My Career

Jul 11, 2023
9 min read
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What have I accomplished during my professional career, what could have done better and where do we go from here?

What follows is a basic stream of thought about the jobs I've had, trimmed in an attempt to not fire any vollies directly at specific individuals. This is going to be updated, pruned, edited and refined over time. It is an evolving story, one I am still figuring out how to tell.

I need to find a way to talk about my experiences. To tell the whole story as much as possible.

I want to be extremely clear that moving on and achieving forgiveness for myself is my main objective. I cannot heal the pain I feel by hurting others.

If you do not like how you are reflected in the stories below, I would first ask you to reflect and ask yourself whether your concerns are ego driven.

Secondly if you really feel that it's unfair, I encourage you to contact me directly and correct the record. Unlike others I am comitted to transparency, honesty and the truth. Sunlight heals all, and this is the only way moving forward.

In the beginning

In 2004 / 2005 I was jetissoned from the education system into the real world. Ultimately I moved back home to NJ from RI where I was going to school.

It took me a few months of sitting around and getting bored, but eventually I found a job at a local kayak store and made myself useful.


After that I worked at a company in NYC after a good friend got me an interview. It was my first experience working for a startup company.

The startup was interesting, but there was zero room to spread my wings. Efforts to add efficiency and remove drudgery and toil from my workplace were actively thwarted. It wasn't the place for me. The commute killed me, not worth it but the allure of NYC was there.

Back to NJ

After the startup, I found myself still living in NJ but working in NJ was less painful. The tech wasn't as exciting, but at least there was somewhat interesting work. I built a custom interface to a messaging app for blackberries (remember those?). I built a really cool integration with the first ever API I interacted with, the Magic Logic CubeIQ API. Still to this day one of the most fun things I worked on. I was naievely excited when one of the bosses came and asked me to figure out how many cargo trucks it would take to fit all the inventory in the warehouse in it. Gee I wonder what they used that information for...

Unfortounately the local job was not a stable one, in a meeting where the CEO explained oncoming bankruptcy challenges he completely failed to assauge the crouds fear of "what happens if we don't get bought." At least he did not sway me. I was gone in a month, and everybody else got fired.


The next job was one of the best, working for a small weather company in NJ. I made some cool friends and geniuntely made the orginzation a better place through added features during my time there. Things fell apart when the person who was the barrier between me and management left.

Needless to say while I loved my time at that compnay, there were some unprofessional experiences towards the end that soured me. It was interesting to work with non technical nerds and see how technology can be ignored by incredibly intelligent people. Overall it was a great period of growth for me and I can honestly say there was really only one or two people who added a negative flavor to the punch bowl.

Back to the City

Escaping the weather company in NJ led me back to NYC. I thought getting a job at a big company would show me "how the big boys" did software, and boy was I wrong. I found how slow, thoughtless and callously mechanic "corporate" america can be. I had project managers BRAG about their lack of competence, as if this was somehow a shield for accountability from the shit thier bad decisions rained down on me. I had contractors and employees LITERALLY engage in screaming mactches over my cubicle. I had a co-worker leave food to rot in his desk (that shared my cube) for over a week. Eventually the smell was so overpowering I went through his drawers to deal with it myself. Our boss was non-existant, when he did show up he was out of touch and clueless. It was like being on a giant ship where nobody was at the wheel and somehow nothing ever really got solved or done.

Suffice to say I did not learn much at the big company, but it did springboard me into one of the most consequential jobs of my career.

Explosive career growth

The robot notes company. A farm of networked 2.5 axis pen plotters and an API attached to them was one of the most incredible and fantastical career experiences of my life. It truly was like working in Willy Wonkas factory, I saw some shit go down. It changed me as a person and even though parts of the experience caused lasting damage it was such an impactful experience that I would do it again without hesitation. Not everything that is good for you feels good. Sometimes you need to experience true pain to learn and grow. This might have been the best job I ever had.

Headed North

After the fugue dream of startup life ended, my wife and I landed in Vermont. I found out that my "jersey" attitude was not always welcome with the passive-agressive nature of the north. There were people native and flatlander that seemed interested in me, but there was always this wary guardedness. Something that told me I was an outsider without the words being spoken. In retrospect maybe I wasn't listening to my own internal messages too, the pressures of modern society to earn a living pushed me to do some things that professionally put me on a downward trajectory.

I had a stint at a local agency that did not go well, it again showed me the incredible blind spot to technology that otherwise capable folks can have. Everybody thinks they can just wave a wand and make it happen, they don't need to listen to the engineers. You are wrong. It matters when there are dead canaries on the floor of the coal mine. You do not shovel them into a bucket and go on with your day.

Network at your own peril

I learned a painful lesson about not listening to my gut at the next job. Networking is a great way to get jobs but if you are not listening to the people who offer you these jobs you can find yourself in difficult situations. I learned tough lessons about the lengths people will go to willfully ignore you, talk over you, and disrespect you. Folks who praised your technical expertise will cast it in the trash the moment it's not convienient for them. It felt like networking in the beginning but it turned out I was blindly allowing someone to set fire to the bridge I was standing on. Still not sure what happened.


After another extremely negative professional experience, I came to the conclusion that I was dealing with significant mental health challenges: Burount. Years of attempting to take on others failure as my own, in my people pleasing nature caused me to completely ignore the negative consequences others actions had on myself. It's not that I'm unwilling to be accountable, quite the opposite. I am completely intolerant of situations where I am held accountable but others are not. I am unwilling to sit quietly while someone else eats my lunch, takes credit for my idea, or sabatoges me behind closed doors with a smile on their face.


I am doing better now. I have a very, very boring job that I am very, very thankful for. I am spending time shooting, editing and enjoying the life and opportunities that my current situation afford. I am trying not to let the ghosts of my past dictate my future. It's still scary, I am still the traumatized rescue dog that pees on the floor when someone's phone rings at the adoption event. I still feel like am on the journey to a better place, but I am in a remarkably better place than I was a year ago. I quit drinking and it was one of the best choices of my life, it's forced me to re-evaluate the way I'd been living and some of those changes are absolutely permanent. No going back, the new life is too good to give up on.

The future

I still want to be technical. You are reading a post on a website that I created myself instead of sucummbing to the common sense of using a click and drag UI.

I would not get the control I wanted, and more importantly I would not get the satisfaction of knowing I could do it and actualizing on that. Having that agency taken away from me professionally has been one of the largest sources of trauma that I still haven't found an adquate salve for.

The only solution I can think of is to start from the ground up. I need to build things, the things I want, the way I want without having to fight people to justify my choices. This is the ONLY way I am willing to work, whether it is making pizza dough, selling kayaks or writiing software.

The future is bright but it depends on action and dilligence. I have one of those, and I am getting better at the other.

Mat with a Salmon

Mat Gilbert is a creative engineer living in Huntington, VT with his Wife and Cat. He goes fishing as much as possible, but enjoys technology and artwork when not on the water.




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