Where Are Your Old Employers Today?

I’ve had a few different jobs at various companies over the years.  Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the companies I’ve worked for, and look as to what happened with them after I stopped working there.  Are they still in business?  Does my job still exist?

1996 – 1998 – Electronic Data Systems 

What I Did: I started there right out of college working on a technical help desk.  We were consolidating help desks at five or six client locations into one managed services central location.  It was a pretty fun job, as a lot of people were around my age, so the atmosphere was pretty loose.

Why I Left: As I said, it was an entry level position.  Pretty much everybody started off with an eye on going somewhere else.  Most of us wanted positions doing server implementations and such.  They paid for our certifications, which were all the rage back then, until a bunch of people got the certifications and promptly left.  I’m not going to lie, this was my plan too.  They wised up and cut out certifications…so I found an employer that was willing to finish my certification path and allow me to do exactly what I would have anyway.

What’s Happened Since: A few years after I left, EDS was sold to Hewlett Packard.  Most of the employees were absorbed in, but a lot of people eventually lost their jobs as the HP equivilent usually retained their positions, and many others that I know left citing a pretty big disconnect in culture.

Would I Still Have A Job: Well, since this was entry level, I would have no interest in still being on a help desk, but in reality, those jobs probably stopped becoming available within a few years after I left, as most of those types of jobs were sent overseas.  And, from what I mentioned above, it sounds like the chances would be pretty slim of me being there in any capacity.

1998 – 2002 Small Company Tech Support

What I Did: Just about everything. The company was a small but growing enterprise.  There was an application development arm that had about 10 people, and a ‘hardware’ side that did everything else.  At our peak, our group had five employees.  We did pretty much everything, from server installs to PC support to setting up e-mail, networks, printers.  I loved it because I learned so much, and I had a very supportive owner who was all for advancement.  To give an idea of this, one time I walked into his office to let him know that I was planning to pursue my MBA, just so he knew my schedule.  I walked out 15 minutes later with his full commitment to pay for my degree.

Why I Left: For the first three years or so, we were very busy, as it seemed any and all companies were replacing all hardware so as to avoid Y2K (remember that?).  After Y2K came and went, coupled with the recession and 9/11, things slowed down considerably.  At the same time, my boss took a gamble and merged his company with one owned by a friend of his, hoping that they could each grow into the areas that the other specialized in.  The new co-owner did not mesh well with any of the employees.  The slowdown plus the sudden culture change led to about half the employees leaving in less than a years time.

What Happened Since: The company still exists, in much smaller fashion.  But, they fill a niche.  My former boss realized that his new partner was a complete jerk, and they went through a very long, drawn out legal battle to separate, which cost them their friendship and also cost my boss the company name.  He later apologized for allowing things to change as they did.  We keep in touch every so often, and I have very high respect for him.

Would I Still Have A Job: Maybe.  The ‘computer team’ shrunk from five to one…the original guy that was there before me.  As it stands, I’ve done some side work for them now and again when they have large projects, but it sounds like they keep enough work for just one person.

2002 – 2005 Health Care IT

What I Did: I joined a company who had provided IT services to healthcare organizations.  They had a consulting arm and recently added a division to provide IT services to small and medium size hospital systems via outsourcing.  They took on the support for these organizations, and saved money by offering centralized help desk and operational services, as well as having more contract leverage with vendors.  I first worked onsite at a local hospital providing oversight to the onsite teams, as well as managing the migration of servers and some staff to the central data center.  I was very good at what I did, and spent some time doing short stints at other clients, until I was offered a job in management at the centralized data center.

Why I Left: After I took the job as manager, a new director was brought in.  He wanted to bring in his own people, and from what I gathered later, he preferred weaker managers under him.   I was good at what I did, and I believe he felt threatened.  So, he pinned something on me and got me pushed out so that he could bring in his own person.

What Happened Since: Getting let go was a pretty good thing, in retrospect.  Right around the time all that happened, the company was acquired by a larger company.  They came in and promised that they wanted us so that they could grow an outsourcing business along with the consulting business that they already had.  As it turns out this was a big lie.  They saw our company as a threat to their consulting services, so they bought our company essentially to eliminate the competition.  They took over most of that business, and let go of most of the consultants.  As for our group, the outsourcing area, it was worse.  They had no interest whatsoever in this group, so they basically let all contracts run out, provided no support, and let the whole thing fall to pieces.

Would I Still Have A Job: No way. All of the outsourced clients either brought their jobs in house or moved to a different company.  The central data center is shuttered.  The company has since been acquired by an even larger company, and I can only hope that the people who caused this ruin suffer the same fate as they brought on.

2005 – 2006 General Motors

What I Did: I was brought in as an IT auditor.  Looking at my past experience, it should be obvious that I never did this before, but they promised it would be something I could easily pick up and that they would work with me on.

What Happened: They didn’t.  I was not put in the group of the manager that hired me, and my manager had no interest in someone without experience.  It was a miserable experience and I was actually relieved when they pulled the plug nine months in when there were some cutbacks.

What Happened Since: The IT auditing group is still there.  I still keep in touch with a guy that’s there.  GM, of course, went downhill and ended up going through bankruptcy and a government bailout.  They seem very well put together now.

Would I Still Have A Job: Had I been assigned to the original hiring manager, I can see where I might have had success.  He was a lot more nurturing and I think would have stuck with his promise.  That being said, this was right around the time when GM was starting their march toward bankruptcy, so who knows if I would have stuck around or hit the bricks when it got really bad.

I’ve been where I currently work since then.  I did work for a different company for most of the time, as we were part of an outsourcing agreement, then brought in when they decided to bring IT back in house.  Regardless, I’ve always considered myself more an employee here anyways, so there really is no change.

There you have it, a look back, a look at where things have gone without me, and a quick thought on where I might fit today.  It’s always interesting to take a look back.  You learn from your past.  You have memories, experiences, and things that you take away that will help guide you in the future.

I’d love to hear your ‘past work’ stories.  Anything stick out on places you no longer work for?

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