TLDNR: Today is my first day as a Microsoft Technical Evangelist. I am really excited about working with some smart, talented and driven individuals.
The last 17 years of my career have been in consulting. My goal was always to provide value to the client regardless of the chosen technology. Sometimes that was really easy. Other times it was only possible to give them what they contractually agreed to and move on. Along the way, there were a number of experiences that were enjoyable and exciting and felt very rewarding to look back on. In taking this new role as a Technical Evangelist, I believe I have found the intersection of those enjoyable and exciting experiences.
My first exposure to working with Microsoft was as a subcontractor on a project with William Sweeny and Mario Fulan on a huge data warehouse for a company in Las Vegas. While most of the project was completed in Columbus, we ended up spending a fair amount of time on site with the client. I admired that these guys were incredibly talented and knew how to get stuff done and thought that getting to work with guys like this could be very challenging and enjoyable.
It was also during this time that I began spending a fair amount of time teaching Microsoft courses as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. From teaching SQL Server to Visual Basic to C#, the interaction with students and helping them learn something new and seeing them getting excited about a new technology was very rewarding. It was constantly a challenge to take the students’ feedback and create additional material for future classes.
As the training landscape changed, I decided to branch out and become an independent consultant. This allowed me to continue not only the training, but also finding engagements where I wasn’t just a contractor filling a chair to get something done, but helping teams learn and grow. I always looked for smart people to work with and teams that wanted to move beyond the status quo. At one point, I gave up independence to work with some of them.
Last January, I decided that I was going to make a change, but it would be very deliberate and purposeful. I didn’t just want to change consulting companies or go back to being independent. I wanted something more. I evaluated all of the work I have done over the last 20 years and came up with what I loved and what I hated and determined who I knew that had a job doing the things I loved doing. Several people came to mind…and they all worked for Microsoft. So I decided…OK…I need to work for Microsoft.
After deciding that I would pursue working for Microsoft, I began talking with people that worked there. What role did they have? What did they do? What roles would likely fit me? Who else was in that role? I went to lunch. I made calls. I talked with recruiters. I read blogs. I read books. I waited…and waited…and waited. I had a goal…and I had it written down. I was willing to wait for the right move.
Finally, on November 14, the job posting came up during my weekly search. I submitted my application and called my recruiter…no answer…he was no longer working at Microsoft (that’s how long this process was). The waiting continued. There were interviews, and technical interviews and “Finals Day”…and more waiting between all of them. After writing down my goal on January 29 (more than a year ago), I got word that my start day would be today, March 10. This job will be different in so many ways it’s hard to know how I will be able to compare them, but I am excited about the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.
Takeaway…Find what you love to do. Find someone else who is doing that thing. Invest time talking to them…learn all you can about what they do and how they got there. Set a goal and write it down. Ultimately, find a way to do what you love. Patience is a virtue, but sometimes it becomes a necessity.