Wednesday, October 15, 2008

End Year One of the Western Experience

Early on, I was asked by family to not make direct references to my employers, lest their HR/PR/Marketing Scanbots find this blog and give the company grounds for my termination. I still believe that these fears are unwarranted, but it's better to be safe than sorry, and besides, anyone who Googles "Mountain View WY" and "telephone company" can figure out who I work for. (At least one commenter figured it out with no other information than the Occupation, Industry, and Location listed in my Blogger profile.) So for this post, I'll refer to them as the Onion Phone Company. You all know who I really mean.

I walked through the doors to Onion Telephone on October 15th excited, nervous, and hopeful of my new employer. I've been told by the locals that this was a great company to work for, but one can never tell; they may just want to drag others down into their employee family of misery. thankfully, I learned that everyone was telling the truth, and that I think these are some of the greatest people to work for. Sure, they have at least a few dumb policies and procedures, but that's true of any company you'll work for, and certainly less than my previous employer.

Even people who don't like Onion Telephone Company and may or may not have a legitimate grievance against them, they'll say that the family that runs is are good, honest, friendly folk, and they do right by their people.

The first two months were difficult, not because of coworker conflict or corporate BS, but because I was a bit overwhelmed with tasks, most of which I was learning for the first time. 90% of what I do now, I learned on the fly in those first few months. All the way through January, I had awful visions of termination due to incompetence or an epic screw up, and returning to my hometown as a broken and beaten man. After over a year of twiddling my thumbs at my previous employer, I had to get used to having job duties of import, or any job duties at all.

By about February, I had begun to understand how things worked, including our vast database of customers, version control, how our systems worked, and how to fix those systems when they failed. I began to get into a work routine, and relax. I'd receive encouragement and commendations from my supervisors rather than discouragement and condemnations from them.

By the end of the year, I no longer worry about trying to look busy when my Supervisor or Director walk by, because usually, I am actually busy. I don't try to overcompensate to prove my worth, because I know that I add value to the company. They've told me this themselves. I no longer worry about first impressions, because I've already made them, and have done so with great success. Even the few people that are notoriously difficult to get along with, I have a good working relationship with. I guess in short, what I'm trying to say is "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

This April will be what I consider the final test my new job after having been there for 18 months. 18 months was about how long it took my attitude toward my previous position to slide down from "Shiny New Job! WEEEEEEE!!" to "I'm Satisfied" to "I hope I'm not here in 5 years" to "I'm just here for a paycheck". (The slide from "I'm just here for the paycheck" to "I MUST ESCAPE!" happened within the last four months of my previous employment.) Right now I'm still on "I'm Satisfied" level, with no visible end in sight to that.

We're about to undertake the daunting task of choosing and implementing the replacement of Onion's curent customer managment software. This is going to be a HUGE deal, especially when we're working in the shadow of the previously implementation project, which by all accounts was a Dark Time for the department. Me and the two other newest people on our team have been tasked with with creating a Data Warehouse for the company, which is going to be a new experience for all of us. The company is still hiring people left and right, including several openings in the IT department (If any of you want to work in IT while living it up mountain man fabulous, let me know). I'm not going anywhere for the forseeable future, and for once, that fact doesn't cause sadness.

And so ends Year One at Onion Telephone Company. Year two begins now.

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