A new beginning

On September 30, 2009, I walked out the door of WellPoint’s Davis Center (and off to a long-planned vacation, ironically) unemployed, after the layoff and off-shoring of the helpdesk that I’d been part of for 8 1/2 years, believing it wouldn’t be long before I got back to work.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It took 10 months to find a contract position — back at WellPoint, for their HMC subsidiary, through TEKSystems.  I figured I’d stay there a few months, then find something more permanent to do.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It took two years.

Fortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel this time isn’t an oncoming train, but a fresh start.

On August 13, I start a new position as a Help Desk Analyst for McGuireWoods LLP in downtown Richmond.  McGuireWoods is a law firm with roots in Virginia (back to 1834 in Charlottesville), but a larger perspective (19 offices in the USA, England, and Belgium).

It’s a direct-hire position — no messy contracts.  And it’s a chance to get a foot in the door of a place where I can, I hope, get a career track going.

It’s also a Monday-Friday business-hours position — unlike the weekend/night hours I’ve been doing at HMC.  There’s so much more to do when you’re off at night instead of working nights…

…but let me be clear, I’m not knocking HMC.   They’re going through a slow, somewhat painful, transition from an autonomous WellPoint subsidiary to an internal business unit.   Because of that transition, I couldn’t get hired for permanent work… and because of my low seniority (which would’ve been fixed had I been hired, as my first run at WellPoint would have been credited back), I couldn’t get out of second shift.  At this point, I just hope for the best for the folks I’m leaving.

It’s been a wild ride looking for employment over the last few years… some of the horror stories include:

  • An interview with a healthcare company looking for “a help desk analyst with a little security background”.  The day after I interviewed, it became “a security analyst with a little help desk background”.  I didn’t qualify anymore…
  • My first interview with a downtown cloud-computing firm went fairly well, so I was called back for a second interview.  When I walked into their offices, they were in barely-controlled chaos. Seems that a hacker had taken down the server where much of their data was stored — they weren’t the target, it was another firm co-located on the server — and while my second interview took place, it was clearly forgotten almost immediately.  Neither I nor my recruiter ever got an answer as to what happened, so I’ll always wonder if they simply thought I was bad karma walking.
  • I interviewed for a web support position with Media General — the day before they announced they were putting themselves up for sale, freezing all hiring.
  • And there are probably more that I’ve forgotten… I need to go over my notes and maybe do a second post…

This is all somewhat new ground for me — I realized when I prepared to submit my resignation that I hadn’t voluntarily left a job in almost 20 years.  My last resignation was in 1994, when I left Fair Lanes in Bolingbrook, IL to move to Richmond and work for AMF.  They laid me off in 2001.  I went to WellPoint, which laid me off in 2009.  I had to reacquaint myself with the protocols for leaving a job… and there is a small irony — I started at HMC on August 10, 2010.  Depending on how we work out my notice period, I may leave on August 10, 2012 (but probably not – more likely my last day is August 12).

Well… I’ll have plenty of opportunity to blog the singing competition shows this fall…

OK, I need to wrap up, but before I go — thanks to my friends and family who’ve listened to my tales of interviewing woe (and other complaints)… and especially to those who’ve provided leads, referrals, and references along the way.   I appreciate all of you more than I can express.

And now… two weeks and counting.  I can’t wait to get started.

We’ll talk soon.


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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