I generally don’t get too bothered when I lose my job. I shrug, shake the dust from my sandals, and move on. However, I must admit to some irritation when it was a part-time job I was doing for free in my spare time just to help out.
A lot of database people do free work for charities and societies, even when they’re working. When you’re unemployed, the value of doing this sort of thing is even greater. It keeps your hand in, and forces you to keep up with the technologies. I enjoy it because I use such tools as C# that I don’t have time for in my day job, and it broadens my experience.
When my indignation subsided from getting the sack, it began to dawn on me how irritating I must have been for them. Because my own working life swings wildly from busy to ridiculous, I sometimes don’t deliver unpaid work to dates. These organizations don’t appreciate that your priorities don’t coincide with theirs, especially when other people are giving their time for free. I can’t do much about it. When my paid work makes extra demands on my time, then it has to come first.
Arnie Rowland’s excellent Project Phoenix initiative to provide tools and training for twenty-four unemployed, or underemployed, developers in the USA and Canada is worthy of all our support. It’s a great idea which Arnie has pursued with energy. I’m hoping that it will provide valuable experience for subsequent projects.
Project Phoenix provides a good measure of support and mentoring into the projects that are adopted. It is a good idea to ‘open-source’ the projects to allow any of us to chip in help, and to involve the MVPs . if this idea catches on as I hope it will, it will be great to try to develop more ways of ensuring the continuity of the development by providing backup developer-time in case the developers aren’t able to provide the work that they committed to. Maybe, we could work out structured ways of providing voluntary ongoing support for live projects. Organizations like these are entitled to as good a service as commercial ones, since their workforce is also expected to do the same. I feel stupid about having to learn the lesson the hard way.