I’ve Got The World On A String…

Today, I received my end of term evaluation, found out my grade for the Wilfrid Laurier business class I took, and am packing for my trip to PEI. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

Tying back to the whole ‘loyalty’ subject, I was extremely pleased to hear that my work for Sybase was appreciated. This semester has taught me more than any study semester has, and so I hoped that I contributed as much as possible back to Sybase. I’ve worked hard and I was touched to read the comments from full-time employees I had worked with on various projects. The ‘Outstanding’ evaluation I received today (the highest one may get, I might add) capped off my best and most cherished work semester yet. I can only imagine what the goofy grin I maintained all through the review must have looked like to my manager. I’ve tried to reach out and help out as much as I could with the entire co-op community at Sybase. I felt it was my duty to give back to it what it has given me over the past two semesters. That work also paid off in other ways. It was noted that interpersonal relationships were a specific area of strenght, developed through my work with the co-op group and my interactions with the permanent employees.

A check of the online Quest system for my university showed that I had finally received a grade for my Laurier business course, an A+. Needless to say, I’m extremely pleased. Although there were some things with that course that were made more difficult by the co-op semester (the group projects were certainly part of it), I enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course, I’d be remiss not to thank my Dad in part, as he taught me a significant amount of the business and accounting knowledge that I possess. Between the co-op job itself, the business course and my participation in the University of Waterloo orchestra, it’s been one full and successful semester.

And as I wind down my last day at Sybase, I find myself packing things away in preparation for my trip to Prince Edward Island in less than two days. I look forward to it with great excitement and anxiety at the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my old friends and the Island. I’m already preparing myself for significant changes in both. Although I don’t consciously realize it, I’m certain I’ve changed over the last year as well. I have a stop-over in Halifax for almost two hours, so I’m sure I’ll pass the time writing from the comfort (…) of the airport waiting areas.

Now, I want apologize for the boastful nature of this post. It’s been a significant day for me and I wanted to share it with everyone and perhaps even myself in 10 years’ time, when I’ll be able to look back and simply smile.

Sybase, Loyalty, and Moving Forward

My fourth work term overall and second one at Sybase in product management is coming to and end this Wednesday and I’m facing the last few days with some sadness.

One thing I can say about myself, without hesitation, is that I am almost absurdly loyal. I’m one of those employees that is pained by a poor earnings report or news of a lost deal. Case in point: while working at Bell Mobility was amazing as I had the opportunity to work with wireless technologies that I was interested in, it was also mentally and emotionally painful. For those of you who have followed Bell over the past 5-8 years or so, you’ll know that they’ve fallen quite far from their original dominant position in the Canadian telecommunications business, in no small part due to some poor business decisions on their part.

And so it pains me a great deal to be moving on from Sybase. I will not be returning for a third semester. It’s partly due to my desire to take advantage of the co-op program and try out some different jobs, but it’s also that I’ve realized my passion just doesn’t lie in database technology. I spoke with the Product Management director regarding my future at Sybase, and I spoke the truth. As much as I have loved working at Sybase, I’m ready to continue my search. Over the past two semesters, I’ve gotten to know the company and the people. Sybase has opened my eyes to the world of Product Management and I hope (and know) that I’ve contributed my fair share back to it. My decision not to return has nothing to do with Sybase and everything to do with my own, admittedly somewhat selfish, concerns. Wednesday will be a difficult day. My consolation is that I’ll be leaving Sybase at the best of times, as its products have driven great success in the past year, from crossing the $1 billion revenue mark to posting stellar Q1 2008 results.

This semester has cemented my feeling that product management or a similar position is what I want to pursue in the future. I don’t have my mind set on any specific market, although I’ve developed an even deeper interest in the web through various projects I’ve worked on this semester. Yet in the back of my mind, a potential position I’ve been incubating for the past month still burns and excites me.

The next month will be an exciting, and yet worrisome time as I go through the application and interview process. Will I find another workplace that I’ve loved as much as Sybase? Will I find a job that I want to go to every day like I have at Sybase? We’ll soon see.

Work Frustrations

Not everything’s fun and games, even at my beloved job at Sybase. That just wouldn’t be realistic. It all started about a week ago…

I was given a web application to write. After some discussion, I was presented with a list of constraints – PHP4 and SQL Anywhere 9.0.2 were the two main things to keep in consideration. Although I hadn’t much prior experience with designing and writing a PHP web app from the ground up, I was confident I could learn quickly, given the multitude of resources available. I started work on the project with my initial set of requirements.

That was the point I fell sick, and missed a couple days of work. Knowing that time was tight, I continued work on the project, and after a couple days had a decent chunk of the implementation completed. Unbeknownst to me, an additional meeting had already been planned with the interested parties while I was away. Upon my return, I attended a meeting at 10 in the morning to discuss the application in more detail. At this point, I was told that PHP was no longer an option. SQL Anywhere’s HTTP server would be used and everything had to be incorporated within a database, meaning all HTML was to be served by web services and stored procedures.

I won’t even detail the fact that in one fell swoop, I no longer had the use of a server-side scripting language. For a web application that was to include registration and account administration components, this would make my life much tougher. Plus, I had no prior experience with writing a web app using only our database’s HTTP server. While I eventually found out that it is possible to do what I was after, I had to learn the whole system before I could start coding the application. After working slowly through the new method of implementation, I ran into two main problems that required a significant amount of ‘hack-ish’ work, which I was not familiar with at all. Given the time frame I was dealing with, I presented my concerns and reiterated my desire to implement the application using PHP.

As of the end of work today, I’ve made quite a bit of progress in convincing the parties of the improved efficiency I’d be able to achieve by using PHP. At least I am familiar with the language so that I can spend the bulk of my time implementing the application and not learning ways to implement server-side scripting with the SQL Anywhere HTTP server.  It isn’t a question of the capability of the SQL Anywhere HTTP server – it definitely has the ability to do what I need it to. It’s just a matter of time, time that I don’t have to learn the intricacies of the system. I just wish this whole flip-flop hadn’t occured in the first place – I would have saved a lot of time and would be far less stressed now. I’m sure this sort of thing happens plenty of times in everyone’s working career though. I’m just glad the people I’m working with are understanding and seem to be open to going back to PHP.

One Sybase. One Team. One Billion.

I’m proud to be a part of a historic event at Sybase. Announced on Jan. 24, 2008, Sybase’s 2007 revenue surpassed $1 billion US for the first time. Since my previous semester at Sybase, there have been banners up around the building with the slogan ‘One Sybase. One Team. One Billion’. The milestone was something of a psychological achievement as well as a financial requirement of sorts, since that number had been given out to analysts and shareholders as a forecast for the year.

Growth was phenomenal over the past year, with people both inside and outside the company really grabbing on to the Unwired Enterprise platform. In addition, Sybase IQ has gained a lot of traction in the business intelligence market. All in all, it was a pretty good time to be a part of Sybase and its success.

In recognition and celebration of the milestone, Sybase held an event globally with the executive team to discuss our success of 2007 and to look forward to more growth in 2008. At Sybase iAnywhere in Waterloo, we had an all-hands lunch BBQ this past Friday and everyone was given a nice pin, as a reminder of the success we’ve had at Sybase. I was able to feel a bit of pride, since I’d worked at the company in 2007, during my previous co-op semester.

One Sybase. One Team. One Billion

It’s not often one gets to be a part of a company during a historic event. It’s even more rare (I’d imagine) when you’re not even out of university!

Sybase iAnywhere at RIM Park Job Fair

Despite the terrifying weather we’ve been having today, I spent the day up in the far north reaches of Waterloo at RIM Park, representing Sybase at the semi-annual Partnerships for Employment Job/Career Fair. The Fair is aimed at University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, Wilfred Laurier University, and Conestoga College students. Typically anywhere from 2500 – 4000 students and recent grads show up (and over 250 employers), but given the poor weather, most were expecting less people. Nevertheless, it was extremely busy – we won’t know the numbers for a while, but as the first of these fairs I’ve been to, it was very crowded and just a bustle of activity. There was minimal downtime when I wasn’t speaking with one student or another about possible positions they were interested in. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, made especially interesting as I was on the employer side of the booth. I have to thank the Sybase iAnywhere HR team both for giving me the opportunity and for their confidence in me to represent Sybase iAnywhere.

Partnerships for Employment Job Fair

Another aspect of it was the learning experience. The more experienced members of the Sybase team walked me through different ways to judge the candidates I’d be speaking to. I know it’s typically unkind to judge people based on first impressions, but it’s a big part of hiring and screening candidates. It’s one thing to get a whole pile of resumés from a system like UWaterloo’s Jobmine, but being able to speak with them, face to face, allows one to get an immediate idea of character, regardless of what the resumé states. From that, I also learned what things to say or ask (and equally, what things not to say) and how to approach a situation when you’re going in cold, without any prior introduction. I met my fair share of extremely competent and well-spoken students, and just as many on the other end of the scale. I’m sure a lot of it could be chalked up to nervousness – and seriously, how many opportunities do most students get at this sort of spontaneous one-on-one face time?

All in all, a great experience. It was a ton of fun to interact with people I don’t normally work with and do something that definitely wasn’t in my job description. Gotta love it!