Steve Eley (sfeley) wrote,
Steve Eley

The Day Job

I've made reference to this in a bunch of places, but I don't think I've given the full explanation anywhere.  I wasn't trying for mystery; I just didn't take the time.  Here's what I'm doing these days:

Since the end of August, I've been the Director of Technology for the American Academy of Religion.  A lot of my friends are flabbergasted that I'd work anywhere with "Religion" in the title, given my vocal agnostic leanings (not to mention my notoriety with invisible pink unicorns).  But this isn't a religious group per se; rather, they're the academic society for professors and grad students in most branches of theology.  It's a really diverse crowd.

I got the job thanks to puck, via kittyavatar.  I can honestly say it's the best job I've ever had.  Working for a non-profit is cool enough, but this is a small staff of dedicated and really intelligent people with literary leanings.  (How many breakrooms have a running Scrabble game that everyone takes way too seriously?)  What we're doing is critical to our members' careers, and it turns out accountability to people and empowerment to excute my own decisions is what it takes to really keep me motivated.

It's pretty tough work.  My main project is to replan and totally rebuild the Web site, which is currently running on (don't flinch) Microsoft Access databases.  Right now I'm really the technology resource, so I'm having to be troubleshooter, programmer, and strategist at the same time.  It's hard but fulfilling; I'm operating at an executive level but also keeping my hands dirty.  I like it.  The way my predecessor built applications was Byzantine, but we're already delivering features beyond what any comparable academic society has on their sites.  If I can simplify those features and reimplement them in Rails or some other decent technology, we could be onto something really innovative and important for general knowledge sharing.

I also have a large office with a full-length window in a building surrounded by trees.  It's on the Emory University campus, which is lovely.  And although we're an independent 501(c)(3), we outsource our HR through the university, so I'm technically an Emory employee and have access to all their benefits.  It's like being a particle and a wave at the same time, whichever's more convenient.

So that's what I'm up to.  It's one reason I've been way too busy lately.  But it's good.  This is a job that's making me want to work harder and put in more hours than I've technically had to; it's motivating me not just to slide by, but to do good work because I'm the only one who can do it.  I haven't had that feeling with a job since... 

(*pause for thought*)

No.  I've never had it.
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