Skip to main content

On leaving the federal govt

A little over a year ago, I wrote about why I left Aquilent. Funny that I am now writing about why I left the federal govt (don't click that link!). Anyway, as before, I wrote the bulk of this post a few weeks ago. Enjoy!


Shortly before thanksgiving 2010, I started looking a new job. For fun, I decided to try USAJobs just to see what kind of government jobs were out there. I say for fun because I really didn't have any burning desire to be a federal govt employee. I mean who wants to take the jokes (my favorite is why are govt employees not allowed to look out the window in the morning? Answer: Because they won't have anything to do all afternoon!) and the low pay. Anyway, I found one that looked promising, applied for it with no strong hopes of getting the job.

As you can guess from the title of this post, I got an interview and got the job. I took the job because I was no longer interested in doing what I was at the time; the other company I applied to were dragging their feet and also because they matched my pay from the private sector (perhaps that's a sign I was underpaid :).

So today, as I have just 1 more day as a federal employee, I am looking back at my 15 months as a fed with mixed feelings. When I announced that I was leaving for the private sector, the general response was shock. Shock that I would give up the security of a federal job for the uncertainty of the private sector. While that may be true, job security has never been a reason for me to stay at a job. My top priorities are quality of life and the quality of the work am doing. If/when both drop below a threshold I can withstand, that's my cue to leave.

On the one hand, it really is rewarding knowing you are working for the public. It sounds cliche but it's true. On the other hand, the commute sucks! Having to watch as your pay is frozen for stupid political reasons sucks. Having to read as you and other federal employees are lambasted on the news and by politicians doesn't exactly make you feel like you're a worthy employee (going by some of the rhetoric you might be excused for feeling like you are stealing public money! Not that I ever felt like giving any of it back). Am sure everyone thinks "I won't let that nonsense on TV affect me" but it does. My sister is a lawyer and a federal employee...I don't know how she does it.

Seriously though, the biggest reason I left is because I felt like a tailor in a company that makes shoes. Even if everybody else there is talented, they are still shoe makers and have no clue how tailoring works. NIH is primarily a research organization; for a researcher, there's no better place to be than at NIH (or FDA where my wife works and constantly raves about). But if you are a software developer, it's just not ideal (in my estimation anyway).

So was is it a waste of time going there? Not really. Perversely as it may seem, I am glad I did it. Back in Nigeria, there's something called National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which is a sort of Peace Corp/Teach for America thing. These past 15 months have been like my personal NYSC. Plus, I learnt a few new things:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

InfoPath & SharePoint (Part 1)

A departure from sports and politics. This one is about technology.

InfoPath sucks and SharePoint is the most expensive piece of crap ever. InfoPath, as a development environment, has absolutely no redeeming value. It's worthless and if your boss ever thinks of using it, you have three options:

convince him not to (not easy once he's been brainwashed by the Microsoft marketing presentations)use one of Al Gore's lockboxes to store away your sanity 'cos you'll lose it. Also, pad your estimates very generously. You'll need every bit of time you can get.
quit immediately while you still have your sanityFirst, InfoPath:

To me InfoPath is like programming in assembly language. Sure it makes it easy (too easy in fact) to bind data to controls. But it doesn't provide you with easy access to your controls. Why is this important? Say you want to disable a button:

in most technology: buttonA.enabled = false (or something similar).

In InfoPath, you simply can't do this.…

Technical Certifications are worthless

Technical certifications, especially in the IT field, are totally worthless. Why? All a technical certification prove is that you were able to buy a couple of exam prep books, cram them in a week or two and take an exam. My monkey (if I had one) could do that. I can't tell you how many times I have interviewed certification-carrying candidates for open positions at my company only to find them severely lacking in thorough understanding of computer science. I don't care that you have an MSCD or MCP or whatever it's called these days if you don't know foundational concepts in computer science and database design.
For example, I don't want someone who just knows that you store things in a hashtable using keys. I need you to know why a hashtable is better than an array in some cases. I need you to know when an interface is better than an abstract class; when to use recursion; the different kinds of joins and when to use each one; I need you to understand how crucial sou…

Does InfoPath (still) suck?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "InfoPath & SharePoint (Part 1)". Back then I had just started working on a project using InfoPath 2007. So, expectedly, the post wasn't very complimentary to InfoPath (or SharePoint). In fact, I said:
InfoPath sucks and SharePoint is the most expensive piece of crap ever. InfoPath, as a development environment, has absolutely no redeeming value. It's worthless.... (more)Since then my opinion of InfoPath has changed slightly. It still suffers from all the flaws I pointed out in that post. However, I think when used right, InfoPath can be an OK tool. I think it's well suited for designing one off forms and not for anything that requires complex logic or multiple iterations (like most software development requires). Alas, most CTOs fall in love with its point & click simplicity and integration with SharePoint that they try to use it to replace more developed technologies like ASP.NET. What do you get? A horri…