Before the recent recession, I worked at a startup as a software engineer and developer. As the recession hit, we saw companies fall left and right. Our CEO assured us that our company was solid. But soon after one of these assurances, the ax fell and more than half of our company was let go.
It felt pretty bad to be one of those chopped, especially because, despite some frustrations about the company, I enjoyed what I was doing.
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The CEO even said that I was doing good work when he called me into his office to give me the news. "You're doing an amazing job, just absolutely hitting it out of the park," he began. Then he laid me off.
For the next six months, I hit the job search hard, but didn't find employment. Then one day the CEO of the startup called me.
My role at the company had been to define a product, specify the functionality, implement it, and support the application in production.
One of the apps that I had been working on had been a few weeks away from completion when the ax fell. Since there was no one left to pick it up, the project languished. The CEO wanted to see if I was interested in freelance work to complete the app.
My first thought was, "Yes!" And my next thought was, "No!"
You see, one of the company's really big problems was getting new stuff through QA and into the field. It wasn't the fault of the QA engineers at all -- the problem was due to a process bottleneck. Only a select few employees had access to the production servers. Upper management, who created the workflow policies, stated that the reason was security, but there was an obvious element of paranoid control as well. There was a pervasive attitude of distrust, ugly turf wars, and embarrassingly childish egos within the small organization.