Today marks my 12th anniversary working for Mozilla. I started on December 3, 2007, as a contractor, and moved to a full employment 13 months later, in January 2009. So in January this year, I was employed there 10 years.
I wrote about my work anniversary once before. Some things have changed since then, some have not. I am still working on Firefox accessibility, doing, unfortunately, less blogging than I used to (current series excepted), and am doing more engineering and less evangelism in general.
To many, especially in Silicon Valley, it is strange, yes even bewildering, for someone to stay in one employment relationship for that long. However, if you look at people with disabilities, the number of long term employments is generally higher than with the rest of the population working in the same field. The answer is quite simple: Regardless of the U.S., Canada or Europe, finding employment as a person with a disability is much harder than if you’re not disabled. As a consequence, we tend to hang on to our jobs much longer, do less job hopping.
And if you then come into the specialized field of accessibility work, that job hopping grows even more thin. Talent is not so easy to come by, but much of the work isn’t remote-friendly. That’s a real problem. With the burden of changing jobs would then often come the burden of learning a whole new environment. City, shopping, social places, public transport, you name it.
Oh yes, there were offers throughout the years, but all of these offers required that I move to California. And for several reasons, that is not an option. One is health care. My wife has some chronic illnesses that no U.S. health care organization would put her under insurance. The German health care system, although cursed on by locals often, is still one of the best in Europe, maybe even the world. If it weren’t for that, we’d have much bigger problems dealing with those chronic illnesses. And another is all the burden that would come with moving to a different country. I am a very settled person, who doesn’t like to change his environment much if at all possible. Hamburg has one of the better public transport systems in Germany. I would lose a lot of life quality if I moved to a city that has much less of that freedom.
Another interesting fact, I worked at the previous employer, student contractor work included, for over eleven years before moving to Mozilla. Both companies are U.S.-based, but their subsidiaries, or in the first case originally a German company dealing with them before being bought, employ me on German law employment terms. Many Germany-based companies usually have a much harder time employing people with disabilities. In my case, that is complicated by the fact that I don’t have a computer science degree. I studied computer sciences, but bailed out before the final exams because of some hurdles I did not overcome. The reasons for that are rooted in a few years of bad teaching during middle school, especially in mathematics. That could never be recovered later.
So, as things currently stand, I’ll grow even more old guard than I already am. 😉 But one thing is promised: I won’t grow a beard over this. Beards don’t suit me. 😉 So who knows how many years the next anniversary post will mention. 😉