Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Job Offer from Blackboard

Hah!!! Made you look, didn't I?

Okay, I lied. I don't have a job offer to go to work for Blackbeard on their pirate ship that is pillaging all of higher education. But for some strange reason (VERY strange, I'm sure), I spent part of my vacation time daydreaming about going to work for the evil empire. It was absolutely an exercise in self-reflection, self-awareness, and apparently self-loathing.

For reasons that I cannot explain, I asked myself the following question(s). "Self? How much would they have to pay you before you would be willing to take a job at Blackboard?"

As any reader of this blog knows, I LOATHE the business tactics of BlackCT. However, I have met some nice people who work there, and all kinds of people tell me that the company really isn't all that bad, and hey - soon enough they're going to own all of education lock, stock, and barrel - so if you can't beat them, why not join them? Right?

As far-fetched as even I think that this scenario is, it is not without precedent. Several years ago I was a store owner in one of those classic cases of where the big-box retailer was coming into town and pinching out many of the local small business owners. I had a newsletter that I wrote monthly and sent to customers who opted to receive it (snail mailed paper photocopies with real stamps on them - yes, it was a long time ago). In that newsletter I would occasionally (okay, often) take shots at my over-sized competitor who cared nothing about quality and provided lousy service and advice (still true today, on all counts, IMO). They advertised an opening for an upper-level manager in an area that I was eminently qualified to handle. In fact, I have little doubt that I was the best candidate in their applicant pool for that job. I actually convinced myself that they "needed me" in some goofball way, and that I would save them from themselves and rise through the ranks to become CEO or God or at least get a stock option or two out of the deal.

Sure enough, they invited me to the Twin Cities for an interview with the Vice President who would have been my boss if things had gone that direction. I have little doubt that I got the interview not because they were at all interested in hiring me, but because they were interested in having a conversation with the a-hole in Duluth who told everyone who would listen just how evil they were. Let's just say that it was an interesting conversation. Let's also just say that he had copies of every one of my newsletters in his little interview packet. Let's also just say that I didn't get the job offer and shortly after that I returned to academia and the rest is blah, blah, blah.

So, what's the point of all this drivel? The sad point for me is that during my vacation last week I came to the realization that I can be bought, and I've even established the price that it would take. At first I though that there is no job offer from Blackbeard that I would be willing to take. I almost laughed out loud at myself at that one. Of course I would accept some hideous amount of money to go over to the dark side. But would I accept something less than a hideous amount? That was where I really started to reflect deeply on how I feel about where I work, for whom I work, and how much money I make from my work.

So here's the answer. My breaking point appears to be at the level where my salary would increase by 75% over my current level. 75%??? How pathetic is that? I wanted to hold out for at least a 100% salary increase, but I started to realize that I'm just not nearly as scrupled as I would like to be. Scrupled is a word - trust me.

As sad as this makes me, I have come to the following realization. If Blackboard wanted to hire me to help them create a VLE for the future - one that breaks down the walled gardens, one that incorporates technologies that will actually help position students for success later in life, one that allows for new levels of collaboration among students and faculty alike, one that actually DESERVES the huge market share that they currently have - then yes, I can be bought. How freakin' sad is that?

BTW, I have no illusions that there is anything more than a 0% possibility of this fantasy coming true - and I wouldn't even want it to come true - but I did enjoy the exercise of determining where my boundaries are. Now, has anyone seen my scruples? They appear to be lost.

Flickr CC-By photo by zzzack

1 comment:

Britt Watwood said...

I would have held out for at least 77%!

Nice reflective post. I suspect we all have our prices...and our rationalizations that WE can make a difference...but then again, I used to work in Washington!