Sunday, January 08, 2006

Plan A

Well, I haven’t posted much about the job situation because…it’s still pretty up in the air. The only thing we’ve dropped is working as an independent, because our city wants to get too far into our peanut butter on that. Permits, inspections, blah blah blah – even if you just want to do computer programming from your house. Sure, I could try the whole “I’ll just do it and hope I don’t get busted” thing, but the penalties can be pretty darned stiff.

Also, I have pretty high fixed costs out the gate, here. I can’t afford to have “bad” months, given the cost of childcare and so forth.

I’ve got an interview coming up for a regular salaried job. It’s Plan A right now, but could get derailed faster and harder than a skateboarder hitting a crack in the pavement if we have a major schism between when I need to earn and what they want to pay. It’s very appealing for two reasons: a reliable paycheck and (more importantly, frankly) we’re talking about doing an awful lot of telecommuting. Why yes, that would work for me, thanks for asking…

But the pay thing can be tricky. It’s easy to have a tremendous misunderstanding on that front. That’s the one thing about the IT field I’ve found the most frustrating over the years: the difference between a Level I and a Level III may seem obvious on paper, yet gets fuzzy both in practice and in the minds of the employer. So after the employer has gotten through describing how he wants me to be able to do Everything! All of it! Invent the Internet! Build the enterprise system from scratch using nothing more than a hair pin and a circa 1994 desktop nobody else is using! Create our marketing plans! Guide our research projects! And, get us the best price on office coffee!!, he’ll then turn right around and say, enthusiastically, “Yes, this is a great ground floor opportunity paying $55,000 a year! WOW!”

It isn’t that $55,000 is a rotten entry level salary. It’s a nice entry level salary. It’s just that what he’s asking me to do is more along the Level III category, which has a median of about $90,000.

(In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about with all this ‘level’ stuff, I’m using the definitions [and salaries] from for a Database Developer in zipcode 94102 – this is a cool resource, BTW, if you’re working. A great way to get a realistic take on what you’re worth in the open market, and awesome for ammo come raise time!)

Having had this kind of salary confrontation happen quite frequently, I’m nervous about it. Not in a ‘sitting up all night chewing my fingernails’ way, but more in a ‘man, I hope I don’t have to actually go out and interview again somewhere else’ way. I know the work is out there for me, at full pay. Mostly because companies hire Level I data geeks to do Level III work, and then desperately need someone to come in and fix the horrific mess they’ve left – FAST – because quarter close or something is coming up.

It’s just that I want to be working sooner, and I like everybody I’ve met at this company pretty darned well. I think it would work out beautifully overall.

Also, I hate interviewing. I hate having headhunters calling me day and night. “HEY! We’ve got a fabulous-fabulous-fabulous opportunity for you, dah-link! It is paying a fabulous $13.72 an hour doing data entry in fabulous Armpit, California!!”

Um. Did you read my resume at all? Even once? Did you glance at it? Armpit is about 85 miles from my house and EXCUSE ME, data entry?!

Dear God. I haven’t done data entry in so long that it has dropped off my resume altogether! But their keyword was ‘Excel’, and they just skipped over the fact that my ‘Excel’ is connected with ‘VB programming in’ and ‘reports presented via’.


Ah well. I love the work. I can hate the work-getting process, it’s only a small part of things. I love the work, and can’t wait to get back to it.


Very Herodotus said...

Does a database developer write code? Are there DB administration duties as well?


Anonymous said...

Does this mean you'll start planning for that new washer again?


Mother of Chaos said...

The lines get kind of fuzzy, sometimes. A database developer does mostly coding of new things; new databases, new views, new queries and reports, that kind of stuff. The administrator keeps what is already there running, grants permissions to users, “tunes” the database (just like your car, a database often needs its moving parts tweaked for optimum performance) and so forth. Sometimes an administrator will also be called upon to develop new things, and sometimes a developer is asked to tune something.

Average day, I’d say I usually spend 20% of my time in meetings discussing what is needed, 20% staring at the ceiling pondering exactly what to code, 40% coding and 20% going back into meetings to present the results of my coding – which is bleeding over into being a data analyst, because most of the time I’m showing them why their results aren’t what they think they are.

And, I am all over plotting for my new washer!! I have so many plans for the money I haven’t made yet!!!

Very Herodotus said...

Thanks for the info! The reason I ask is that I'm currently working on a project where I have to use Hibernate to interact with Oracle, and, well... I'm digging it. A lot. It's all in Java. My husband is a DBA, and he's sick of "babysitting a COTS product". He wants something more interesting and I thought maybe a database developer or analyst would suit him better.

Mother of Chaos said...

Oh yeah. If the DH is sick of the babysitting routine, he might well LOVE to develop. Especially since you tend to move on to something completely different fairly you don't get stuck in that lather-rinse-repeat cycle of "grant a permission, remove a permission, manually run the thing that somehow didn't run itself".

MAN, does that get OLD!!

Analyst work is fun, too; less hard-core coding, more digging around in the business. You've got to be a special kind of weird to get really-really into it, but if you like to research and understand how things work, it's a cool job.

Anonymous said...

What license? I never, ever, ever took a license to do 1099 work - never. It never even occurred to me. I have a business license now but that's because I have a partner with a place of business. I never go there but it does exist.

How would your city catch you operating without a license? Do you have city taxes out there? There isn't a thing on your federal or state taxes to connect you to a business license.

I can see why you would want a salary but I'm just saying - if you get a contract, take it. But you've done that before. Just don't make it any more complicated than that and you will be fine.

A good place for modern day go to work advice is He knows what of he speaks.

Good luck!

Mother of Chaos said...

The license thing was interesting. I've never had one for the freelance stuff I've done here at home, either. I had one when I owned my own business, but that was a business-business.

It had to do with the base of operations. If I'm doing the 1099 work at the client site, it was still considered a sole prop by the IRS, but untouched by local regulations. But when I start using my home office (or a rented office space in town), suddenly it becomes a whole 'nother issue.

If working from home, I need a business license and a permit. The permit is either stating that I am NOT impacting the environment, or that I AM impacting it but paying penalties (whatever, guys).

Then they inspect my house, because I am not permitted to use more than 20% of the total floor space for the business. So they inspect my house, garage, shed, and VEHICLES to make sure I'm not stuffing them full of databases. The inspections happen every so often on a schedule, plus one or two SURPRISE! ones - you know, in case I have gone over to the Dark Side.


And yes. They wanted (IIRC) $8.50 for every $1,000 in gross receipts for the city, plus some stupid little piddly thing from the county as well.


As far as getting caught...well. I kind of doubt many people would get caught. I only talked to one person who had been caught, and he said it was because he advertised in the local paper. A city troll caught wind of him and suddenly the nastrygrams began to fly.

So - don't advertise your business, and you'll do fine!