September 8, 1999

Itís been an interesting few days.

After a pleasantly relaxing labor day weekend, I headed back to the rather tense atmosphere at work. Boxes litter the halls, voices are hushed, stacks of papers accumulate in the trash bins. Barb has an entire mini-dumpster taking up residence just outside her door. No one knows what is going to happen in the next few weeks, at least, not with any degree of certainty.

Most of us knew that we'd be heading over to the Academic Center, but except for a few, exact locations were not obtainable. I settled in for a day of documenting code. With the slow-down on the project, thatís pretty much all that was left for me to do.

Around noon, Dave and Bruce stuck their heads into my office and told me that Tottle, the interim CIO guy was going to want to talk to me. The project was going to be canceled, with almost 99.9% certainty. Dave then told me about the other possible areas that he saw me moving to and Bruce assured me that he was still trying to find other sources of funding.

Okay, I thought to myself, not a big deal. Absolutely nothing that I hadnít expected.

Later on, Tottle came by and stuck his head around the corner. He asked me if I had a minute. To which I jovially responded, with a "Come on in," thinking that this conversation would pretty much mirror the previous one.

Not so.

He asked me to step into his office instead, along with our office manager and this other guy that I vaguely remembered from a meeting or two. For the next twenty minutes or so, my feathers were alternately ruffled and smoothed by a string of corporate lingo and platitudes the like of which Iíve never come across before.

To make a long story short, effective September 30th, the project will be canceled and my position will be abolished. I am being downsized. Now this does not mean, everyone in the room assured me, that I am being kicked out, there are plenty of other opportunities available and they very much want to keep me at the university in the ISS department.

But it's up to me to go out there and find something. Unlike most of the other folk, for whom specific purposes still exist, I am in essence, cast adrift because I havenít been here long enough to take on any duties beyond those prescribed by the project.

To boil it down even further Ė I just spent eight months working my tail off on an application that will most likely, never be rolled out. At least not in the form that I worked on it, or even, using my code. So the last eight months have been turned into a hands-on apprenticeship of ColdFusion and interface design. Lots of good learning for me, but not much of anything concrete to show for it.

On the upside, I've learned a lot and I feel very confident about my design skills now, where I didnít before. This project let me test the boundaries of my knowledge, find the holes in it and plug some of them, while expanding on my existing skill base.

On the downside, the project is being canceled and I wonít be able to reap the benefits of working on something that was so cutting edge, so needed and just plain cool.

Unless I find another position in the University, my employment will terminate at the end of the month. Needless to say, I had a bad feeling about this, and posted my resume over a week ago. I've gotten calls and people are interested. It's just up to me to make the most of those calls and get out there and find something really good.

I keep telling myself to view this turn of events as an opportunity instead of a tragedy. After all, it opens up all sorts of possibilities that I hadn't really thought of, or had the energy to pursue before. I have more choices now.

That's not a bad position to be in at all.

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