Mastodon Verification Link New Job, New Career. – Sam Seltzer-Johnston

Oct 20, 2018

New Job, New Career.

Big news: I made a career change.

Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions are my own. My blog is not representative of, or on the behalf of anyone but myself.

I started my new job in late July and have been generally pleased with it so far.

TL;DR Some exceptional individuals got me here, new job is more aligned with my interests and target career path, and it has afforded me many positive changes.

Shout outs

I want to thank the maintainer of the Orx Project for (perhaps unwittingly) mentoring me in my free time. Without him, I don’t think I would have been considered for my new job. Having some low-level engine/portability experience under my belt was a great asset. I also want to thank Casey Muratori. Although he never directly involved himself in my learning, and doesn’t even know who I am, his blog and stream changed my life. He fundamentally changed the way I thought about programming and development in general. He broke me free of the doctrines and dogmatic tendencies of modern software engineering. This was also a distinct asset that helped me land the job. It’s sad to watch the majority of engineers remain stuck in that rut, but I can respect that people are using what they think works best for them. Milage always varies. I think Alistair Cockburn’s (perhaps ironic) Oath of Non-Allegiance was another important discovery along the way. Big shout out to the supportive new friends I met on Trainjam 2018 who gave me the perspective and courage I needed to get myself out of a bad work environment. Give them some love. Last but not least, shout out to Stout Systems for finding me a new workplace. Most recruiting companies are crappy, but this one somehow isn’t. That is remarkable and worth mentioning. Thanks all!

The new job

I’m pleased to announce that my new job looks like a big step in the right direction for me. I now work in 3D simulation. My specific duties involve working on something similar to a game engine. This is very exciting as I have finally adjusted my career velocity toward games. I can say goodbye to automotive diagnostics forever. It’s a big jump. This is truly a pivotal moment in my career. I started on July 30th.

One major thing I’ve noticed since then is that making other positive motions in my life have been effortless since the career change. I’ve heard of how people “become a new person” when they make a transition from a bad work situation to a better one, but I never knew how dramatic the change could be. Working harder, eating healier, higher quality exercise, landing real gamedev side-work, and numerous other self-improvements such as meditation and yoga followed shortly after. Like, within mere weeks. All of these were unthinkable before. It’s incredible what a difference a better workplace has made for me. It speaks volume for the meaning of it all; If you’re spending most of your time feeling like crap in a crappy place for yourself, you’re living a generally crap life and will treat yourself as such despite your best efforts. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, but it clearly was for me. I’m so fortunate to have found my way here.

Now let me tell you what the most immediately impactful work-life change was.


Yep. That’s what it was. Out of all the other positive differences that seemed to stand out, this one somehow surprised me and managed to take the cake. Having my first completely silent work day had a big impact on me. To simply work without distractions. I don’t know how I got anything done at my last job, or how anyone else did. I now have virtually no sound or movement around me for most of my work day. Just the still air of the quiet mostly empty room I do my work in. Something magical happened when I first noticed this, and every day I take a moment to appreciate it.

Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s far more tolerable when you’re not forced to be in an already-chaotic space for most of your day.

I had never identified a quiet workspace as a top priority before, or even knew what one was like in practice, but now that I’ve experienced it I think it would be hard to go back.

The last-straw was not so obvious

In retrospect, I think the old workplace has a promising future. I left at a very interesting time for the company: at the outset of an acquisition, leadership change, and strong possibility of a work-culture shift. I occasionally wonder what it’s like there now. That being said, I have no intent to go back.

Over the years, I manufactured all manner of internal and external attributions to what was wrong with my work life. In the end, I think all I needed was a truly quiet workspace. My feeling now is that a distracting work environment is not okay for anyone. Period. I wasn’t the first person to leave for these reasons. We lost several experienced and talented engineers over the years due to what I think now were different kinds of distractions in the workplace.

If you’re working on a cognitive task (i.e. most engineering), peace and quiet needs to at least be an option. Unfortunately, I’ve found that in some places, headphones are not enough.

This wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. In retrospect it gradually wore me down to a breaking point. There were other more obvious reasons it was a bad fit for me from the outset, but that’s a first job for ya. Automotive was never right for me, and I knew it from the start. The main path forward was deeper into automotive. But hey, I had to start somewhere. Letting it suck the life out of me for 3 years is on me.

Wrapping up

As usual, I want to blog more. I’ve got a lot of drafts and topics to catch up on. Maybe I’ll make more time, but a big barrier for me is how I want to craft my online presence going forward. Maybe my writings won’t all be here in the future. Who knows?


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