Several matches, one starting to catch fire, two smoking, one burnt to cinders, two unlit

4/14/2022: Diary of a Burnout, Part VI

In our last adventure, I got a job at Domino’s, took on more responsibility, started to get burnt out, and took a job to work at a startup with a friend. In this post, I’ll discuss that experience. You can read the previous parts here: I (link), II (link), III (link), IV (link), and V (link).

I joined the new company as a Senior Software Engineer in Test, or something to that effect. Having no previous QA experience aside from a few SoapUI tests, I learned on the job. I also dealt with the isolation that remote work brought. It took about six months for me to really adjust and get into a groove, and remote work grew on me. I did miss, and still do, the social interactions a physical office can afford, but it’s so much more productive working from home. And I really don’t miss commuting either.

Eventually, I went back to writing production code full-time. Vinnie and I worked on the same code for a while through various ups and downs. He became an architect and I took over the component we’d been working on together as well as the one other person we’d hired onto the team. I was now a manager… of one.

Things ran smoothly for a while. Every process has inefficiencies, and ours was no different. But I enjoyed the work most of the time. When I joined, I was employee 23 I think. The company grew though, and so did its ambitions. This growth led to changes in leadership, process, and organization. Nothing was quite the same after that.

Another friend of mine from the first job was my boss. He managed another team in addition to mine. Unexpectedly, the company decided to fire him and a member of one of his teams. I inherited his other team and the one developer still on the team, and I became a manager of two.

The extra responsibility didn’t wear on me very much. There is only so much three people can do. However, over time, the team grew. I became a manager of four and also had to do more project management to keep multiple work streams flowing. I started to burn out.

The management of 4 people and project management didn’t burn me out so much as the constant change. Priorities shifted frequently and requirements were often spurious at best. Time and energy wasted. The same patterns repeated over several years with different people in place. I couldn’t fix it. So I left after 5.5 years this past February. I’m still dealing with all of that baggage.

It’s too soon to tell at my new job how well things will go here. It’s a different environment and different type of business. I’m a consultant now. My first project is with the largest team I’ve worked with, most of whom are younger than me. We’ll see how this goes.

In my next post, which may or may not be the last in this series (at least for a while), I will reflect more on my career holistically now that I’ve gotten through the history and some of the trauma. Perhaps I can draw some useful insights. Until then, good night and good luck.

If you like what you’ve read, please let me know. I would also appreciate you sharing it with your people (or very smart pets). Also, how do you handle burnout? I could use the help. If you want to make sure you don’t miss these, subscribe to my newsletter below. Or subscribe to my social networks. Thanks for reading!

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