Time to move on

After 5 years working as a software engineer (and then as a principal engineer), it is time for me to leave Tripadvisor.

This has been a complex decision for me, although I am quite sure is the correct one. It got me thinking, how do you know it is time to move on? for me it meant simply to wait until I was burnt out but in the case of Tripadvisor it has not been the case.

There are are essentially three important elements that I value when I work for a company.

  • Salary: This is the obvious one, without a salary 99% of the people will simply not go to work. It is also the easier to quantify as the salary + benefits are clearly defined by a number, and humans are good with numbers.
  • Work environment: In a nutshell this is how good is your relation with the rest of the coworkers, lets face it, you spend 8 hours + lunch (so, 9 hours) EVERY week day with those people, so it is fairly important that there is harmony at the work place, it does not need to be all unicorns and rainbows, normally it is just enough to simply not have too many jerks around.
  • Career development: This is a fundamental pillar yet it is impossible to quantify. A good friend of mine says that some developers have 10 years of experience while others have a single year of experience repeated 10 times.

However in my case none of those 3 pillars were particularly bad, although they were not perfect either.

So what was it?

Ironically I started thinking about change when I was at the best moment in the company and the reason I did so was because I knew that at such time I could make a reasonable decision in order to answer a simple question:

what could possibly happen here so that I would like to leave the company?

And the important part here is that I did NOT want to leave the company at that time (neither I had the intention!) and that is exactly why I was ready to answer that question to myself in a perfectly reasonable manner.

The important thing about it is that I had a benchmark, a signal, something that will tell me: ok buddy, that’s it, remember 2 years ago when you thought about this? well, it is time to update your resume.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Now that signal/benchmark that I had is personal and private, but it is really inconsequential, the important part was to have a benchmark, a clearly defined situation in which it would clear to me that I had to move on. Such behavior is exactly what allowed me to leave the company while I was still relatively happy with it.

Such behavior is what allowed me to leave in good terms with everybody, with a bittersweet feeling yet with the absolute confidence of knowing it was the right move.

Now looking back I wish I had applied this technique in the past, however it is quite tricky, because it involves asking yourself and uncomfortable question while you are in a comfortable position. It means facing your future self and letting him know: “this is it my friend, start packing”. And to do that in reasonable terms you have to do it while you are still happy so you will not let anger or frustration overrule reason.

All in all it has been 5 great years for me, and I truly wish Tripadvisor the very best.

Happy coding.