A companion piece, in no particular order, to the excellent http://squarism.com/2014/06/06/default-dc-tech-is-just-bad/
Even if you aren’t in the cloak-and-dagger space, chances are you will be near it and that means a truck-load of issues that will decay your soul.
Let me tell you about the 3 dumbest words you’ll ever hear: “Sensitive but unclassified”. Now, I’m sure you know what classified material is: secret stuff. You can’t look at it without a clearance, you can’t have it stored in a room that’s not protected, etc.
Sensitive but unclassified means, “this must be treated like classified data, mostly, even though it’s not”. So, anyone can look at it, right? Because it’s not actually classified? No. Only certain people can. Who? It depends. Uh, on what? It depends. OK on … ? Lots of factors.
So what we have here is, placing a large neon pink dildo on the table in a room full of people, and stating very loudly, “Only certain people in this room may discuss certain objects placed on specific tables. No one else should look at this specific object.”
But it’s right there in the open. How do you not.
It is important to note that breaking whatever rules might happen to apply to the data – which you may not know about in advance, unlike actually classified data – carries the full weight of law. Meaning you can go to jail if Asok the Intern admits to the Defense Security Service he looked at the big pink dildo.
“But why don’t they just classify it?”, you might ask. Because people need to see it, that aren’t cleared, and in the post-9/11 DC classifying everything they actually want to would make it impossible for anyone to have a job; you’d have to classify everyone, down to the 7-11 cashiers.
On the topic if “Sharepoint Architect” jobs, or just finding a jobby-job with ease: oh yeah. If you are going to live in NoVA/DC and maintain some sort of casual LinkedIn-type job-hunting presence – even if you’re totally happy and not intending to job-hunt at all – prepare for a literal fuckton of emails from recruiters who use the same cookie-cutter “I really like your skills in … ” BS. You can probably sail into a job here, if you don’t really care much about it.
Technologies get embedded in DC tech life. It’s scary-easy to get a job if you’re good at Sharepoint, or Drupal. There are going to be Sharepoint and Drupal jobs in DC for millennia.
This also means, you can end up as the COBOL guy. There are companies running HPUX data warehouses, because HP gave them some 500-year-long support contract, and by-god they’re going to run that goddamn thing out. There’s guys who missed the entire Linux revolution, because they tend – possibly lovingly – to a decades-old dinosaur.
(I’m being sort-of unfair, since HPUX is actually a pretty modern, high-performance proprietary Unix and still actively maintained, but you get my point.)
Another great point:
Politics matter. Congressional BS will impact you. I have friends who have lost “stable” jobs because of some really weird contract expiring or the “wrong type” of money being in the “wrong bucket”.
YUP. You have to get used to this. Congress will kill your company – or the economy – to make a (political) point. Government shutdowns harm lots of people in the area, and I’m pretty sure they’re the new normal, so get used to it. Even if you are a 100% private company, odds are you’ll have government customers or users, and when they’re fucked over, you get fucked over.
Things are getting better. Out in the ‘burbs, there’s some people trying to introduce better tech, sneaking in AngularJS and Golang into staid, boring jobby-jobs. There’s some venture-funded startups downtown, with hip offices and regular hackathons. We’re becoming the “big data” capital, thanks to AWS-East and other huge-ass data centers (most a few miles from my house!). Healthcare.gov was a debacle, but overall this administration has been far more forward-thinking than any before it – there’s even a hip “incubator“!
Things in DC are shitty, and it’s easy to just find a job and hide in the vast negative space that occupies 99% of the government sector. But, there’s good things happening. DC wants to have a hip startup-style scene. DC wants to use the not-insignificant amount of brain power and money in this region to do more than maintain decade-old Cold Fusion apps. DC wants to create a technology economy independent of the Federal Government, or failing that, one that is sleek, agile, and modern; a better government helps us all.
But I’m not sure DC can and so I think about leaving a lot. And if I wasn’t underwater on my house, I’d probably be looking at Portland, too.