Late night career musings


Here’s a photo of me yesterday, taking notes for a job application. In true style I procrastinated until the last minute and consequently am awake here at 4 am having just emailed my application, resume and other attached documents.

I am applying for a position of “Analyst programmer” with the local shire council. Thus the career musings. I think my explanations in the cover letter describe it best:

This is an unusual application for me. Currently, and for the past 7 years, I have worked web and information management roles in the Queensland Government (Brisbane). I have a well established reputation there, within the web sector, and a higher wage than this position offers (approximately $70,000 pa).

You may think it strange I would apply for this position. It is temporary, it is lower pay, and I will need to rebuild my reputation from scratch. All of this is true, and yet there are reasons I wish to pursue this avenue for my career.

Foremost, I live in the shire and working locally would save over 10 hours per week in travel time. Time I could better spend with my growing family—my wife and I have three kids and are expecting our fourth later this year—or on pursuits of personal interest. The distance also limits my participation in simple things like flexing, overtime and even social activities. We believe the family budget can be managed—this option is not without some financial gains (almost $2000 pa in commuting costs)—and I think it worthwhile to build a career here.

Furthermore, my observations of web development in Queensland Government have given me cause to doubt it as a long term career for me. The web is relatively new and the industry lacks people with long experience in web—nobody has spent thirty or forty years (an entire career) mastering the web. Appreciation of the web medium remains low, and positions at all levels routinely suffer from a deficit in skilled applicants. Limited professional development is on offer, and I find increasingly few options for advancement that do not lead to management. All of this fosters a culture that frequently inhibits the pursuit of innovation with web technology.

I wish to be involved in developing products of the calibre that differentiates us (be it shire or state) from our competitors: utilising tools and technologies to produce solutions that make life easier (even small ways make a difference). That is no longer happening in my current job.

I have hopes that this position offers such an opportunity: working in an established discipline where quality practices are well understood and pursued with great diligence. From the structure of the Technology Services Unit (in the PD), it is obvious there is room for career advancement; without sacrificing a love of technical work for purely managerial duties. I am firmly committed to pursuing a professional and technical career. I believe in good management, I just believe that technical people are needed to fill technical roles. It is still relatively early in my career, perhaps my attitudes on this will change over time. For now, I wish my duties to remain technical.

My experience is primarily in web design and development, tempered with an understanding of programming, information management and visual design disciplines. It is what I enjoy and what I can bring to your team. Web technology is rapidly merging with traditional IT tools and services and I believe my strong skills in that area would be asset for this position. Naturally I hope you agree, and look forward to discussing further in an interview.

Now, on the off chance someone from work reads this and is offended (sounds like a good reason to get my blog blocked!) let me just say that everyone I’ve had the fortune to work with has been dedicated to their work, and worked hard. Not to the exclusion of having a life (most of you!) Regardless, this is how I feel about our industry. Do you feel differently? Maybe I just felt it was time for a career limiting post like this 😉

Anyhow, my application is in. Wish me luck! Last time I got offered a job (well, a secondment), my branch rejected it. I could use a little extra luck this time.

And now I need what sleep I can grab. Hope today is not stressful. At least I’ve had breakfast already! 😉


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Ben Boyle

Web developer, Dad, gamer, mentor, animator, universal design advocate, fan of gadgets and sunshine!

4 thoughts on “Late night career musings”

  1. Good luck! You’ll make a very good programmer. And if you have to work with .NET, then at least you’ll be able to fix its standards-broken components ;)PS You will be sorely missed.

  2. It is only the Nice that makes you think everyone you encounter at work is diligent. If that were true, I doubt you’d be looking to get out. I think there’s too little care in our field, and that’s what gets me down.There’s always a career back in govt for you if you can learn to sit in a room, nod, say “Microsoft;Enterprise;Server;Portal” all separately (like meta keywords) and sound like you mean it.Your blog is blocked where I work!Sorry for the mostly cynical comment. For your and your family’s sake, I hope it goes exceedingly well.[ Blogger – let me use ! ]

  3. You’re hired! A very well written letter, and you are not wrong in what you say :)Very best of luck Ben (as much as it pains me to say it), I hope you get the job. I am being selfish 🙂 and we will all miss you heaps if you leave state government…but hey…we might be able to grab a cab voucher and have a coffee meeting eh?

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