I began 2013 making a huge transition in my life. I left an employer for whom I’d worked for nearly 17 years and joined a VAR, LPS Integration, as a Citrix Engineer. I knew it would be a big change, moving from the customer side of things to the reseller side, but I don’t think I could have anticipated just how different the VAR environment would be until I jumped in. In fact, if you’re considering a job at a VAR, I’d suggest you stop reading this post and go read a post written by a buddy of mine named Matthew Norwood entitled “This Job Isn’t for Everyone.” Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
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Back? Great, I’ll continue.
I’ve spent the last seven months working with some of the best, smartest engineers I’ve ever met. To be truthful, I wondered more than once during my first month on the team if I had the chops to be a part of it. Working with them has made me better and pushed me to learn more. I know I’ve been exposed to more and done more varied and complicated things in seven months on the numerous client systems I’ve worked with and consulted on than I could have done in years of working on just my own systems – no matter how large their scale.
I’ve learned about more than just being an engineer at a VAR. I’ve worked closely with a veteran Account Manager and his Pre-Sales Engineer (we call them Technical Consultants) and have enjoyed learning about the sales cycle, from beginning to end. This side of the business was so new to me, I literally felt like I was going to school again for the first several weeks of pre-sales calls and visits.
I’ve learned, for the first time in my life, what it’s like working for a truly small business (number of employees-wise, if not revenue-wise) and that has been both exhilarating, especially given my background at a state university and the Army, and sometimes confusing. My coworkers laughed at me quite a bit over the first few weeks as I tried to adapt to there not being a mountain of process, forms, and approvals for things like purchases and taking time off.
So working for a VAR has been an amazing experience for me, but it’s one that is coming to and end, at least for now, this week.
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Why? Well, if you read Matthew’s post I linked to above, you might think I experienced some or all of those negative aspects he refers to, and maybe they counterbalanced the positive aspects, leaving me, on the whole, unhappy with the experience. But you’d be wrong. I linked to Matthew’s post because I experienced some of all of those things, both negative (1) and positive (2), and I think it’s a great perspective piece on being an engineer at a VAR. I also think they’re universally true, no matter the VAR.
But no, my decision to change directions right now is pretty simple – I found that being away from my little boy for several days at a time, even if it wasn’t an every week kind of thing, was just too hard on me. Heck, I got to go to Citrix Synergy this year and deliver a technical breakout session and hang out with a couple of rockstar members of my team, in the city and state of my birth. While there, I got a free night at Disneyland, for Pete’s sake. What should have been a week of pure fun and excitement turned out to be a strange mix of fun and misery, as I just plain missed the crap out of my wife and son. I then traveled 3/4 weeks in June, including Father’s Day weekend, and every week when I flew back home (don’t get me started on how miserable flying frequently as a non-veteran traveler can be), I saw real changes in my son – new words, new mannerisms, new things I hadn’t been there to see for the first time.
My son is just about to turn 17 months, so I’m still new at this parent thing. I have lots of friends who travel for work and I figured if they could do it, so could I. What I discovered is that, for right now anyway, I would rather have a job that minimizes the amount of work-related travel, especially for several days or weeks at a time, I might have to do.
So I’ve accepted a position that will allow me to do that and work on exciting new problems. More on that later.
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For now, to my fellow engineers on Team Citrix at LPS – Patrick, Brian, Daniel, Joel, Kevin, Rick, and Wael – thanks for the amazing experience working with you has been. I will miss it.
To my coworkers based out of East Tennessee – Tim, Chris, Drew, Jose, and Jennifer – thanks for making me feel welcome and for putting up with me as I acclimated to life working at a small company.
To the entire LPS family – I wish you all the very best.
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(1) The negative item on Matthew’s list I struggled with the most was #7 (Sometimes you don’t know the answer). I hate not knowing the answer and it was a real struggle for me getting to the point of not equating not knowing the answer to failure. I was a much calmer, happier engineer once I figured that out – or rather once I started listening to everybody from my coworkers to my boss about it.
(2) The positive item on Matthew’s list I valued the most was a combination of #1 (You get to see some cool stuff) and #2 (Experience). I was able to work with a major financial services company, a huge operator of acute care hospitals, multiple government agencies, and several higher education institutions, just to mention a few.