Surviving the 2-year Itch
Last month marked the 9th anniversary of my college graduation and entry into the workforce. Throughout my career I have noticed an interesting trend: I don't stay at any company for much longer than 2 years. I started to wonder *why* 2 years was the magic number and what triggered my departure from my previous ventures.
In each of the previous 3 companies I have worked at, the underlying reason for leaving was the same: stagnation. In the case of the first company, an internet marketing and consulting firm where I served as a web developer for many clients, I reached a point where my work became so easy and mindless that every morning I found myself not looking forward to going into work and every afternoon I found myself counting down the minutes until it would be "acceptable" for me to leave without seeming like I was slacking.
2 years in, I found that I needed something more challenging. The second company I worked for was a social networking startup where I was also a web developer (this time focusing on building only one product). I quickly found myself learning and using new technologies as well as working on solving harder problems.
However, after a while it became obvious that the market was not ripe for our product and the company began losing steam...fast. After issuing mandatory pay cuts to all employees and trying to retarget our product it became painfully obvious that it was time to leave. 2 years in, I found that I needed something more promising.
For my third gig, I once again donned the hat of web developer, this time for an up and coming online adaptive learning startup. The work was challenging and the product was beneficial. I found myself much more passionate about my work and started to put in longer hours. The team was already very bare bones to start (5 developers) and within a few months after I joined, fortune had it that 2 of those developers left to start companies of their own, bringing our engineering team down to 3.
Those 3 became 2 and eventually those 2 became 1: me. I was my company's engineering team. All of this occurred in the midst of acquisition talks with a larger education company, placing a large part of the due diligence process on my shoulders.
Before long we were acquired by a company in Boston. Unfortunately a larger company usually means a lot more red tape and politics, and it was. Additionally, the product that I had worked so hard to build and improve over the past 2 years was now being horrendously mismanaged.
2 years in (counting my tenure with the original company), I found that I needed something I could get excited about. Delphix is the fourth company that I have worked for and drastically different than any of the previous ones. There is no shortage of difficult problems to solve and interesting projects to work on.
Though the team is larger than any team I have worked with, there is a closeness among my colleagues reminiscent of that when I worked on 5 person engineering teams. My colleagues genuinely care and want to build and deliver a great product. I work side by side with industry experts - such as Adam Leventhal, co-inventor of DTrace and Matt Ahrens, co-inventor of ZFS, to name a few - who are always more than willing to take time out of their day to answer any questions I may have.
We have a great executive team, led by our CEO, Jed Yueh, who was immensely successful with his first company, Avamar, and is on the way to making Delphix an even bigger success. Our sales team is getting our product into more peoples' hands, which means a lot of direct feedback and iteration. I have seen the product improve drastically not only in terms of quality but it has also grown to address the needs of the market.
All of this has had an interesting impact on me. I have found myself working on consistently challenging problems, with full confidence from my management team. I have found myself sitting in traffic on 101 after work, anxious to get home so I could open my laptop and continue working, not because I had to, but because I couldn't wait to see if the idea I just thought up would solve the problem I was currently working on.
I have found myself wondering, "How can I help to make our team better?". 2 years (and 5 months!) in, my work remains challenging, the future looks promising, and I am more than excited about the things I get to work on. Here's to the next 2 years.