Almost 3 months into the new gig

I am coming up on 90 days in my new role as an AWS architect, working as a contractor for a major media company, and it has been quite a change. Moving  from working in K-12 education to information security in the cloud has been quite a challenge, and I do enjoy going to work each day (except for the commute, that never gets better).  Here are a couple of observations:

  1. Contracting is lonely work 
    I am used to being part of a small team, and that is not how my role is seen on a day to day basis. I am assigned to a security team, but I am not part of that team, as I am always just 30 days away from being reassigned. I am left to do my thing, and the rest of the group goes to their own meetings and eats together, while I have my salad in my cubicle. There is little camaraderie among consultants, as we are all from different consulting groups and companies, and vastly different cultures. I tried to join a lunch group, but it seems to have fizzled out. Maybe I killed it by accident, who knows.
  2. Everyone is smarter than me
    I know this is a condition where I will grow and develop, but I am a new architect, and all of my fellow architects are building these amazing systems. I spend most of my day doing customer support and building python scripts and reading the boto3 documentation. These days I am working on building a web front end, learning the Flask and Django frameworks and hacking away.
  3. Corporate life is weird
    Working for two large corporations is more than a little strange, especially when one has a large operational group that is 12 hours ahead, so I get emails and meetings in the wee hours that I can not possibly hope to attend. There are so many little processes and rules to get any changes made, where as when I was in charge of all things technology I could make changes with impunity. Now I have to see which sets of hoops I have to jump through. I have to submit two separate time sheets, which is funny because everyone at my old organization complained when they implemented a time clock system for payroll.
  4. This AWS thing is quite the onion
    Most of my day is spent working with S3, SQS, CloudFormation, Lambda and EC2 scaling groups and launch configs. I am always worried that I will ask a stupid question of someone who will remember me, so I am always digging through the docs and googling everything. Sometimes I will set up the test question on my personal or other work account, so that I can keep my ‘DOH!’ answer and the accompanying shame to myself. Specifically, I couldn’t figure out how to see graphically how much data was in an S3 bucket. I have never had a reason to click on the Management / Metrics button in the last two years of working with S3. So glad I didn’t ask that of our AWS technical account manager. I’ve managed to build an interesting application using DynamoDB, Lambda, EC2 and S3, using a couple of the services for the first time.
  5. The days are long
    I start my day at 5am, and work for my old gig for an hour or so. I have a commute that is either 50 or 90 minutes, depending on the vagaries of the traffic gods. I start work at 8:30am, and use the pomodoro method to get 25 minute sprints of intense concentration. I have a closing stand up meeting at 4:30pm, and usually get on the road home at 5pm, and get home 6-6:30pm. I work for my other gig for about 2 hours, and get to sleep about 9pm. Not much time for studying or fun.
  6. The prospects are looking good
    While I may only be on this project for another couple of months, I work for a special group of the company that cuts across all market segments, so as long as the cloud is the hot new thing, I will have work. I’m trying to develop my skills (in the free hour between midnight and 1am) so I can move to the dev/ops team if my time with my current team is up. The average longevity of the other consultants is years rather than months, so that helps remove some anxiety.