I know the exact moment I decided to leave the job before last. I didn’t know it at the time. It took months to figure it out. But I happened. Reading this article by Rands In Repose made me remember how distinctly that moment stands out as the moment. I was sitting in a 3 hour meeting with the senior management, and I was told that I wasn’t part of the group that was making decisions. Even more so, my group was being explicitly excluded from that process. There was another team that was driving decisions, and we were simply there to implement and support them.
In reflection, the next job I left was for a similar reason. At the time, I was happy with the work, my boss and my coworkers, but when an old colleague asked if I was interested in something bigger… I responded that I was interested. It wasn’t until I was sitting in the interview itself with my new employer that I realized what it was about my current job that I was unhappy with – again, I was not being consulted on architecture and other forward-looking aspects of the stack. The work we were doing was fascinating and full of technology I was delighted to be learning more about. However, there were lots of legacy bits we held onto for Reasons, and the folks in charge of leading the platform had no context on how to production-ize the code they wrote.
These are both jobs I loved. I learned a lot at them, I worked with amazing people, and I did what I felt was important work – not just helping post cat pictures to the internet. In the end, not having a sense of ownership of the stack can be a very discouraging thing to deal with – just as bad in many ways as having abusive coworkers, being underpaid or being bored.