One Year In

“God

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference”

Reinhold Niebuhr

Today marks my one-year anniversary as an Avaya employee.  As I wrote in It’s Déjà vu All Over Again, this is also the anniversary of my very first career job at Northern Telecom.  Who knows what the future has in store for me, but I just might end my working life as close as I can to where I began it.  That seems both weird and strangely fitting.  I am a creature of habit and routine and a sense of belonging is very important to me.

Not only do the dates line up, so does the work.  I started as a software developer, took a break for about a decade, and I am right back in the thick of it.  Of course, programming has come a long way since my days of writing in Intel 8085 assembler language.  In the end, though, coding is still coding.  No matter what the language or tools, it’s all about design, implementation, and test.  Gone are the days when I had to sweat over the number of bytes a subroutine consumed, but I still strive to write clean and efficient code.

That’s not to say that some things aren’t widely different.  Back in 1983, if I didn’t know how to do something, I asked my coworkers.  If they didn’t have the answer, I was on my own.  There was no GitHub or Stack Overflow to turn to.

That didn’t make us better programmers, though.  As much as I would love to brag about the good old days, everything took much longer back then.  We didn’t have the wealth of libraries and SDKs that are available today.  We spent too much time reinventing the wheel.  These days, I do a lot in node.js and npm (node package manager) is my best friend.  When you write in assembler, you write everything yourself.

Back to the Future

No job is perfect, but most days I truly love what I do.  It would be difficult to write my job description since it’s a whole lot of disconnected tasks and responsibilities.  A typical day has me writing code, researching new technology, speaking with sales and engineering folks, working with marketing, making videos, writing blogs, evangelizing, creating presentations, helping coworkers, customers, and partners, speaking to users groups, asking lots of questions, and struggling to say “no.” 

I often start my day deep into one technology and end it immersed in something completely different.  I found a niche for myself in the worlds of Avaya Spaces and Avaya Cloud Office APIs, but I can be called upon to work on just about anything — and I often am.  So far, I haven’t been totally flummoxed by a new assignment, but some days have stretched my brain about as far as it can go.

I can honestly say that I’ve grown quite a bit as a developer these past 12 months.  I still have a long way to go when it comes to user interfaces and html, but I have progressed to the point where I can whip up something passable in just a few minutes.  On a good day, I will even attach a .css file to my projects.  My strength still lies in the behind the scenes code, but I am no longer afraid to show people my UIs.

Of course, I started at Avaya smack dab in the middle of COVID-19 and haven’t seen the inside of an airport since March 2020.  Honestly, after decades of 30 to 50 thousand miles of airline travel every year, not flying has been a very welcome break.  I can’t imagine that this hiatus will last forever (my manager has already hinted at putting me out in front of people again), but for now I enjoy staying home and being productive.

Mischief Managed

Nothing lasts forever and I’ve learned to regard that as a good thing.  Change is inevitable and I am at my best when I accept, adapt, and grow from all the turmoil and chaos in my life.  The Serenity Prayer I quoted at the beginning of this article has become my salvation.  I strive to accept and find courage every single day.

This phase of my life is bound to change, too.  At present, I like my job and haven’t any serious notion of leaving it.  Yes, there have been a few offers over the past 12 months, but nothing compelling enough to get me to move.  Will that always be the case?  Who knows?  For now, though, I am happy integrating Avaya technology with just about any cloud service you can imagine.  I live by an “API First” approach and Avaya wholeheartedly supports that.

Early on in this blog article I mentioned routine. Even more important is passion. I need to feel passionate about what I’m doing and that is exactly how I feel today. I may drive people a little crazy with my tenacity, but as Sammy Davis Junior once said, “I gotta be me.”

Many thanks to the people who still have faith in me. I’m not finished yet.

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