I should start this by saying that I am not unhappy with my life. I have a lot of things going for me and I have been extraordinarily lucky. That said, I have felt unfulfilled for the past few years. My wife and I have talked about it quite a bit, and I think it comes from not having enough challenge.
During the boom, I worked for a startup company and wrote some really cool software with some great people. When that company went belly up, I took a consulting gig with a local electrical utility. I really liked a few of the people I worked with, but the software and management weren't a good fit for me. The environment was extremely conservative and mediocrity was encouraged. At the same time, I was going to school to get my MBA. I really enjoyed that and have learned quite a bit. Fast forward to last Christmas when I finished school and took a job working for Bank One. I had hoped I would be challenged there, but so far, I haven't really found my niche. I generally work as a generalist who can learn new things quickly. In a company as big as what is now JP Morgan, there isn't much need for generalists, since they have so many people they can specialize in everything. I haven't found out what my new position will be since the merger, but I hope it will fit me better. I don't want to sound like I'm knocking the company, since it is a great company with some brilliant people, it just isn't fitting me well right now.
Since I was relocated by the bank, I have to work for them for two years or pay back the compensation. Since I don't really want to pay back that money, I have decided to try to challenge myself outside of work. Several weeks ago, I submitted an application to DePaul to try to take a class a quarter. My goal is to re-take calculus. I took calc as an undergrad, but I didn't really learn it as well as I would like. I still don't know what I want to do long term, but I am considering trying to go back to school for either economics or computer vision. (I know, they aren't very similar, but they are both research oriented fields that involve math) In the mean time, I have also started volunteering on the Python project. I haven't done a lot yet, but I did research a bug report and get it closed. It was suggested that I look into reviewing some of the patches in the queue. I have started doing that as well and should have some comments on them by the beginning of next week. Since my wife spends the night at the hospital (She is a pediatric resident at Children's Memorial hospital), I have some time to hack on things like that.
I hope that working on python in this way will help me understand the language implementation. I have really enjoyed using python to perform Monte Carlo simulation and implement some ant based search algorithms. Once I understand it a little better, I may even try to write a book on python internals.
criswell: Send me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in positions with bank one. My department will likely be hiring quite a few people, although from looking at your resume I don't know how good a fit it would be.