Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


The tie that Binds, Part 2

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Whoo! What a day of interviews yesterday! I started off with S., the Director of Network Engineers at Binder. She was interesting. She surprised me by asking if I was all geared up to do my presentation. Gulp! Presentation? Well, it seems that I missed a voice-mail at home about that, so I was totally unprepared. Luckily, she saw that right away and waved it off until another time. If I made it that far… It was a pretty standard interview otherwise. She mainly went over stuff that R. had already told me. But, she did keep hammering away at me to get me to ask questions. I didn’t really have any to ask her, but I tried my feeble best. She also surprised me by asking why I was “taking a step backward” in my career. That one caught me by surprise. Until then, I hadn’t really thought of it as a step backward. Honestly, I had thought of it as a total step sideways, but not backward. Hmm, I’ll have to give that one some thought.
The interview with P., the Regional Director of Sales, went better, I think. He was very relaxed and open. He was not what I think of as a “typical” salesman. He was really low-pressure and personable. Of course, that is one sales technique that is growing in popularity. Anyway, we talked about all the sales aspects of the position and how I might fit into it. He asked some of the standard interview questions, too, but I think he was mainly trying to get a feel for my personality. He also told me about the way they’re reorganizing the sales-networking setup. He explained that S. was new to Binder and that they were still working out the new Sales-to-Network ratios. It should mean less travel for the Network Engineers when it gets all worked out. That was good news!
Finally, I talked to C., who is an Engineer already. He was mainly excited to find someone who was as crazy about Japan, martial-arts and anime as he is! (Check out my Interests on my Resume, for details.) After we got a feel for out mutual obsession levels, we got down to the actual interview. Again, it was pretty standard stuff, but I did get to ask questions of someone who actually does what I would be doing. The good news is that Binder really does supply the training that they promise. Now that is refreshing! Also, he reinforced for me just how great all the benefits were at Binder. Not to mention the fact that part of my salary would be tied to how well the Salesman that I work with do. Obviously not as big a portion as the Salesmen themselves, but still it’s a nice bonus.
I also met someone from Sales on the way down in the elevator. She was nice, too, even if she was a little too “bubbly” for my taste. Still, she was open and friendly like you’d expect someone in Sales to be, but more so. That seemed to be a kind of theme with the people who have worked at Binder for a while. They all seem to get into a kind of relaxed and laid back mode that’s really refreshing. It makes it tempting… Ooops, there I go again, assuming that I’m going to get an offer. Well, we’ll see what happens. I’m still not sure if this is the right move for me. It would be totally different than what I’ve done. And, I’m not sure about the travel, either. Though, they all told me that it would be reduced down to 50%, or less. I’m pretty sure they’re going to make me some kind of offer, but we’ll just have to see I guess.
I left T. at DÜT a message to call me back on Monday. I’d really like to get another interview series going before I get an offer from Binder. I’m hoping that it will be a position that I’m interested in, too. It sounded more like what I have been doing, and I think I might be more comfortable with that. I haven’t really decided about the position at Binder, yet, but I’m starting to have second thoughts because of what S. said. If she sees it as a step backward, how many other people will, too?


Career Update

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Well, it’s been a busy week! I got a call from Binder and I’m going back to see them this afternoon. This will be a grueling three interview application triathlon. First, I meet with R.’s boss, the Director of Network Engineers (not her real title). Then, I meet with a Regional Director of Sales, and after that, I meet with a guy who already does what they’re considering me for, Network Engineer (also, not the real title. Notice a theme here?). We’ll see how it goes. If they’re all as laid back as R. then I’ll have a hard time not liking the position. Of course, I’m getting a little ahead of myself and assuming that they’re going to make me an offer. For all I know, that last personality test tells them that I’m some nut that pours out his thoughts into a web page!
I also got a call from T. at Discovery Über Technology, who had a position at an undisclosed medical company that sounded like it was right up my alley. She said she was going to call back this morning, but I have yet to hear from her. I’ll no doubt leave her a message this evening after I’m done at Binder. The position sounds about like what I’ve been doing, but in a totally different industry. It could be interesting.
I’m also hoping to hear something from the WacoSyndicate, about a position that D. hinted at there. She told me about a company that is hiring not only Network Engineers, but a Network Manager of some kind. It sounded interesting. It’s a little more management than I’ve done before, but it could be that next step I’m looking to take next. I’ll have to give her a call on Monday and see what’s happening there.


The tie that Binds

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I had the Big Interview with Binder yesterday. I thought that I was going to see a Sales Manager of some kind, but ended up seeing a top-level Network Engineer. To tell the truth, I was rather pleased. First of all, I get a little uptight about interviewing with sales-type people. I may have a degree in Marketing, but I *know* people who do sales for a living pay a little more attention to the details of appearance than I do. Shoot, that was one of the many reasons I shied away from sales in the first place! Anyway, R. was a pretty okay guy. I could very easily see myself working for him. He was very personable and I could tell he knew his tech when he ran me through a little bit of a techie quiz. Just the basics, like “what is NDS?” and “What is an NLM?” and “What is a ‘service’ in NT?” Nothing I didn’t know, but stuff that only a real tech would know. He was also a pretty relaxed guy, considering what he hinted at his schedule being like. A *big* contrast to H. at GeoTech Global! The only downside I see to this position, so far, is that I still loose my management stuff and I’d have to travel 75-80% of the time. Yikes! That could be a little too much, but then again, they haven’t offered me a position yet either! They did give me a “personality” test, though. I’m not sure if they were checking to see if I was an axe-murderer, or if I was a salesman, but it was sort of an interesting test. At least part of it was related to how “honest” I am, or think I am. And another seemed to be either testing my memory, or checking to see if I had any animosity towards my parents. I’m not sure what they were looking for, but they repeated the *exact* same questions about my perception of my memory and my feelings toward my parents. Kind of weird. Go figure.
On another note, I notified all my search agency contacts regarding my status. It was interesting to see the reaction I got when I told them I took a pass on the GeoTech Global offer. For instance, I bet that I don’t hear from J. at WIZARD again. I have a feeling they cater to a different end of the market than I’m looking to be anymore. On the other hand, D. at the WacoSyndicate seemed to think I made the right decision. She also indicated that there might still be something in the works over there. She has me in the category that I think I belong in now: management. *sigh* I’m over 30, so I can’t be trusted, but now I’m going to be The Man, too!


Global Meltdown

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Big, bad news, but probably not a surprise to anyone. I decided to turn down the offer at GeoTech Global. It’s not so much that it would have been a bad job, you understand, but that it would have been a step backwards. Yesterday morning, I talked with a former boss of mine up in Dallas, who’s contracting now, named Pam. She really reinforced the idea that it would be a step backwards for me. She told me that she thought I was ready to “take the next step” and really break out. (In other words, I’m ready to manage a small network department.)
I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. Of course, I do have the interview on Monday with Binder. Also, there’s been some talk from at least one headhunter at the Waco Syndicate about a network management position of *some* kind at a local oil/gas company. (For those of you not familiar with Houston, about every other company in Houston is involved in oil or gas or both.) And, of course, there’s always the contract option. Lately, I’ve been giving that a lot more thought. Again, it’s a little more risky than full-time, but not much. And I might learn more new things that way. Who knows? On the other hand, I can make more money doing contract work. Enough, in fact, to offset the benefits that I’d be missing out on. BlueCrossBlueShield of Texas has health insurance rates that rival what I was paying on COBRA to FristCity Financial. Of course, I’d have to remember to pay into my IRA and to pay estimated quarterly taxes. Well, everything has a downside, I guess.

Okay, enough of the business talk. Later today Anne and I are taking Allie to the Montgomery Old West Festival. It should be loads of fun, and not just because we know people working there. We know several guys who do whip tricks that will be representing the Houston Western Arts Association. Later this weekend, I’ll have to go out and buy some more “interview clothes”, including some ties. *sigh* I hate wearing ties.


Career Magic?

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Went to a second interview with J. at WIZARD. He still didn’t have anything, and the person he was going to have me talk to told him that she’d had “no movement” on the position that he was going to present to me. *Sigh* Oh, well, maybe next time.
I did manage to get through a phone interview with N. from Binder. I’m not 100% sure that this job will be what I want, but it’s with a good company (even if you can’t figure out who it is from my code-name, trust me, they’re big in networking). Mainly it’s the massive travel that bothers me. I’d be traveling 75-80% of the time support the sales of their product. On Monday, I have an interview with their big sales guy. I think it’s to check to see if I’m a total nut or not because I’ll be taking a personality test, too. Oh, scary!

Well, when I got home from that other interview, I had a few messages. Including one that was an offer from GeoTech Global! So, I called back and got R., who’s in Human Resources over at GeoTech. She made the offer which was, unfortunately, a little light on the salary. And, it also removes me from management. *Sigh* I really want a job though. I mean the bills are coming and I don’t know how long I’ll be around at the Titanic, as I have come to think of my present company. I’ll have to call my Dad and talk with him about it. Not to mention Anne, my “babe-alicious” girlfriend. Kind of a scary place to be, isn’t it?


Start of a Long Trail

Filed under: Career Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, one of the several places I sent my resume to has called back. We’ll call them GeoTech Global for now, but I’ll reveal their name should I go to work for them. For now, I’ll refer to the manager I interviewed with as H., again with the same caveat.
H. called to ask me about getting the required information to pass a government security check, since one of the positions I’m being considered for is as the backup engineer on a government contract. I have to provide, among other things, a certified copy of my birth certificate. Yikes! Where do I go for that? Luckily, H. has run into this before and recommends www.vitalcheck.com. So off I go to order a copy of my birth certificate. Hmm, better make that two, just in case I need another one later. You never know…

Later that same day…
Just back from an interview with J. at WIZARD, a placement agency. J. didn’t really have anything for me, yet, but he did have me talk to his cohort that dealt more with Network Engineers. She didn’t have anything either, but she did try to convince me that my salary was “at the top range” for my area. I agreed at the time, but I really don’t think it is. Not by a long shot. Of course, that got me a little peeved. Peeved enough, in fact, to start studying on my CCNA. I’d bought a study guide for my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate, in case you didn’t know) and some training software. I’ll install the training software tomorrow and start the book later this week. Watch my dust!


Why a blog?

Filed under: Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, now that I’ve finally set up my news and updates page, namely Diary of a Network Geek, I’m going to start adding to it. My dear, sweet girlfriend, Anne, suggested that I chronicle my quest for a new job. I’ve decided that I like that suggestion, so I’m going to start with a little background.
The company I started working for when I moved to Texas, Harbor Financial Mortgage Corporation, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December of 1999. Currently, I’m a contractor for the liquidation company that is disposing of Harbor’s assets. Without going into too much detail about why they filed Chapter 11, let’s just say it was a bit of a surprise. When I joined the company in June of 1998, we were in a period of explosive growth. We gained over 200 employees in less than 8 months, and continued to add employees slowly for a year. Less than two years after I signed on, we’re all but gone. At last count, there were about a dozen employees left here, including myself.
So, you ask, what have I been doing since December? Well, for starters, I separated the Dallas network from the combined Houston-Waco networks. I was in charge of the Houston-Waco end of things. It all happened just like it’s supposed to in the on-line documentation at Novell. Well, after the router guys at Sprint got the right routers disconnected, that is. *Sigh* Nothing’s perfect, I suppose. On the upside, the Houston separation from Waco went without even that much going wrong. Not every day that a Network Engineer gets to purposely break then fix a network!
After that, mostly what I did was maintain the system as it’s been. I kept the backups running and made sure that the sad, little ISDN connection to the Internet was up and running. Of course, from time to time I had to perform some other regular maintenance, but that didn’t take much time. So, in between times, I studied for my CNE (Certified Netware Engineer, for the uninitiated) update test. Which I passed, BTW. So now I’m a genuine CNE 5. In fact, the last time I called Novell, I was the only Jim Hoffman that was a CNE! Cool!
And, the rest of the time, I spend catching up on all the tech reading that I’ve been missing out on. I setup a Linux machine, too, just to brush up my Unix skills, which are far too out of date for my taste. Oh, yeah, I’ve been talking to people about jobs, too. See, I’ll be totally out of work at the end of June. At least, that’s what they’re saying today. Who knows, though, next week they might tell me to get out. Or they might tell me that they’re extending the contract until the end of July! I just don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.
So, this Diary of a Network Geek will chronicle my trials and tribulations as I go out job hunting. I promise to change the names of the people involved to “protect the innocent”!

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