Some people seem to have it together. They have things like five year plans and goals, and they reach them. They progress in some mystical way they have predetermined.

My career path seems to follow a current, but it is not one I have any control over. I can make big decisions. I can quit. I can go back to school and jump into a new career. I can quit and move across the country to a job that has one one thing (programming in java) in common with my old job. And still, I have no control over what happens once I’m in a job.

When I quit my last job, there were two driving reasons. The first is that my job was going away, and I needed to look for a new job anyway. The second is that I felt I’d been so underused that my never quite developed new-career skills were atrophying. Before I was completely stuck with no options, making a giant leap 1200 or however many miles, two timezones and whatever other changes came with it, well, it seemed like a pretty good decision.

And as soon as I started the new job, the stagnation was waiting for me. I spent my first four months doing nothing. A programmer, they couldn’t seem to get any programming languages on my computer, and they wouldn’t give me admin access, so I couldn’t do it myself. I had not one single tool to assist me in my job as a programmer, and neither did I have any assignments. I was tagged to read obscure documentation, to go to endless meetings in which I could have nothing to say, to sit in on hardware debates, which I know less about than the average non-IT person.

Finally I was allowed to be borrowed by another project. It was a slow start, but eventually I was coding. I was doing things that were interesting to me, I was learning, I felt marginally productive. Lately it has been getting better and better. I’m learning new technology (well, new to me) I am getting things done, I feel good. It has been four long years to reach a point where I feel good in my job, in this career.

I’m still only on loan to this project. They have me for…no one knows how long, or if they do know they’re not telling me. Possibly as long as through September. Possibly only through the end of this week. I honestly have not the slightest clue.

I don’t want to go back to the “old” project. I really don’t want to go back. From top to bottom, from technology to team to leadership, I don’t want to go back. I went to talk to the lead on the project today. He claimed that he has no control over the situation. My trust…is minimal. He deferred the entire issue to two managers, who would be in essentially a tug of war if I tried to make this an issue. Oh, did I mention I’m a subcontractor? Not the best position to be in to make issues of anything.

I’m going to talk to one of the managers. If nothing else, I’d really appreciate someone giving me some information. If she even knows who I am, I’d be surprised, but surely she has my name on a list somewhere and can give me a bit more information on what to expect. And I’ll feel her out for what I would prefer, for what would make more sense from every perspective I can see.

It is frustrating to know that it almost definitely won’t make a difference. That my preferences, my strengths, what is best for me, as a person, as an individual, it doesn’t matter. The managers have their own agenda, they are focused on numbers, and that’s that. That’s just how it goes. Why should we expect to have any say in our careers, after all?

I’m baffled by the people who seem to have control over their careers. How do they do it?

grand central