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Thu - Jun 07, 2007 : 10:56 pm
tired
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Here we go -a-changin'-jobs again...
I've been strugging on how to blog about what's been going on, and I'm sick of thinking about it, so here I go.

About a month ago, I was sitting at my happy job, getting paid pretty well, liking very much, for the most part, the environment which I had been blessed to work in for the past 1 1/2 years, when an email came to my inbox from the UPHPU jobs-announcement list. I still am in awe that I even responded half-heartedly to this post. You'll see why. The email is below in italics:

SUMMARY: Utilizing a thorough knowledge of programming and server
software operations, develops custom programs written in languages as
Perl, C, C++, Java, Active X and VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling
Language) design to enhance user appeal and utility as well as the
site’s overall functionality. Creates Web front-end user interface to
new or existing database using a combination of HTML (Hyper Text Mark-
Up Language) and SQL, C, Visual Basic or other languages to make
business applications web accessible

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other
duties may be assigned.
· Responsible for developing and maintaining Nature’s Way
Website
· Oversee, troubleshoot and maintain the website
· Provide analysis and development for
· Analyze needs and write Reports with emphasis on supporting
Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Finance
· Consult with internal and external contacts pertaining to
various business requirements
· Stay abreast of current technologies and specifically
recommend strategic changes to improve all computer systems
· Suggest and promote the use of information systems to
fulfill corporate goals
· Work with vendors to ensure high quality and economical
service and supplies
· Excellent team player willing to assist department members
as needed and support corporate and departmental objectives

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: To perform this job successfully, an
individual must be able to perform each essential duty
satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of
the knowledge, skill, and / or ability required. Reasonable
accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to
perform the essential functions.

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE: Must have a Bachelor's degree (B. A.)
from a four-year college or university plus a minimum of four years
related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of
education and experience. Must have knowledge of XML and Visual
Basic. Knowledge of SAP functional configuration helpful. Possess
working knowledge of Microsoft Office application software.

OTHER SKILLS and ABILITIES: Ability to function under high stress
with a sense of urgency. Excellent troubleshooting skills. Excellent
interpersonal skills. Must be proactive and have self-initiative.
Must have excellent planning skills and the ability to be meticulous
in details. Experience both with UNIX and Windows based platforms.
Skilled in the use of report tools, ODBC, SQL and data warehousing to
store and/or extract strategic and tactical information for decision-
making. General knowledge of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with
emphasis in Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Finance and CRM is
essential. Familiarity with SAP BASIS would be extremely beneficial.

Location:
Springville, UT 84663

Salary/Wage:
55,105.00 - 91,509.00 USD /year
Based on Experience

Status:
Full Time, Employee

Job Category:
Information Technology

Relevant Work Experience:
2+ to 5 Years

Career Level:
Manager (Manager/Supervisor of Staff)

Education Level:
Bachelor's Degree

Email:
jobs@naturesway.com

Such statements as "develops custom programs written in languages as
Perl, C, C++, Java, Active X and VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling
Language)" and "Must have knowledge of XML and Visual
Basic. Knowledge of SAP functional configuration helpful." kinda made me queasy. I don't know JACK about any of those. Why in the WORLD would I apply for this position? heh... the phrase "only the Lord knows why" comes to mind, as I smile...

Yup, I felt that I should respond, and at the time - heaven was the only place where any knowledge was had about why. Here's my response:

To whom this may concern:

My name is Jason Jones, and I live in Springville, UT. I am a member of a Utah-based developers' group named Utah PHP Users Group, from which group I saw your employment opportunity.

I've been in professional back-end web development for approximately 4 years, and have a B.S. degree from UVSC. I excel in PHP programming, SQL, and most front-end technologies including JavaScript, DHTML, CSS, AJAX, and of course, HTML. I'm also familiar with Actionscript. I enjoy taking pride in creating code to evolve and become a well-oiled machine. I have used this pride to assist business models to excel through technology.

If my inexperience with VB scripting excludes me from this opportunity, no need to reply. If you're open to the possibilities of employing a hard-worker who knows how to use technology to further business goals unimpeded, feel free to contact me.

And there ya have it. After writing that, I honestly had no intention of hearing back from Nature's Way. Little did I know. Some time after (only a couple of days), I received this email:

Jason,

Thank you for your interest in the Web Developer position here at Nature’s Way. Please send your resume.

Thanks,

Andrea Clifford

HR Generalist, Nature’s Way

I didn't feel at all comfortable about sending them my resume, so I called Andrea instead. I told her of my situation with my current job as well as my feeling loyal to Truenorth Academy, for they really had provided me with a fantastic employment. She told me she wouldn't contact them, and her happy, direct, and honest approach set me at ease quickly - so I gave her a link to my resume. She said she'd forward it on to the head of the IT dept. Soon thereafter, I received this email:

Jason,

After reviewing your resume, we would like to meet with you for an interview. When are you available?

Andrea

I responded with this:

Andrea,

Thank you for this opportunity! And to think, I almost didn't reply to your original employment post.

As far as interview times go, I work from 9-6 in American Fork, Mon-Fri. Anytime around those hours would be fine. Assuming a 30-minute interview, sometime before 8:00am, after 6:00pm, or sometime during mid-day (around noon) would be fine. Tomorrow and Friday probably wouldn't work out during the evening hours, as I have prior arrangements. Tonight would work out great for me, come to think of it. Sometime around 7:00pm? Other than that, I'm pretty open.

Thanks again.

--Jason

I then proceeded to set up a first interview with Nature's Way on the 15th of May. The first interview went *very* well. The people in the room were very impressive in both their knowledge and demeanor. It was a *very* happy / light environment. We laughed as much as we talked. Good times.

At the end of the interview, they asked me if I had any questions, and I told them, "yes.... I do." I then asked them,

"Why are you even considering me a candidate for this position? I don't know anything about the technologies you employ here."

They then responded by telling me that it was more the experience and work ethic they were interested in, rather than the actual technology used. They then told me I could re-write the code using technologies I was familiar with, and if hired - it would be perfectly fine to ditch the M$-based technologies in favor of PHP and Apache.

So, I was happy, they were happy, and they proved it by asking me to come back for a 2nd interview the following week. So, I did.

The following Monday morning at 8:00, I went in for round two. When I entered the room, I noticed a person there who wasn't familiar to me. He introduced himself to me as "Ron", and I knew I had seen him before.

To keep this entry from becoming too elongated, let's just say that we both knew we knew each other, didn't know from where, decided to go on with the interview, about 2 minutes into the interview, I remembered where I had seen him. I had been interviewed by him before! To be hired by him! I was kinda scared, because they never called me back. So....

After the technical question pelting had ended with me able to answer all of em' aptly, I decided to let Ron know that I knew from where I recognized him. He squinted a bit, and then his face lit up. "I remember you!" He exclaimed. "I was interested in hiring you, but my partners were twits. We never really got much going for that business, anyway..." So... When he said that, I knew I was in a pretty good position.

As we parted ways, Ron told me that on a scale from 1 to 10, I perfomed at a "9" level at answering his questions, and that was that!

It would be that weekend that I would get a phone call from Andrea offering me the job at the rate I requested (which, at the time, I thought was absurdly high). I, however, never got the phone call. All I got was a very diplomatic voicemail which neither confirmed nor denied the acceptance or rejection of my employment there. So, I called her work phone, but she was already gone for the day. I then decided it was worth it to call her home. I googled her home number, and called it 4 times. The 4th time was when she answered, with a tone thinking that I was a telemarketer. I explained and apologized profusely, and as soon as she knew who I was, all was well. In in the end, she told me they were interested in hiring me.

I crapped my pants.

Then I went out and told my wife who was playing volleyball with my in-laws.

Anyway.... Pretty crazy. Man, I'm tired.

I then had to tell Jim, my boss, that I was leaving. NOT FUN. I ended up having to tell him probably close to 7 or 8 times that there was basically nothing within reason he could do to keep me there, simply because this job felt right. I also ended up telling Mike Gillespie (the CEO of Treunorth Academy) the same thing.... The reason for that decision has quite the story, part of which you arleady know.

You see. I never should have applied for this job. It was everything I wasn't interested in learning. Something prompted me to reply, so I did. The rest you know...

But, just because I know I'm supposed to take this job, doesn't make leaving Truenorth any less difficult. I love working with those people. I built an application which dwarfs pretty much anything I've ever done before. It's just been a great environment, and I don't want to leave it. But, I have to. God knows why, and I'm about to find out.

Tomorrow's my last day at Truenorth Academy, and I've gotta say, it's been one heckuva ride. Made a lot of friends, learned a lot, regained work ethic I knew I had, and was pushed to various limits within myself - and exceeded them.

We'll see what ride Nature's Way will give me.

Here's to hopin'!