StartupVille was looking for a good support guy. They had a solid software product and they’d convinced a small number of companies to buy it. These companies would call in and ask for assistance.
Sound familiar? It should, because supporting software packages is what I did for the first four years of my career, back when I was with SoftwareCompany. This particular package centered around configuration management. You can read the wikipedia page about CM solutions if you’re interested in learning more on this topic — I won’t get into it here.
At any rate, up until I was hired, the engineering staff fielded these calls directly, and it was a burden on them. So I took control of all customer requests, and began to build out infrastructure to audit and manage the incoming tickets. This was my primary job function and it wasn’t all that bad because the workload was reasonable. Instead of fighting the goblin horde, I faced off against a small pack of maybe five. Totally manageable for a high-level warrior like me.
As an added bonus, I’d already acquired most of the skills I needed to be successful in this role so there was virtually no training ramp-up like either of my first two jobs. I hit the ground running, more or less — my second week there, I was already talking to a few end-users and resolving problems. It was an absolute relief to not have to do more Matrix-style knowledge uploads into my brain.
Also, because StartupVille was, of course, a startup company, everyone was asked to be a little bit flexible in their function. You know the whole hat analogy in the business world — we put on a different one, and suddenly, viola! We’re doing a different job.
This was a good development for me personally. I spent some time working with our quality assurance team, filled in as a sales engineer for brief periods of time, and provided feedback on the future direction of the software. On two occasions that year, I traveled to a client site to resolve a dicey issue.
Although I wore a lot of hats, none of them felt all that heavy. Best of all, I was allowed to remove them whenever I wanted.
Functionally, I think that this is as good as it gets, for an office job.
Hindsight hasn’t changed that initial opinion a bit.