This past week, I had a chance to interview several former students of mine who have gone from the classroom to the trenches, building meaningful careers in IT over the past decade. Prior to the recent recession, they were working normal hours, spending more time with their family, and taking home worthwhile salaries. Today, they still have their jobs, but their hours have doubled, their salaries have been cut in half, and their families have trouble remembering their names.
One of these IT pros, Wayne, has decided to make a life adjustment. He currently works for one of the largest private banking organizations in New York, serving as part of a team that supports 30,000 servers. Just before my visit, Wayne was on call on Saturday, working from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning. He says that is the new normal. When I asked if he gets paid overtime, he explained that he is salaried with no perks for extra work, not even a pat on the back. He's done and put his two-week notice in already.
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You might think Wayne is foolish, considering the current economy, but he didn't just jump ship without having somewhere to go. He took his time, spruced up his résumé, and started looking quietly. He found an opportunity that is closer to home, involves only 200 servers, and puts him completely in charge. The only downside? A drop in pay.
"It's worth it," Wayne says. "My family needs to come first. I have a wife and children that never see me. I'm stressed out all the time, missing sleep and damaging my own health. And for what? For a company that doesn't care about me and will let me go in a heartbeat. I feel the economy has stabilized enough in our industry and I have a strong enough résumé that I can jump ship and survive with a new company or several new companies if need be." I'm nervous for him but also pleased to see he has his priorities.