Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Big Break Came From Another's Service

"Be good to others," my boss told me. "You never know where your next break will come from. Besides, kindness costs you very little." He went on to tell me about being in a situation where he had to regularly meet with the same group of people for a number of months. He wasn't close to any of them but maintained a good professional relationship with each.

A couple of years later when a position opened up in another area, one of my boss' colleagues from his old task group championed him for the job, which was a promotion for him. He still had no idea why she did this, since there were other competent applicants that might have fit better. But he figured that exercising common courtesy and treating team members respectfully had helped.

A couple of years later I was doing decreasing amounts of tax auditor work and increasing amounts of office automation. This allowed auditors in our office to focus less on clerical functions and more on audit functions that required human judgment. It also provided information to which they previously had little access. I was gaining a reputation as a competent programmer,

One day my boss (a different boss by this time) called me into his office and said that the I.T. department had requested me to work on a 120-day temporary assignment. I wondered how they selected me. I didn't even know anyone the I.T. department, but I jumped at the chance.

By the time my temporary assignment was coming to a close I had proven my I.T. worth by successfully completing development work on several projects. There was talk of extending my assignment. To my disappointment, the approval didn't come through and I unhappily returned to my old auditor digs.

Eventually a permanent programmer position was announced and I applied. But things move awfully slowly in government agencies. So months went by before I was finally selected for the job. In the meantime I spent many evenings going back to school to enhance my programming skills.

I later learned that a lady in the personnel department whom I only obliquely knew had been my great benefactor. She had engineered my first temporary assignment to the I.T. department. She had also killed the extension of that assignment because she knew that I.T. would keep me on temporary assignment indefinitely rather than fill a permanent position that had growth potential. (The money came out of different budgets categories.) When I.T. couldn't fill the temporary assignment they were forced to open a stable position. My temporary assignment had uniquely qualified me for the job.

Thus my career was permanently changed for the better thanks to the work of a lady I hardly knew. I will never know why she worked to benefit me. It is quite possible that I just happened to provide the easiest way for her to accomplish her own assignments. Regardless, I will always be grateful for her help. It has helped me achieve many things in life that would otherwise have been impossible.

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