I’m about to embark on what will most likely be the biggest and most involving activity I have ever done. I’m leaving the UK to go and work in Africa.
What the hell?? Well, that is basically what is going through my mind right now. The decision process that led me here has been many years in the making, and has taken me through my entire IT career before my realisation of what it is that I need to do with my life, and what I can do with my life that will allow me to sleep at night and be the person I have always wanted to be.
First off, why am I doing this?
I have been working in IT for around 7 years. At first it was something that interested me, but as I continued to dig deeper I realised it was much more than that. I am a problem solver, and in the modern world, that means I work with technology to enable people to work more productively and as efficiently as possible. For a long time, that meant answering the phones, and applying my common sense to everyone else’s problems. As a first line support analyst, I envisaged a career path that would take me away from first line, allowing others to think about silly things like password resets and “have you checked the power cable” scenarios, but alas, the further up the IT-ladder you go, the more you realise that everyone is incompetent, most of all the 2nd and 3rd line people who you work with. This is, of course, my experience of my career. I am in no way suggesting that everyone works like this, far from it, but in MY career, I have been surrounded by a few brilliant people, and many jobsworths: that is, people who go to work, and literally do not care about anything other than their paycheck.
This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered enterprise-level incompetence. It’s everywhere, throughout my time in support, I have seen so many things that make you, as a professional, want to bang your head against the wall in anger. I’m not going to go into any more detail here, suffice to say, I’ve had enough, and it’s time for me to take my skills elsewhere, where they will (hopefully) be appreciated for what it is: a genuine wish for people to understand the technology around them better, to remove my arrogant nature that I seem to have adopted in recent years, and finally to grow up a bit, learn more about myself, how my mind works, and how I interact with others – not much then!!!
Then there is the moral issue. My previous job at Arup was a good one, that I enjoyed thoroughly, until the politics kicked in. The company prided itself on being at the forefront of green engineering, sustainable growth and community-lead development, with many of their projects involving the education and public sectors, and many high-profile projects having worldwide acclaim. My issues revolved around my boss, who was to put it bluntly, an ageing dinosaur of IT, who knew little of new technologies, and had no willingness to learn new techniques, meaning I felt cramped and constrained within what was sold to me as a very open and free environment, where ingenuity and open-mindedness were encouraged. That was not the case. Meanwhile, my life was in tatters. Having been through many incarnations of “modern Craig” but none of them sticking, I needed another change, and leaving bristol to retreat to Scotland for a few months proved to be the right step for me, at an otherwise very difficult time in my life. When I returned in March this year, after losing my best friend, I thought all was lost. I had strengthened my outlook, but my dependency on my best pal to be there for me, ultimately lead to me falling much further down the hole than I wanted to, which also makes this ascension all the more fulfilling to boot.
Over the years I have continuously ranted on about how I want to travel the world, and on the rare occasions I have left the UK on holiday, I have found things to latch onto in every community I have visited. To this end, I am confident that I will find what I’m looking for, and also be pleasantly surprised along the way. The opportunity I have been given is far from a simple job change or career move, I am taking my life out of the UK, removing all trace of foundation, and sending myself over 4,000 miles away to Africa!
The more I think about it, the more I feel like this is what I was meant to do. In trying to find “something” to work towards and something to be part of that I can be proud of, I have in fact realised a life long dream, that I never thought possible. At the end of 2010, i will be flying out of the UK, to start my new life as computer centre manager for the Village Education Project Kilimanjaro, based in Mshiri village, on the southern slopes of mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and the 5th highest free-standing peak in the world.
Onwards and forward!!!