Plan A and Plan B in 2013

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 7:09 PM | comments: 0

As I wrote previously, we started to figure out how to move to a better situation a decade ago. Another Cleveland winter was not in the cards. Work and career didn't really figure into it, exactly, unless it did. Plan A was to move to the Orlando area, with no specific job in mind. I was working a contract job at an insane rate and banking a ton. I hated the job, and was about to bail on it. Plan B came up rather suddenly, when I got a call from a recruiter at Microsoft for a program manager gig. On May 16, 2013, I found out I didn't get it. I can't say that I was surprised.

I can't exactly generalize about Microsoft because it's a huge company, but those PM interviews, of which I've had six and landed one while I was there, were always the same. They were set up to walk through a contrived situation, sketched out enough to start a conversation about what one would do, but too thin on details to be well understood. The idea is that the people you're interviewing with can see how you think and collaborate. They will insist that there are no right answers, but there are. Having autism doesn't mean that you can't respond to uncertainty, but sometimes it does mean that it's hard to get beyond what I call an irreconcilable situation. I talk about this all of the time in the context of Simon, where "I want to do a thing" and "I can't because Dad said so" simply causes a brain block that makes no sense. I had another interview like this at MSFT the start of last year, and I disagreed with the entire premise, so they wanted me to defend something I didn't think was right in the first place.

What bothered me most about this is that no credence was given toward what I had achieved in the past. Had they talked through actual situations, I could have easily demonstrated my ability toward non-abstract things. And good interviewers know how to fish for bullshit. Fortunately, this opportunity a decade ago was more like a bonus option. We were always leaning toward Orlando because of the lower cost of living and total lack of winter cold. With that contract job at the time, I was comfortable enough that I quit that job the day after the news came from Redmond.

By the end of May, the research about moving had begun. I also started talking to agency recruiters in Orlando, which I ordinarily don't care for, but despite the uncertainty of contract work, the money is worth it if you do it in short bursts. At the start of June, one of the recruiters put me in touch with a guy at SeaWorld corporate about a 6 to 12-month gig as one of their two software architects (the other was full-time). Two weeks later I flew down there, and three weeks after that, I started that job and moved down with the cats for a long week in a hotel with them. I feel like I accomplished a lot while I was there, and made huge steps toward maturing their systems despite literally decades of crusty stuff. Mind you, not much of it lasted because (duh) that's what happens when you defer that work to contractors and you don't retain them.

So my introduction to Orange County came very, very fast, and it's extraordinary how so much can change in the scope of three weeks. In that time period we sold the house, found a rental, moved a thousand miles, I started a new job, and we became passholders at WDW. Things can change quickly when you want them to and you focus in on it. Granted, the contract job, terrible as it was, helped enable it all because of the silly pay. Getting the SeaWorld gig just made it a slam dunk and easy.

And that advice I got a week or two before going to Seattle had a lot to do with it, too.


No comments yet.

Post your comment: