I think I've finally figured out why I'm somewhat disappointed with my experience at Immedient (and many of my previous jobs as well).
One of the main culprits has to be the lack of intellectual peers. By this I mean people who not only have similar intellectual interests, but people that get excited by the same technology related news that I get excited about.
In the last few days, I've been absolutely bouncing off the walls with excitement about the new technologies that are forthcoming from Microsoft. To be honest, only 1-2 people that I deal with on a daily basis even seem to care. I'm excited the same way a kid is when he gets a new toy; I just want to dive in, play with it, explore it, and find out what it does. I want to push all the buttons, spin all the wheels, and I start playing imagination games in my head (trying to figure out use cases for the new technologies and where I could have applied them in previous projects and how they can be used to improve future development).
It's difficult to contain myself and it's just somewhat disheartening to me that no one in my day-to-day interactions seems to have the same level of enthusiasm that I do (my 50+ year old coworker, Igor, comes the closest, but he doesn't count because he's a technology skeptic and a database guy).
Kent Brown, a former employee here at Immedient, was probably the closest I've ever had to someone that was just really inquisitive about new technologies and open to exploration. Unfortunately for me, he resigned a few months ago and I think for me, the atmoshpere here has really changed because of that; I no longer feel that there are any really high level .Net developers here. There are plenty of system architects and product experts (SharePoint, SQL Server, Reporting Services, etc.), but I don't feel that there are any UI and/or .Net experts here that I can relate to.
I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do (as Igor would say, trying to figure out what my goals are), but I'm very, very far from that point yet. My gut feeling is that I'd be happiest working in software development (as opposed to consulting), but at the same time, I haven't really been able to find those opportunities around here and, for some reason, I just don't think I'm to snuff to make it with a company like Microsoft. In addition, I'm somewhat egotistical at times and I think that harms me in terms of being able to communicate with other developers (which is absolutely crucial in an environment where one man can't possibly be responsible for all of the development, which I typically am). I feel like I can probably only work with developers which I feel are unquestionably more capable than I am.
I'm working on that last part, though. But I'm still quite lost. I'd like to do a computer science master or maybe even a Phd, but I'm just not sure I'd like the abstract nature of that type of work (I like to build things and make tools, you see) and I simply don't have the funds to do that at the moment.
As I've moved around with several companies in the last 24 months, I've been asked, more and more, why I'm unable/unwilling to stay at one position for any length of time. At the root, a job is just like an inter-personal relationship. Until you figure out what you really want from a relationship, you'll never be happy in the relationship. Similarly, until you can figure out what you want to get out of your professional life, you can't really decide what direction you should take. I think one important facet of that is not to have conflicting goals (I'm working on this one, too). I want to make a lot of money up front, but I also want to do "useless" work with cool technologies which may make money at some point. Whereas I've been lucky on the inter-personal relationship side of it (I've known my wife for 7+ years now), I'm just having really crummy luck with my professional life. My thinking is rarely aligned with those of the business people which I work for. I'd rather fiddle around with a cool piece of technology than work on the boring stuff that I'm resigned to do on a day-to-day basis. Blah! To be honest, that was one of the key reasons I decided to join Immedient, but I feel like that that scenario is further from the truth with each day. I've done one project in the last 9 months where I really had fun.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm a very realistic person and I can accept that there will always be a balance between crap and the fun stuff, no matter where one is employed. But I guess what I'm looking for is a place where there's more fun stuff to work on and less routine.
Conclusion? I'm lost like a little puppy in a big city 🙁 hoping that someone takes me to a happy home. I know, it's not a good position to be in; I feel like I should be in command of the chariot, but instead, I'm just letting the reins go and hoping that I win the race. It's a terrible feeling to have, but one that I'm working on resolving (or at least I keep telling myself that). I'm really quite envious of my friends, family, and co-workers who've really got their lives and goals figured out; just wish some of it would rub off on me 🙂