I've worked various IT jobs over the years, but some of the most oddball adventures happened when I worked as a contract project manager.
No more "projects"
In 2001, I worked as a contract project manager for a large international company. I had been a consultant for several years and had general management expertise, so was able to take on a variety of projects. It was a great position.
[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? InfoWorld is looking for an amazing or amusing IT adventure, lesson learned, or war story from the trenches. Send your story to email@example.com. If we publish it, we'll keep you anonymous and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque. ]
The company provided project managers for a number of clients, but our biggest client was a nearby clothing manufacturer.
After about six months, my boss asked if I would like to work for them as a full-time employee. The salary wouldn't be quite as good as my hourly rate, but it had benefits. I was ready for something more permanent and decided to accept. At his request, I wrote a letter of consideration and waited for the official word.
In the meantime, I heard rumors that our biggest client had bought into new business theories and was unhappy with everything being run as "projects." They thought project management was just too stringent, rigid, and confining, and they wanted to try some new approaches.
About a week later, I received the summons to go into the boss' office. I'm pretty good at reading body language and basically headed the discussion off at the pass. I asked him if this was about terminating my contract. He said it was. Our biggest client had pulled the plug on being project managed, and he had to let at least two of us go. I was one of the last two contractors hired, so guess what?
Thus, instead of being shown a full-time position, I was instead shown the door.
Hey, that's life as a contractor.
An expensive Y2K test
In 1999, I worked as a contract project manager on the Y2K project for a state's department of transportation. Due to my hardware electronics engineering and technical background, I was given all of the non-IT hardware analysis projects.
In Y2K terms, non-IT meant hardware that ran on older PCs and was driven primarily by built-in Read Only Memory programming, as opposed to software programming. In many cases, the PCs were used to send only text information to the non-IT device for display. This meant testing things like programmable road signs, intersection stoplights, road weather systems, and similar items.