On The Not-So-New Job

I recently got some e-mails from my former Sky co-workers. Most of them, when they talked about their new jobs, made a point of mentioning that their new “work family” is nothing like the one they left behind. And that made me think about how, at my new job, I’m actually starting to feel like I belong.

I’ve spent over seven months in my “new” job, and I’m finally becoming a contributing member of the team. When I work on a project, I find myself asking more intelligent questions when I get stuck: instead of “How do I do this,” it’s more like, “I tried X, Y and Z thing, and I don’t understand why it’s still not giving me what I expected.” I’m also much more comfortable just coming right out and saying, “I don’t know enough to know what questions to ask; I just know it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing.” Plus, it makes me feel better about myself when the person I ask doesn’t have an immediate answer, and has to do a little research — makes me feel like I didn’t miss something blatantly obvious.

One big thing that’s made a difference is a slight change in management. The most senior member of the team was promoted to a managerial role, while our “real” supervisor’s role was redefined as more planning and overall development of the data warehouse. So, our new manager actually got managerial training, and part of her job now is to touch base with each of us regularly, which makes my life a lot easier. Before, I was sitting isolated in my cube, physically removed from the rest of the team, feeling extremely awkward whenever I got confused (which was often) and decided to ask a question (which was not as often as it should have been). Now, I have half an hour every week carved out to talk to my manager about any questions I might have, either technically or overall. She also tries to make herself more available in general; before, she was constantly tied down with projects, and I felt guilty asking her questions, no matter how much she asserted that it was fine to interrupt her.

But more management changes are in the works. My “real” supervisor, the one who first interviewed me and who gave me the call that I got the job, has given his notice. He’s taking a position at another local company, where he’ll have more room for advancement, and I can appreciate the need for that. I certainly don’t begrudge him his career move; I’ve heard it said that people these days will change jobs an average of every five years, so he’s about due. His absence is going to make things interesting, though, as we might not have a replacement for several months, and my new manager will likely be taking over many of his roles… thus making her much less available again.

Apart from playing Musical Supervisors, I’ve also started feeling much more comfortable with my co-workers. I’m finally realizing that, hey, dumbass, you work in IT, where all the other geeks work. You will get along fine if you’ll just TALK to these people. I’ve been working with more of them more closely, getting up-close and personal with people from QA and with the DBAs and with the BSGs and all the other alphabet soup who make up the long chain of people involved with an IS project. And these people are cool. They hack their iPods and run network cable through their houses and get off on having offsite backups of their personal files and photos. I can really talk to these people — I don’t have to worry about them being overly judgemental, for the most part. I’m starting to get a feel for who’s on my wavelength and who’s just another stuffed shirt.

We had an ice cream social at work this afternoon, and that was some invaluable time spent. I got to know a couple of DBAs and QA folks a bit better, and learned a little bit about our unique brand of office politics. (No worries on the diet front, either — they had sugar-free, fat-free ice cream, supposedly, although it tasted too good to be both.)

So, about my job? It’s going well. Better than it was. Three or four months ago, I was much less satisfied with my progress and my interaction with the team than I am now. Now, I’m feeling like I really am that malleable employee whom my boss wanted to mold into a skilled data warehouse engineer. I’m at least fitting into my groove better than before.