March 3, 2006

It really looks like winter is here now that it is March. We got blasted yesterday and now there is six inches or so of snow everywhere. I resolved to spend the day indoors enjoying the no-snowness of the inside of my house.

I got my interview in Warren, New Jersey scheduled for Wednesday morning. I am going to be in Ithaca all day on Tuesday and then will drive to New Jersey that night and crash at a hotel so that I am fresh for the interview. The interview will probably be over around noon and I will be able to head back home. I should be back around 7:00 or so if everything goes to plan. Thursday is both the Microsoft and the Symantec shows in Rochester so I plan to keep myself very busy that week.

Dominica and I haven’t really made a decision yet about how we feel about the position in New Jersey. It is tough because to some degree it is important for us to have a good feel for our own opinion on a contract before I go through all of the effort of driving down to someplace seven hours away, staying in a hotel, interviewing for hours, taking time off, etc. but it almost doesn’t pay to even really consider the possibility because it is really so unlikely that I will ever get any particular position. And even if I do get it it is unlikely that it will last for very long. Contracts just don’t last like they used to when I was younger. Companies are always looking for places to cut corners and contractors are easy targets. People often hire contractors because they don’t have the necessary expertise for a project that they want to do and often that means that they haven’t thought it through very well and they are not very likely to have the expertise to use the project after the contractors are gone. So it really makes it kind of pointless.

To make contracting even more weird lots of companies hire contractors with the expectation that if they like them that they will hire them full time. This sounds great until you think about the fact that contracting is a profession not just something that people do who can’t get jobs. Professional contractors (the most serious of which are often referred to as IT whores) seldom have any interest in being full time, regular employees. Contracting is different that regular work. It has different challenges and different rewards. The pay is higher but the stability and benefits are almost always non-existant. The demands are more but the environment is ever changing. It is extremely challenging but it is fun. It requires a lot of flexibility. Full time workers have more traditional needs. People looking to be hired full time by a company seldom make good contractors. They don’t understand the dynamics of the situation, they aren’t happy because they didn’t get the job that they wanted and they are often motivated differently. So companies that attempt to hire perm employees through the contract process often get either bad contractors or bad regular workers. Few people are good at both and happy with both. Often the people looking for perm never get to be perm because they are bad at contracting and the company doesn’t see them do what they do best. And contract workers generally don’t accept perm positions leaving the company having invested a lot of time in what they feel must be a good screening process only to find out that contractors are not motivated by the promise of a perm position and that the whole process has been a waste. It is basically a game that is played by big companies because in this market there are lots of “wanna be” perm workers who are out of work and will take whatever they can get. This is bad because they try contract work. Then companies hire thinking that they must be getting these people because, obviously, big corporations are only made out of perm workers.

You can always tell when this situation is going on because they will always say things like “six month to perm” as if “to perm” is some kind of enticement to make me willing to work a job that I normally would have turned down because it was temporary. But the reality is that the project is six months. At the end of six months they need to either make an offer for perm (which I am not interested in) or make an offer to extend the project (which we will see) or just acknowledge the fact that they asked for a six month contract and got it. The first day on that job a real contractor is going to be letting everyone that he or she deals with regularly know that they are available in exactly 182.5 days and often jobs could be lined up months in advance. Contracts are called contracts because they have set details in them. It is very frustrating working as a contractor at a firm that uses contractors because it doesn’t have a solid grasp on its hiring process.

Dad came over at 4:00 and we got our regular Friday fish fry at the Omega. My birthday present from Dominica arrived today and dad brought that along with him. A Nikon Nikkor DX 55-200mm lens for my new camera. How I have the entire range that I had had with my older Nikon analogue camera again with the new digital. Earlier today dad had stopped by to drop off the new processor for the server that SGL runs on as well. My plan is to be working on that project tonight. We will see whether or not I manage to get to it. It would be nice to get it done though. Friday nights are the perfect time for this type of project because you have the entire weekend in case anything goes wrong. I don’t anticipate any problems but there is always ample opportunity for disaster. I am swapping out the entire motherboard/processor combination so there is a lot changing on the server.

The server is going to be down part of the weekend so don’t panic if the site comes and goes while I am working on it. Stayed tuned. I hope to be back to normal by Monday. But these things are always risky so be prepared for anything.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Leave a comment