The contractors dilemma

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 6:37 PM | comments: 0

I don't know if I posted anything here, but my contract at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment was extended through June. Hooray for that! I was really hoping for the gig to be converted to FTE, but that didn't happen (which was no fault of my own, as far as I know). In June, they could find more money and extend again, or not, or convert, but obviously I have to work on the assumption that it's "or not."

I've done quite a few contract jobs over the years, and going from one thing to the next comes with the territory. The upsides are that you constantly see new things, you take time off whenever you feel you can afford it, and on an hourly basis at least, you make a whole lot more. The negatives are that you have to buy your own health insurance (which became a major con this year with the ACA), and you have to be thinking about the next thing. Fortunately, when the economy doesn't suck, there is no shortage of work.

But there's another dilemma that you often face that has nothing to do with schedules or money... it's your personal investment in the job. If you're like me and take some pride in what you do (a sentiment not universally upheld by contractors, for sure), you want to really deliver good work and be proud of it. At the same time, you are something of a temporary commodity. It's a little like going to summer camp and knowing that your cabin softball team is not going to be together in the long run.

What makes this even more difficult for me is that the things I'm working on are literally shaping some of the direction of software architecture for the company for the foreseeable future. I'm engaging in a lot of strategic stuff, and as I've said before, I think I did more in the first five months than in the last two years of work. That's one of the weird things too, that I'm building all of this domain knowledge and experience that I could take to competitors if they wanted to hire me.

It's also a difficult situation because I generally like the people there. The place has its "interesting" personalities like any other place, but I never wake up and think, "I don't wanna go to work because I don't like so and so."

So it kind of sucks that the first job I've really liked in more than two years is one I won't get to keep. It's a bummer. In the mean time, I'll keep working the network and getting to know folks around here. I'm doing at least one speaking gig in the near future, too. I'm a lot more serious about this professional development stuff.


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