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Why did you leave your previous jobs?

In all but one case, it was external factors that caused my employment to end. I left my first permanent job simply because I wanted to go back to grad school full time, and try out serious accademia. (I had always been planning on getting a master's, after I had built up enough savings to do it comfortably, and my job at GE enabled me to do that.) Though I enjoyed accademia a great deal, I found it rather lacking in the ability to get real things out there doing things for real people... at least in any time-frame that I could feel anything about. So after a heck of a lot of work on a heavy-duty master's thesis, I went back to industry.

My second job, I absolutely loved. Great people, a stimulating cutting-edge software project... seven people in the company, and I was only average in talent, there. Unfortunately, though we had a rather spectacular technical team, our small start-up didn't have much in the way of sales expertise, and the company did not survive the economic woes of the turn of the millenium. We worked several additional months with little in the way of real compensation, but in the end we had to fold. (Very sad.)

Plug Power, however, was a bit of a different story. Much of the job was still very nifty (though there was less reason for creative software, and different kinds of design challenges -- it was more of a question of the best way to get something done, rather than how it could be done at all). I still love the company, what they stand for, and what they are trying to do, but my position there was simply not maintainable in the long term. It is worth noting that my page on agressive schedules was written before I took that job -- and that I said "2800 hour years will make me very unhappy" because it seemed pretty ludicrous at the time. Despite having read this, however, they still decided to put me in a position where I felt it necessary to work pretty darned close to 2800 hours in a year, and, well... I was right. It was rather bad. So I got the project complete and stable, gave them more than fair warning, and then quit to take a well-deserved break. (It was nice that they at least paid me pretty well for the effort, as it made that an easy thing to do... financially, at least.) Apparently I wasn't the only one -- of the software team that was with me on the project full time, only one person was still there, a year after I left. I prefer to work with the same people indefinitely, but take that as a warning: if you also chose to abuse my better nature, I'll regretfully do the same again.

Me, I want to find a place like DDC again, where people wanted to stay so badly that they'd work virtually for free. (Too bad working for free isn't maintainable, either!) Find me that kind of place, and I could stay forever.