March 11, 2010

What's Next?

So what's next for me? I'm happy to say the initial trauma of being laid off is gone, but not without sentiment. Sun Microsystems is the first company that I worked for as a fresh, green college graduate, and I like to think that my experiences there took a very unique path. I started off as a QA Engineer, automating tests for hardware products used directly by paying Sun customers. From there, I transitioned into a tools developer role, developing and supporting an automation framework used by the rest of the QA team(s). My "customers" while in that role were all internal Sun employees. Finally, I moved into Sun Labs on the Project Darkstar team, where technically, as a research project, we didn't have any customers. In practice, though, we provided direct support to users through the open source community. While going through it all, it seemed like a very natural progression for my career; but looking back, I realize that it's a real valuable trifecta of experiences that not many are fortunate enough to claim.

It was very hard for me initially when Project Darkstar was canceled; it was more than just the obvious emotions that come with losing your job though. There's one other experience from my past that I can compare it to. The circumstances were different, but the feelings and the emotions were eerily similar. For four years while at RPI, I was a member of the track and field team. It was more than just an extra-curricular for me, though, it was my primary focus. I was a highly competitive, contributing member of the team, and was one of the team captains in my final season. Each of the four years that I was there, we won the NYSCTC outdoor state track and field championships; I felt like I was part of something great. The 2005 ECAC championships was my final track meet in my collegiate career. Even though I knew going into it that the meet would be my last, I was not prepared for the emotions that I would feel afterwards. For four years I was part of something great, and just like that it was over. I still remember lying in bed that night, surprised at my own tears.

With Project Darkstar, I also felt like I was part of something great. Not only was it a great project, not only were we driving towards a goal that had never been achieved before, but we were also a great team. There were such a unique set of personalities on that team that all meshed together to form a sum greater than its parts. Not only that, but we were nestled inside of Sun Labs, which is probably one of the smartest collection of people you'll ever find. The way that it was all torn away from us, so harshly and abruptly, and when we were so close to our goal, is what made it so difficult. Once again, I had established my place in something that was great, and just like that it was over.

It's time to move on, now, though. If I've learned anything from my past it's that there's always something great waiting in my future. I've accepted a new position as a software engineer at Nokia and am actually very excited to begin work on Monday. I'll be working on some scalable caching and indexing infrastructure for their service platforms, and am looking forward to a new and interesting challenge. I also plan to continue working on Project Darkstar's successor, RedDwarf Server in my own personal free time. I obviously expect my available time to devote to that effort to be considerably more limited than it has been, however.

Things are looking up, and I'm looking forward to my next great thing.

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