On the Bubble

July 18, 2002

I work as an independent software consultant. Currently I am sub-contracting through another company to the local state government. As consulting gigs go this is pretty cushy. The contracts are one year in length, with the cost of the two one-year extensions built in from the start. Basically if you can do the work and you don't commit a serious political faux pas you are employed for 3 years.

However the is the slight matter of a budget crises in my home state. Contracts are not getting signed. Signed contracts are being voided. No one is safe, and no one knows what will happen next. The budget for my client agency was slashed. Only 2 of 15 people on my team survived the cut. The rest of us are in limbo, waiting for a decision about an alternate-spending plan. Under that plan my position would be restored. Only about 6 or 7 of the original 15 would still be here.

The outside firm reporting on this whole situation makes its report to the agency head today. Word is expected to filter down by tomorrow, Monday at the latest. To say that those of us in the know are tense would be a gross understatement. I came here almost 2 years ago after losing my job at a pre-IPO company that tanked. I've been laid off before so I know what that feels like. What I am not looking forward to is the aftermath. More than likely we will relocate (again). Springfield is just too small to risk staying when the sole source of contracts is this uncertain. We had hoped to last 9 or 10 years here before moving on again. Even if my contract is upheld do I risk staying another 12 months? Do I leave now and get the pain of relocation over with? A new administration is due in January, who knows whether that will be good for the contract climate or not.

I understood there would be risks working for myself. I weighed those against the gains for me. Even with this current crises I still feel as if the benefits the past 2 years have far outweighed the cost today. It has been a learning experience unlike any other I've had in 20 years as a professional. Now I need to decide if I've gotten the all the lessons this opportunity provides, or if there is some else to be learned.

Sigh.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.