Being the Definitive Collection of Works by Allison Holt


(Much like the author)

On Work

Posted in on May 14, 2010

I recently sought out suggestions on subjects I could write about that I don’t normally, and my friend Kate suggested I should write more about tiny slice-of-life sorts of things — which I think is a fine idea, and one I shall try to implement — but also noted that I don’t much talk about my work. She’s right, and I find it funny that I don’t, given how much of my time is spent here and thinking about my job and my career. So Kate, thanks for the suggestion! Here, have a blog post…

What do I love about my work?

Honestly, I love the where I am more than the what I do right now. I’m feeling fairly seriously burnt out on the what — I’ve been doing essentially the same thing (though with increasing degrees of competence and difficulty) for the last decade, and I’d like to expand into something new. I have to fight though boredom (even when really busy) more often than I might like.

But I love working for Harmonix an awful damn lot. Not only does the corporate culture agree with me and not only do I really like the people, but the benefits are the best I’ve ever had. The people who work here are almost without exception phenomenally talented at what they do. And I have a platform for the work I do far, far beyond anything I’ve ever had before — the stuff I work on gets seen by anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of people per month (even if none of them know I had anything to do with what they’re looking at).

There’s a lot of pressure to be excellent working here. We have high standards — Harmonix doesn’t release crap, and our team holds itself to those same standards of quality that the game teams do, even if the company as a whole doesn’t always recognize it. Well, didn’t recognize it; I think the Webby win really raised our profile with everyone else here.

So I realize that most of what I just said is what I love about my job. What about my work, then? What do I actually love about what is I do?

I love problem-solving, figuring out how to do some pretty complex stuff with websites. I love building things, knowing that sites exist and people can do things with those sites because of work I have done. I love manipulating code — I’m completely anal when it comes to my code. I love learning new technologies and new techniques and new ways to do the things I already do better. I love reworking other people’s substandard code and making it work better and more efficiently (and making the code itself prettier). I even (sometimes) love fixing bugs, especially when doing so actually makes my site more usable.

I love that I work somewhere with enough name recognition to get nominated for — and ultimately win — a Webby.

What bugs me about my work?

As I sort of alluded to above, the actual day-to-day of what I do isn’t thrilling me right now. I’m burning out on building web applications, even somewhere as phenomenal as Harmonix. I don’t have a good answer for what to do instead; I’m not sure what else I could do which would be as interesting (when I’m not feeling quite so burnt out) and pay me as much. [1]

I don’t like feeling looked-down-on by the “real” (read: non-web) programmers. That’s a problem I’ve been facing for years and I don’t expect that’s going to be solved anytime soon (though I will say I believe it’s gotten better over the last few months, as the other web software developer and I have gotten more visibility).

I don’t like crunch, but that’s just part of the industry and we on the web team don’t usually have it as bad as the game teams do, so I can’t complain too much.

But really, those are some pretty minor negatives compared to the amount of love I have for my job right now. Nowhere’s going to be perfect, but Harmonix is as close as I’ve found yet.

[1] It’s not always about the pay, but at this stage in my life as the primary bread-winner for a family of five, it is about the pay, at least in large part.

Allison Holt spends her days wrestling with code and her nights wrestling with her amazing wife, three fantastic children and her big goofy rescue dog. You can find her at any of the social media links below, or you can email her at

All wrestling referred to in the previous paragraph is metaphorical.