Moving on from Mozilla

Today – Friday, May 22nd, 2020 – is within days of my 5-year anniversary with Mozilla, and it’s also my last day there for a while. Working at Mozilla has been an amazing experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

There are some things that Mozilla does extremely well, and I’m excited to spread those patterns to other parts of the industry. And there are areas where Mozilla has room for improvement, where I’d like to see how others address those challenges and maybe even bring back what I learn to Moz someday.

Why go?

When I try to predict what my 2025 or 2030 self will wish I’d done with my career around now, I anticipate that I’ll want access to opportunities which build on a background of technical leadership and mentoring junior engineers.

It wouldn’t be impossible to create these opportunities within Mozilla, but from talking with trusted mentors both inside and outside the company, I’ve concluded that I would get a lot more impact for the same effort if I was working within a growing organization.

As a mature organization, Mozilla’s internal leadership needs are very different from those of a younger and more actively growing company. There’s a far higher bar at Moz for what it takes to be the best person for a task, because the saturation of “best people” is quite high and the prevalence of entirely new tasks is relatively low in comparison. Technical leadership here seems to often require creating a need as well as filling it. At a growing organization, on the other hand, the types and availabilities of such opportunities are very different.

I’m especially looking forward to leveling up on a different stack in my next role, to improve my understanding of the nuances of the underlying problems our technolgies address. I think it’s a bit like learning a second language: only through comparing and contrasting multiple solutions to the same sort of problem can one understand what traits corrolate to all those solutions’ strengths versus which details are simply incidental.

Why now?

I’ll be the first to admit that May 2020 is a really strange time to be changing jobs. But I have an annual tradition of interviewing at several places, learning what their stacks and cultures and unique fractals of tech debt look like, and then turning down an offer or two because changing roles would be a step backwards for both my career development and overall quality of life.

Shortly before the global conference circuit ground to a halt along with everything else, I started interviewing from a DevOps Advocate position, just to explore what it might look like to turn my teaching hobby into a day job. By the time those interviews were complete, the tech evangelism space had been turned inside out and was rapidly reinventing itself, and the skills that qualified me for the old world of devrel were looking less and less like the kind of expertise that might be needed to succeed in the new one. However, a SRE from the technical interviews suggested that I interview for her team, and upon taking that advice I discovered an organization that keeps most of the stuff I loved about Mozilla while also offering the other opportunities that I was looking for.

As with anywhere, there are a few aspects of my new role that I suspect may not be as great yet as where I’m leaving, but these areas of improvement look like things that I’ll be able to have some influence over. Or at least there’ll be room to push the Overton Window in a good direction!

Want more details on the new role? I’ll be writing more about it after I start on June 1st!