I haven't really talked much about it, but I realized that I crossed the one-month point in my software architect job at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment this week. That it doesn't feel like a month is a good thing.
As my close friends probably know, I feel like a lot of the jobs I've had in the last five or six years didn't feel what I would describe as "career stage appropriate." As much as I liked Microsoft, this was especially true there. My last contract gig was definitely not career stage appropriate, but the money was ridiculous enough that I didn't mind being a whore for a couple of months. This job is actually perfect in terms of where I want to be. It is contract, so at the end of six months, I don't know at this point if they'll renew, convert to full-time or send me on my way, but it's good times at the moment.
I can't be particularly specific about what kind of projects I'm working on, but as you can imagine, there are the same kinds of problems you work on in any business, plus those you would find at any amusement park, retail outlet, restaurant, zoo and aquarium. I'm also doing more security and compliance stuff than I have before, which is nice to add to the stack. There isn't a ton of time for strategic activity, but we do work it in where we can. As a group of two people, the software architects have to prioritize pretty efficiently.
I don't actually write any code, aside from prototyping that I might do from time to time, but I do a whole lot of code reviews. In that sense, I need to make sure that I'm finding time outside of work to keep those skills up and be up to date on what's current. I suppose that has always been true, but it's even more critical now.
What surprises me is that a lot of people don't really appreciate how cool the work is, working for a theme park company. Maybe that's my inner theme park geek talking, but a lot of folks just see it as any other software gig. I've talked to friends in other places who observe the same thing, and it's funny because you see in various forums how badly people want to work in the industry. For me, I just never considered working in it because I never lived in a place that was practical.
The one negative about being contract is that I don't feel entirely invested or part of things. Like I can't just show up at SeaWorld or Busch Gardens and flash my badge. That bothers me a little. And since I can't really know what to expect in January, there's that lingering feeling of, "Is this going to last?" That's always the risk with contract work, but finding more work isn't an issue as much as a desire to stay in the business, if at all possible. The rat and Harry Potter are also hiring a lot down here, but I like SeaWorld because it has no parent, and it only does theme parks. Being a pure player gives it a certain amount of focus.
I'm enjoying the work and the people. This was a good gig to land.