The money is good, the work is clean, and my boss is not a bad person. G-d help me, though, I have not looked forward to going to work for most of the three years I’ve been there. Maybe the first few weeks, but not since then. Help me find something to like about it.
To keep it simple, let’s describe the job as “Administrator of a large ERP systems installation.”
I attribute a good deal of my dissatisfaction to the on-call schedule. When I interviewed for the job, I was told that it was NOT 24x7 on-call and that weekends and evenings were expected only in case of a bona fide emergency (toasted server, etc.). Two people were hired to do the work with the idea that our skills, schedules and responsibilities would complement each other. This is not, of course, how it worked out. They expected 24x7 coverage without paying for it. My co-worker was a guilt-tripping, fear-mongering workaholic during the day (“You’re taking lunch? Boy, it would be nice to take lunch if I didn’t have to work straight through! I’d hate to lose my job because I took too many breaks!”) AND a slacker at night (“Sorry I didn’t get that call about my server at 02:00, kids hid the phone…”). The boss ignored all requests for a little clarification regarding expectations. The situation is a bit better now (more responsive boss, more stable systems that don’t blow up on a nightly basis). However, I’m now the only person on the team who knows the ERP system, and I still appear to be the only one among us who will respond to a page - from the ERP system or anything else - without a personal request from someone higher in the food chain. The idea of rotating on-call responsibility strikes them as a strange and novel concept.
I attribute much of the rest of my dissatisfaction to the simple fact that I never actually wanted to work in this field. I fell into IT by accident. I enjoy writing code, but I’ve never had much luck convincing someone to hire me to write code. Support-type jobs seem to be what I’m good at. Here’s the problem: I have plenty of empathy for people confronted with a user-hostile product, and I have a deep understanding of the importance of the systems I maintain to the lives of the people who depend upon them. However, I have little patience for hysterical end-users and not much more patience for help-desk staff who think “The user got an error” makes a complete case. I like to build things. I like to make things work. I like learning new things. But that’s not what I do. I do the same maintenance tasks over and over, listen to the same complaints (some legit, some not) over and over, and watch the truly challenging projects get handed to other people. My boss seemed genuinely shocked when I said I was interested in one of those projects.
I’m open to any suggestions for making myself enjoy this job. I have plenty of things I enjoy outside of work, but the on-call aspect of the job makes it hard to really settle into what I’m doing . I’m at the point where I dread going to work and my head hurts by the time my butt hits the chair in the morning. At this point I don’t even want another job in the same field. I’m looking into the feasibility of retraining for another career, but in the meantime this is what I’ve got.
Any ideas? Drugs, therapy, a trip up a tower with a high-powered weapon? If you’ve got suggestions, I’ll take them. Thanks.