Posts Tagged ‘new job’

A Thousand Times September

8 December 2011

Dear J-

The count is down to two days now, including today. You know how you know something will happen eventually, but never imagine that it’ll be so soon? There’s still a lot to be done, but I now have boxes and a will to live, so I imagine that things will wind down today quite a bit. It’s hard for me knowing that I’m leaving behind people I like working with and respect but I’d always suspected I’d be gone before too long. It has been a long time in the making, as soon as I’d gotten word that they were looking for a thermal performance engineer eighteen months ago and I started thinking about life beyond what I do now. Which in two days I’ll accurately be able to describe as what I did then.

I was sitting in class on Tuesday afternoon and all of a sudden that same feeling came over me: a delicious feeling of being slightly out of control and out of my depth, a thrill of adrenaline that left me weak and drained yet excited and inquisitive all at once. This is my new life job. I have a lot to learn and much to be humble about and I’m excited to get started on it. I used to get that thrill multiple times a year when I was getting a new class schedule: that September feeling of going back to school and embarking on a new path through classes and classmates, crisp air and fall colors telling me it’s time for a change. Now that the weather has turned colder in San Diego (I refuse to call it cold out there) I smell woodsmoke all the time and it brings me back to waching chimneys trace lazy curls upwards in Cheney.

I can’t get caught looking too far forward or feeling so complacent that nothing gets done these two weeks even though I suspect that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I catch enough flak at work for not being around enough (well, at least in my head I do give myself that kind of flak) and this week has been punctuated by overeating at lunch and sleepy afternoons. It has been the most pleasant work week since I told my boss that I’d gone on an interview and his genial smile froze a bit at the edges wondering if I’d made the right decision or not. At this point being able to conjure up that same September feeling cemented it: yes. Yes. A thousand times yes, absolutely correct.

Mike

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Foggy Crystal

4 August 2011

Dear J-

How much do you let one side of your life — let’s say work — spill into all your other buckets? I suppose the answer lies in how you define yourself, whether through career or achievements at home (“Went Outdoors”, “Washed Dishes” — so many opportunities to be a hero) or some other hobbyist measure. It’s too easy to conflate work with self: after all if they’re paying you to do that then of course you’re going to value it. The longer you spend dwelling on it, though, the more likely you are to mistake that for all you’re worth. Stay sane and make sure you have something else to do outside of work. The classic example that’s been handed down to me lately is the overworked aerospace engineer whose life expectancy shrinks to months upon retiring: if there’s nothing to do, there’s nothing to live for.

Beware of people who would take advantage of your good nature for personal benefit. If you are a doormat like me who gets along to get along you’ll find yourself signing your life away with a smile and a nod because that’s what you said you’ll do and no bones about it, didn’t you know what you were doing? There’s a cartoon from xkcd that discusses responsibility and the feeling of maturity that we all fake at some point or another. Well, enough with that. I would leave if I can on good terms, but that’s icing on the cake that has its own delicious filling (feeling) of being able to leave and I’m old enough that cake isn’t going to be the right thing all the time anyway.

I’m less worried about whre I’m going than I am about those I’m leaving and I think that’s backwards. This is the longest time I’ve spent at any one desk ever — five years to get comfortable in the corner and back and forth from warehouse to desk and knowing everyone in the building. Five years is enough. Five years is plenty. I look forward to going in the same mix of dread and wonder that accompanied the changing of classes and class schedules: find a new routine and route, people you run across and sit next to, choose your own adventure. It may be foggy now but that’s going to clear before long.

Mike

Day 18: Now and Then

14 April 2010

Dear J-

Today we compressed eight years of my life into three hours: first a presentation from people I work with every day, and then one by the folks I used to work with. If they drag people from Worldcom in tomorrow I’m changing the locks; someone’s stalking me. The timing was poor — right after lunch is the sleepiest time for everyone in class — but I enjoyed being able to spend time with folks I hadn’t seen (or in some cases thought about) for at least four weeks. I’m always asking if I have enough motivation to return and wreak change; I think I do, I think I am. The topics are important, but unfortunately don’t necessarily affect everyone every day. Procurement sinks back into being a black box for the rest of the plant.

I guess I’m just sort of champing at the bit at this point; the end is in sight, after nearly a month in class, and I’ll have a chance to find out just how stubborn I can be in the face of resistance. The nice part is that I’m coming back with a bag full of tools (shiny and new, but dull and untested, so bear with me as I work through these issues) and I’m confident I can make it happen. Drive that bus over here, wouldja? We’re out to change attitudes, which is something we can’t do alone; seeing folks I know brings that home to me: trust and respect, that’s where we have to start and finish.

I know that I’ve said at some point that I now more fully appreciate the supervisor role and its challenges; at my first job in Worldcom, I made supervisor after eighteen months, as that was more in the nature of a very-competent person — give them the tough jobs that no one else understands, and they’ll get it done. Learning how to do things, that isn’t the challenging part of a career; with enough knowledge even I can get better at doing things — it’s the art of leading people that demands practice. Are you ready?

Mike