Joining Stride Learning

Yesterday, I wrote about leaving Adaptavist. Today, I’m excited to write about joining Stride.

I got both my job at Adaptavist and my job at Stride through LinkedIn. For the former, a recruiter found me and reached out, and for the latter, I applied. What’s interesting about my applying to Stride is that I didn’t know I was.

They have a job board, but I didn’t find that. Rather, one night my guild leader on Guild Wars 2 was talking about his new job in edtech, and I thought, “Hey, I have backgrounds in both education and technology… why have I never looked for a job in edtech?” So I went to LinkedIn and searched for “edtech.” Then, I filtered for Easy Apply and remote, read a few job adverts that looked interesting, and clicked the button for one of them.

A week or so later, a recruiter called me and asked about my application. She said it was for Stride, which I had never heard of and wasn’t listed in the advert. I think this is interesting: as near as I can tell, she’s a contracted recruiter for Stride, and she takes the adverts from their job board, then posts them to LinkedIn with Easy Apply enabled. She reads through all of a candidate’s information (in my case, it’s not just my jobs but also my projects, volunteering, etc.), and then refers the best candidates to the hiring manager.

In retrospect, I am both incredibly grateful and incredibly horrified by this. I am so excited to join Stride, and the realization that I would have missed out on this job if not for the recruiter and her using Easy Apply is nearly heartbreaking.

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Leaving Adaptavist

Back in July of 2014, a recruiter messaged me on LinkedIn and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for a position working with Atlassian software. I normally rejected such messages, but I decided to accept the call.

It took 20 minutes for her to mention that the company recruiting me was Adaptavist. I was absolutely floored. I had been working with Atlassian software for 7 years at that point, and Adaptavist was a big deal in the space. I had been looking at some of their plugins for a while and I admired them as a company, so I was shocked that they wanted to recruit me.

2 months and 6 interviews later, they offered me a job and I joined in October 2014. I actually started working with my first consultancy client in September, covertly taking calls from my office at the university because that client was so desperate to get me in. For the first time in a long time, I was doing interesting and challenging work that I enjoyed and that was valued by my customers and colleagues. And I was doing it within the boundaries of 40 hours a week and didn’t have to work nights or weekends.

When I attended my first Atlassian Summit in 2015, Adaptavist was asked to stand up during the partner day keynote, and we were recognized while everyone applauded. I felt like a friggin’ rock star. I had arrived, and I hoped never to leave.

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Headhunters annoy me

I got a call from a company here in Springfield a few weeks ago offering me a job. Well, not exactly offering a job, but they really, really wanted to interview me. Like, over the phone, right that second. This wasn’t a job I applied for, and what’s more, it’s not even a job in my field. It was for selling insurance.

I told the woman several weeks ago, who was pretty nice, that I probably wasn’t interested. She asked if I knew anyone who might be and I said no. She asked again if I was interested… no, I replied. I may get [very] frustrated with my job, but I enjoy it pretty well, and when push comes to shove, I get paid really well for this area with pretty good benefits. I won’t say I wouldn’t be interested in working elsewhere, but they’d have to pay me at least $10k/year more than I’m making now with twice the vacation time to get me away from Missouri State University. Also, I’d have to enjoy the work. Sales does not meet those criterion.

After finally getting off the phone with her, I figured I was done. Until my phone rang again a few minutes ago.

This is so-and-so, you spoke with my assistant several weeks ago about a job, and I wanted to call back and talk with you a bit more about it. You see, this other guy you work with referred you, and he’s a close personal friend of mine, and he said you’re pretty sharp so we’d really like to bring you on board. Could we meet some time next week to talk about it?

No. Remember when I said that? Oh yeah, you do, because you admitted it, but I guess you don’t care.

The guy sounded desperate and nervous. I had a picture in my head of someone unwilling to make eye contact who was sweating and tugging at his collar. He really wanted to meet next week to talk about a job, and I told him I really didn’t think I’d be interested. It also bugged me that he wouldn’t say exactly what they did or what company he worked for. I’d need to know the job, company, its reliability (will this company be around for a while?), and the pay/benefits before considering meeting with them.

He gave me a little bit of that information, but when all was said and done, I still told him no. I don’t have time to meet anytime before next March, and again, the job didn’t fit my criterion. But he refused to get off the line and just kept asking questions. Are you sure? Really sure?  Can I call you in six months to make sure you’re still sure? Do you know anyone else who might be interested? Really? Are you sure you don’t?

I suspect the guy who gave him my name probably did it out of desperation to get off the phone. Instead, I just hung up.

I wouldn’t mind being called for a legitimate job offer in my field, where they had heard of me from someone and had an interesting offer. I’ve actually had a few of those, and this isn’t the first time someone has called me to offer me a job. But it’s usually not a job I’m interested in, and what’s worse, they refuse to accept, “No.”

Let’s say you know of a job you’d like to recommend me for–I’ve got some advice. Talk to me about it. If I’m interested, then you can give my name out. Otherwise, please stop siccing these rabid job hounds on me. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

PS I am glad that people try to throw jobs at me on a regular basis, even with the economy as it is. That’s pretty cool. Guess I’m doing something right.

If only the people throwing the jobs weren’t so damned annoying.

Why Twitter Getting You A Job Isn’t Awesome

I can’t type much without my left shoulder hurting tremendously, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Twitter isn’t a miracle cure. It is a one-to-many messaging service that allows you to cheaply and easily connect with people. For those who invest in its use, it reduces barriers of entry in forming relationships or communicating, but it isn’t a golden egg or magic pill. If you take poor skills/knowledge/execution and introduce Twitter to the mix, you’re not going to suddenly get a great outcome.

I keep seeing news stories about people who got jobs through Twitter, and I see exponentially more people trying to get jobs (or start businesses, or relabel themselves as “marketing consultants”) through Twitter, but there’s something that the news coverage and mass hopefuls seem to be missing. Twitter is just a tool, and there’s nothing magic about it.

Connecting with a potential boss through Twitter to let him know about you is no different than calling, showing up at the office, turning in cover letter and resume over and over until you finally get the job. It is another avenue for communication and it certainly makes it easier, but just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean there will be a positive outcome.

If someone got a job through Twitter, it’s because they deserved the job, not because Twitter is fantabulous. Rather, it’s akin to cold calling, which is something a lot of people seeking work don’t seem to do anymore. They don’t work to find a job, instead passively putting out resumes and hoping someone will pick them up. Out-of-workers will post on, reply to ads, and hope for the best, whereas the people using Twitter tend to be more forward. They actively contact executives and say, “Hey, I need a job!”

Twitter makes cold calling less intimidating by providing the foolishly false sense of anonymity and comfort that only the Internet or a dark room can provide. But if someone looking for a job were to start actively calling around, hammering at people, and more aggressively pursuing work (even though vacancies weren’t available at the time), they’d get a job more quickly. Twitter establishes that communication line, but it doesn’t do any good if you’ve got nothing to say.

The news hype of, “Sally Sue got a job by posting on Twitter!” is stupid. There’s no story there, other than that they used a suddenly popular tool to connect with an employer. The problem is that these stories make other people think, “Oh! If I use Twitter, I’ll get a job too!”

If you’re qualified and ambitious you’ll get a job, because when you get those two qualities together, you have a person who is willing to go out and push buttons to get results. They know they can do the job, they know they deserve the job, and so they’ll find a way to get it. Qualifications don’t come from being on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t get you a job.

It’s all about qualifications and connections. There’s nothing new or awesome about that–that’s just the way things work, and have for millennia.

On Adventure and Job Security

He had spent years in search of boredom, but had never achieved it. Just when he thought he had it in his grasp his life would suddenly become full of near-terminal interest. The thought that someone could voluntarily give up the prospect of being bored for fifty years made him feel quite weak. With fifty years ahead of him, he thought, he could elevate tedium to the status of an art form. There would be no end to the things he wouldn’t do.

– On Rincewind from Sourcery

“Matt, would you walk me to my next class?” Erin asked me breathlessly, her eyes wide with fear behind her slightly oval-shaped glasses. We had sat next to each other most of my freshman year of high school in geometry, but hadn’t begun speaking to each other until relatively recently. To be honest, I hadn’t even noticed her until last week.

Despite having been in close proximity to this girl for over a semester and a half, she always avoided notice by wearing big flannel shirts, keeping her hair over her face, and never saying a word. But when she walked into the dance the previous Friday night, it was like beholding an angel. I swear she shone with a pure white light, and her laughter swept me from my feet. She was enchanting, and when she told me that we had a class together, I was flabbergasted.

Today she was hiding again, though. Boots instead of high heels and flannel rather than lace, the only distinguishing mark about her the fear that was plain on her face. Of course, I agreed to walk her, and gently cajoled the story from her as we crossed the campus.

A band of pagans (not true satan worshippers, nor actually powerful witches) had forced her to a shrine they had built with the intent of harming her. Whether it would have come to rape or murder is hard to say, but Erin was terrified (she had escaped by kicking one in the groin and bull rushing past the one with the knife), and being the gallant witch I was, I vowed to protect her. For the next several days, I ditched out of classes early so I could walk her from place to place, and cast guardian wards wherever and whenever I could to keep her from harm.

I served as Erin’s bodyguard for only a week before she disappeared. Finally tracking her to Texas, I learned that she had fled the state out of fear, but was thankful for my help. Helluva reward.


Over the last couple of days, I have had a somewhat sobering and comforting realization. Despite my frustration at being unable to write due to the muddled nature of my mind on pain medication and the constant throbbing of my jaw, I have found myself uniquely blessed. It has occurred to me how truly wonderful it is to have a real job.

Not that writing isn’t a real job, for those who make an income from it, but in this moment, I’m kind of glad it isn’t my real job. I have a secure position at a major university which provides me with sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits, and a steady paycheck based on the work, services, and knowledge I provide.

Writing is, to my mind, kind of like adventuring. You put yourself out there, go out on a limb, and pour yourself into something. You do it out of love and excitement and perhaps a certain amount of naivete. Sometimes this pans out and you make a paycheck here and there, but it’s not steady or secure.

Being unable to write for the last few days, I’ve felt a bit like a failure. I haven’t been producing, and subsequently my self-worth has faltered. But now it occurs to me that, at least at this stage in my life, that’s OK. My job isn’t writing; writing is a hobby I enjoy, but it’s not what pays for our house or our food. I have no obligation to a muse or a mission, I’m just (supposedly) doing this for fun.


I met a lot of people when I started college who wanted to go on a big adventure. They wanted to get out and see the world, to “start their life,” and to see what it all had to offer. I thought they were fools.

Adventure always found me whether I wanted it to or not, and it was never truly pleasant. Rather, I sought boredom, because boredom meant nobody was trying to kill me or mine.

I didn’t find boredom until I became Christian, and even then, not until after my first year or so of college. Once I placed myself under Jesus’s banner, I found that I no longer had to fight everything on my own. God takes care of me.

This was kind of a depressing realization at first. Part of me still thirsts for adventure, for the thrill of cheating death, for striding where so few go and daring everything for the next great leap. There was no point in keeping myself in good physical shape anymore, in pushing myself in certain academic pursuits, or in preparing for the great battles. There were no more great battles, and there was no more adventure of the sort I knew.

But there is certainly joy, and the last few days has highlighted that most dramatically. April has been truly wonderful, taking care of everything for me with love and gentleness. She has done the dishes and cleaned, cooked for me, catered to my every need, and somehow not resented my listless and constant napping.

All-in-all, I’m fine to be rid of the adventures of my youth. I could fill a book someday with them, and I probably will, but I’m not anxious to repeat them. I’d rather have this comfortable bed and our kittens, my beautiful wife and our home, and a secure job where I am valued and sheltered in the warm bosom of the university’s bureaucracy. I know from experience that there’s simply no end to the things I wouldn’t do.