"How I Went from" is an ongoing blog series that highlights our employees' different journeys to InterWorks. The results are pretty diverse, but each story is special in its own right.

I grew up in Midwest City, Oklahoma. I was a military kid and got involved with computers and video games at a young age. I was grounded at 9 for swapping out my first modem while my dad was TDY. It was worth it and all its 14.4 kbps glory. I started building and repairing computers around 16.

Given the military background, I started working towards Security training and other government pre-requisites to work for Tinker AFB. I was hired on in 2005. That quickly developed into server work, domain administration, network configuration and line running. I loved that job, but I wanted to do more.

Tinker Air Force Base

Above: Tinker Air Force Base.

From there, I went to DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) in 2008. I met some great people and got my first taste of data work. From there, I started getting involved in the local user groups, helped set up the first SQL Saturday here in OKC and began to consume anything data-related I could find.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve now been to the PASS SQL Summit twice, I run the OKC SQL Saturday and I am the Sr. Vice President of the OKC SQL User Group. I speak on a national level for SQL Server and am always looking for that opportunity to make that an international title. I’m looking at you, London. I’ve moved on from the government work to working with HIPAA environments directly. I had a ton of fun all the way up to this point, but I kept hearing about another company from a good friend of mine. InterWorks was calling.

Gaming with one of my kids

Above: Outside of work, I enjoy gaming and spending quality time with my kids.

Time for a New Beginning! 

I've been working at InterWorks since October, and the only thing I can say to describe my new job is:

It's … weird. 

Now to be honest, I've worked for some good companies. I can say that I've been rather lucky. I've only had one job that I'd consider "bad," and that's mostly in comparison to the ones I've had after. InterWorks has a short and to-the-point mission statement. "Best Clients. Best Work. Best People." What makes this so "weird" is that, well, they mean it. 

Best People

My interviews started two phone calls and stop in at a nice coffee shop in Edmond. That proceeded to a half-day, four-part interview and lunch. This all happened over about a three-week window. It was the most rigorous interview I've ever been in. Our CEO, Behfar Jahanshahi, was even involved with my half-day interview. He went over culture, what they do, what I want to do and made sure I was a good fit for this culture overall. They want to add people to their family, not just hire warm bodies.

It's … weird.

Best Work

Last week, I spent two days going to an internal training summit that they set up for their whole company. Multiple people talked about what they've learned. They talked about what they did right and what they did wrong. They gave out ideas on how we could all be better. They praised others in their group, and no one acted like they were above anyone else. We also got some awesome burritos that Friday for breakfast.

We took two days to get in touch with people we don't get to see every day. We had coffee and hung out. We had real conversations about what we can do better.

It's ... weird.

Above: The Data Management/Integration team. I'm second from the left on the front row.

Best Clients

I'm still new here. I'm already being sent to more training on some cool tools and tech. I'm starting to get hands on doing the work I already love to do. I'm hearing stories about clients from huge companies to small mom-and-pop style companies.

Everyone talks about how we can help them do something better; how we can help them without just being concerned about the bottom line; who these people are, what they enjoy, getting to know who they are. It's almost like they're part of this family I've joined here at InterWorks.

It's ... weird? 

It's Not So Weird

What makes this all feel so strange is that most companies pay you to already have all the knowledge and to expand your skills on your own time. It makes sense. 

Instead, InterWorks gets someone with skills or base knowledge that seems to fit close to some idea. More importantly, they make sure you fit. We then train you in what you're interested in if it fits within our business. If it doesn't, we check if we might make sense of it and start doing that, too. The phrase, "Well, is it fun?" is just not what you expect to hear but how it works. It's not weird or bad. It's just different. It works.

When I explained what I do, what we do and how they treat people, it's almost like I'm bragging. I might be. It's weird because you matter here as more than just another IT person or part of the head count, but it's a good weird. This post went from they to us or we. With just three weeks in at InterWorks, it’s hard not to feel like you're part of the family.

More from the Author

Bill Barnes

Data Engineer

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