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shawnre

Career Advice after a bad job....

21 posts in this topic

Hello all,

 

First I guess I should preface that this may be a long post....I am not sure...

 

On March 20, 2013 I lost my job. I was fired, the reason, "insubordination" according to my employer.

 

I had worked at the company for almost four years. When I first started, there was one IT person responsible for day to day operations. A new "CIO/ITO/Network Admin/ISO...." slash whatever title you could insert for someone heading up an IT office was also hired a couple of weeks before me. The reason why is that the current IT person was retiring after 40+ years.

 

I was fresh out of college with an AAS in IT with programming as my major concentration. I took the first job I could find that would at least get my foot in the door. My first few days, I was straight up bored. The employer gave me an office next door to the newly hired boss, but I sat there by myself with pretty much no interaction by anyone. I then proceeded to pull up a chair with who would eventually become my "boss/supervisor" once the current retired. I spent about a week doing this, just watching him answer the phone and working on IT issues.

 

I then decided it was time to go see the outgoing IT supervisor and see if I could finally figure out what it was I was supposed to be doing for said company. He explained a lot of things to me in the two weeks before he finally retired. One thing he did warn me of though was my new boss. Apparently (which I did not know at the time), my new boss had worked for the company before. He had connections and history with a few of the senior management people.

 

Over the few years I was with this company, I learned how little my new boss knew. Questions of "How do I tell if someone is locked out?" (in an AD environment were asked of me. "How do I show hidden files?" once we upgraded to Windows 7 after two years....

 

Over those few years, I submitted many new ideas about how to improve our job within the IT department. As an example, my boss thought the only way we could update Adobe Reader and Java when new releases were released was to visit each machine and manually update......REALLY?????? Buying new machines meant we installed everything manually instead of using imaging technology (something I demonstrated in a feasibility study to save the company money, but my boss didn't understand it, so it was never implemented).

 

Eventually a third person was hired, and yes, the company had grown by about 50 employees, but my "opinion" was we didn't need another employee. Why, you may ask? Easy, if my boss would pull his weight, we didn't need an additional employee. Needless to say, at this point, I had figured out my boss, he was lazy. By this point I had already been to his boss on a number of occasions (which unfortunately was the CEO....).

 

In the meantime....ok, so story takes a twist here, bear with me. A new person was hired. Yes, it was a female. Yes, I almost instantly was attracted to her. Long story short, she was in an abusive relationship, I supported her throughout her whole ordeal. She eventually went back to her abusive relation. At one point I had shown her, and this is why I was fired, that I read my boss's chat log. Well, after the fact she wanted to go back to her abusive relation, we were both fired on the same day. I had read by boss's chat log over a year and a half ago at this point. I know where it came from, and I understand that it was hard for her to be around me at the same place of employment, it was for me too. Not the point.

 

Point is, that is how I came to be fired. Now, I am still unemployed, and deciding, or attempting to, whether or not I have a future or not in IT....of course, over the few years I was there, I wrote quite a few programs, and decided that programming is what I like more than doing mundane IT work.....

 

There is of course more to that story, just figured it was getting too long already.....what would you do dear reader of the forum, I could seriously use some advice. If you question my morals or ethics, that is fine, but I guarantee you that just about everyone at my former employer would say I am quite ethical and morally sound. Yes, I did read my boss's chats, for a reason.

 

Any help/advice?

 

Thanks!

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Thank you for your response Promit.

 

First, I agree dust myself off...and easy to say don't worry, but I do. Have I screwed myself in my chosen profession by being fired in this way?? I agree that I just need a job at this point, but I feel that I am....not sure how to say this, maybe that I am disappointing myself knowing that I went to college for this profession, but maybe screwed myself as a result of what has happened at my former employer (btw I have previous IT experience from the US Army....Ft. George G. Meade....unfortunately with todays headlines translates to NSA/Snowden)....but, you are correct, admit that, get a job.

 

Relevant skills.....that's pretty hard now. I keep abreast of technologies, as I admitted in my post I have done some programming (which maybe I did not make clear, I love doing it, love creating something from nothing that a user can use to complete their job), but the whole "insubordination" thing is killing me. How do I say to a future employer that I really did not do anything wrong.....I suppose you could say I did, I should not have read his logs...why did I you might ask....Easy, I wanted to know what was going on....communication in our department was the biggest issue. I had access, so I did. Amazing how he laughed about all the policies he annotated to employees but apparently he was exempt to...I guess that is the benefit of being a supervisor, but hypocrisy in my opinion is wrong....

 

I do thank you for responding though, I just question if getting just any job screws me in the long run, I am contemplating that at this point, money is running dry.....

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Thanks for the responses so far, and Tom, I agree that I made a mistake, but I did so for a right reason....yet I was let go for that....I suppose that is what I am hung up on, how do I explain that.....

 

I suppose (not convinced myself, maybe part of the problem), with what prinz said, reading the chat log was a bad idea....of course, we feel a need to defend at this point....

 

I did so for a reason. What reason you may ask...well, easy, my new supervisor put forth policies that they mocked themselves, thought it was funny that they could say whatever with no repercussions.....they were (not they really, just one person, just not trying to implicate anyone), were "sequestered" for two weeks to write new policies......they copied and pasted a policy from a 3rd-party, to which I pointed that out, maybe another wrong doing on my part????

 

My point at that point, you copied and pasted something you were paid to do for two weeks.....yet a simple compare in word showed what he did, anywhere <<insert name here>> was, they inserted our company name.....I called that out at one point....I called plagiarism, but I did so in our department, not bank wide....he cried foul....it was down hill from there...I don't think I did wrong calling that out, but as things continued to mount, somehow it was my fault......granted, I do admit to reading his chat logs, but, hopefully as you can see, it was for good reason....or am I just fooling myself....IDK.....it seems to me crazy how a title and position in a company somehow exempts you, yet I (as a dedicated employee) suffer

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Well, now that I read back my own post, I suppose I am experiencing hostility myself, but I think I am justified, of course, there are always two sides to every story.....

 

I suppose I am just letting my frustration out, I suppose the advice I have had so far has a good foundation, let it go, better myself and continue life.....easier said than done though at this point. I thank you gamedev community for responding so far. Perhaps I am being harder on myself than I should be, but who is better to do that.....

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Whatever personal justifications you may have, they don't translate to the professional realm. The correct way to handle the situation as you've described would have been to take your concern to the level above your boss, describe where the evidence was (presuming that you knew it to exist at the time), and then engage in evidence gathering if directed. Instead you breached trust, and probably policy, to access information that didn't belong to you, and then shared it with someone at your own level who you were having a relationship with, which itself was probably against policy and certainly against better judgment.

 

I don't really care to chastise you over it, its really no skin off my back, I'm just trying to point out that you either need to stop trying to justify your actions, or at the very least divorce them from any interpretation you're likely to find in the professional realm -- Given the details you've shared, and lets not pretend you're withholding any fundamentally-transformative details here, you aren't going to come off to potential employers as someone who was just trying to do the right thing; what they're going to see is risk and liability. Therefore, you need to show that you understand where and how you failed to live up to professional standards, and that you have the capability and resolve to do better in the future.

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I agree with everyone's comments.

 

I think the first thing to do is disconnect the emotional element and look back at what actually happened (not how you felt about it) and what you could have done differently.

 

I think you are also overlooking that looking at it from the outside, it looks like you did something unethical, which led you to discover that your boss did something unethical, but that what you did looks a lot worse. To me anyway, peeking at your boss's private stuff for over a year and then showing it to a co-worker you had a thing for is much worse than being lazy and risking a marginal chance of a lawsuit (if it was an internal document, much higher risk if it was published somewhere public). From your writing at least, it sounds like you made the decision to read them long before you found anything suspicious, too.

 

Unauthorized reading of the private communications of your boss is something you should have never considered. You should have resigned long before you went there, honestly. Quitting is an entirely reasonable solution in the business world, especially if you don't have the power to fix the problems, and cannot convince those that do to do anything. The other path would have been to stop caring about anything but not getting fired, while looking for another job.
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By the way, just to be clear, my own being critical here isn't meant to be a judgement of you, just a judgement of your actions. Your actions were inappropriate, but I can sympathize with your being caught in a bad professional situation, and wanting desperately to make it better. I can sympathize that you wanted to help this lady, and that this brought emotion and drama into the workplace, and ultimately brought to light what would be your undoing. I don't get the impression that you set out to be a sneaky, kniveing, underhanded guy.

 

I would take head of Tom's warning of "white knight syndrome" -- To a degree, I've been that guy before, and while it may seem the "one true path", that path tends to be self-justifying in the mind of the knight, even when his path is clearly twisted to outside observers. Because of that self-justifying tendency, knights can be manipulated by outside actors, as they are compelled to fight every dragon--real, imagined, or made-up.

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First I guess I should preface that this may be a long post....I am not sure...

 

The magic of a post allows you to write certain lines at the start of the post, despite being written last. By the time you hit send, you should be sure...

 

But overall, I'd focus my next interview around ground-level knowledge. You've discussed imaging. Most firms use that, but its a striking example where you can show your value as an IT and demonstrate your former boss' lack of foresight. Bear in mind that the interview is about making you look like an interesting candidate to your future employer, not prove a point regarding your former employer.

 

Avoid this one bad reflex: don't try to explain/prove that you were unjustly let go. To your future employer, this may or may not be relevant, but let them direct the discussion and answer accordingly. A lot of candidates I've interviewed have had trouble with their past employers, and letting them talk about it unnecessarily revealed reasons for me not to hire them. If you stick to the facts and to the questions you're asked, and don't have an urge to add to it unnecessary tidbits of info (as is present in your original post), then I'd say you actually get a decent chance of landing another job.

Truth be told, you've worked 4 years, did stuff during these 4 years, and have learned a lot. To many employers, the actual situation that led to you being fired will appear minor. Why? You've been there 4 years! People that really can't be worked with generally get fired within months. The one thing I'd really be worried about someone being fired after 4 years would be possibly theft or stuff like that. Sure, reading the logs wasn't wise (and no, this is NEVER justified), but it could be worse.

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Adding my take:

You were there four years. It may not be ideal experience and it may have ended badly in the end, but it shows you can hold a job in the field. Overall that is a good thing.

Be prepared to answer questions on why you left your last job. Keep your answers very short and truthful. Very short, as in five words or less. Be prepared with two-sentence answers in case they press you. Keep those answers short but honest.

For someone in IT it can be appropriate to go through logs, but never on your own initiative. When the executives or HR come to you with a documented request to give them ammunition to fire someone, in that case go through the logs and keep it limited to the request. If they want logs of chat sessions give them over, but don't go through email or other sources unless directed. Also, IT has a lot of information at their disposal, learn to keep your mouth shut.

There are other life lessons in your posts, but you keep trying to justify them. Many of your actions you posted cannot be justified in a professional environment. Take it as an opportunity to increase your maturity. Admit to yourself that you could have done better, learn from it, and move on.

I do not think you have significantly harmed your chances of getting your next job. You were there four years, and that is something of note in the field. Some places have turnovers of two years or less. Other places routinely go with one-year contracts. As long as you learn your lessons, that is a pretty good run for a first job in IT.
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I have been in your shoes before. When you go for your next interview, let them know straight out what happen, and also make your point clear that you are a very good

candidate and how you can help their company. Do not mop over it or say anything bad about the last employer. You actually have a leg up, because you were at the company for 4 years. That says a lot.

Edited by BornToCode
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When you go for your next interview, let them know straight out what happen,

 

The sooner the better. You don't want the interview to "go your way" and let them discover the ugly truth, leaving them with a sour aftertaste.

Display your colors clearly, and buildup from there. It's an uphill battle, yes, but the inclination isn't that steep. Your 4 years do play for a lot here too.

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I had a colleague who used to "spy" for the boss

The boss never asked him to do this, but he found it interesting to listen ...

 

I worked closely with the spy and he would report my conversations to the boss

Over time a clear picture emerged:

- me: could keep a secret, wouldn't hurt anybody

- him: deliberately shared secrets in order to hurt others

 

Anyway it was fun feeding him "secrets" to repeat to the boss ...

 

after a couple of years passed I was promoted to a highly paid manager position

and he was still sweeping the floor, earning 1/5 of my salary

 

if you spy and tell stories about Person A to Person B

Person B will expect you to do the same to them ...

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Hey, keep in touch with her. Since both of you are fired, maybe both of you can be good friends after all.
 

About Job, they come and go. 6 months to 1  year later it will not matter. And you can always find work and also do game projects. Might as well join a offbeat game Dev group. Say no to drugs. Peace. For change, personal tutoring for professional IT classes is a great option.

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Hey, keep in touch with her. Since both of you are fired, maybe both of you can be good friends after all.
I strongly suggest against that.
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Remember that this board is here to help professionally, not at becoming a "better person".

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