller degree a few times. Part of the job will be mentoring more junior development and test engineers, and part of it will be building systems to run tests more reliably and faster. The ultimate goal, as always, is to get new product features into the hands of customers faster.
I’m not gonna mention the company name. I have been talking about the specifics of my employers less and less online over the past few years. But they’re based in Denver and work in the cybersecurity field.
It’s a remote job at the moment, like almost all software engineering jobs. At some point, people will start to work from the office again. But I made it clear that I want to stay remote even after the pandemic isn’t an issue anymore. I want to be able to travel and work at the same time. And depending on how things go in the post-COVID days, I may be moving away from Denver to someplace less expensive in the next few years. Fortunately, my boss is moving from Denver to Arizona this month, so he’s setting the example.
As I write this, it’s Independence Day, Saturday July 4, 2020. One nice thing about starting on Monday this week was that I only had to work a 4-day week and then I got a 3-day weekend! That seems like a great way to start a new job.
Wish me luck.