I so rarely write about my job that I actually did a double-take when I saw that my last entry in this category was while I was pregnant with Connor. I even went back to the old Movable Type installation (still in place for occasions such as this) to make sure something didn’t get missed in the port over to WordPress.
Nope. It really has been that long since I’ve weighed in about work.
Which is funny, since so many of my early entries (2002-2004) were centered around how unhappy I was in my bank gig. In those early days of blogging (early days for me, anyway), I didn’t think about searchability or future repercussions about complaining about one’s job online and naming names.
But I digress. I hadn’t intended to make this a meta-blog post about blogging about work.
I’ve been at my current Data Warehousing job for five years, six months. When I started, I knew zilch about Data Warehousing. My hiring manager told me that my job in the beginning was “to be a sponge.” I was hired to add that graphic design element to the team, to be the person who can make all the hard work on the back end look aesthetically pleasing and well-organized on the front end.
Over time, I was taught all about data warehouses. Operational data stores. Extraction, transformation, and loading. Replicated databases. Incremental loads. I learned about the dashboarding/reporting software we had at the time, and learned how to set up projects and filters and metrics and attributes and reports and dashboards.
After the manager who hired me left the company, somehow my path went astray. I was still to be a sponge, but I didn’t get the opportunity to build many dashboards. I did learn more about ETL and SQL and I got more comfortable with data and report building, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I got to do any dashboarding outside the initial one I built when I was first hired in. Since then, I’ve ramped up and found my niche.
Now, I’m informally considered the Lead UI Designer on our team (although if I had a new job title, I’d prefer to be a Front-End Developer — avoiding buzz words that might have a different meaning than intended). I’ve worked on my hiring manager’s initial vision of unifying all the DW reports under a single style and “brand,” and I’ve built a total of two dashboard suites (corporate and individual facility views with drill-through reports for each) in MicroStrategy and three in Microsoft Reporting Services, currently in the mockup and specification phase of a fourth, with a fifth on the horizon in Q3.
Not bad for a Visual Communication major who taught herself SQL at her bank job.
If I were to look at my (horribly outdated) resume, I would see that I’ve never in my entire job history — both during and after college — gone more than two and a half years without a promotion.
Granted, I came into the company arguably below entry level. I feel like I’ve stepped up my game, though, especially since I now have a skill set that no one else on the team has.
My last supervisor left the company around the time I left for maternity leave, and my current boss was in place about the time I came back three months later. I’d had one of those unwitnessed elevator conversations with my old boss, and I knew that his leaving meant that I’d have to plant the seeds of promotion with someone new. My post-maternity-leave review with the boss’s boss didn’t go well — I felt like I got sucker-punched with average (OK, “Successful”) scores across the board. My new boss didn’t know me from Adam (or Eve, as it were), so she couldn’t go to bat for me. Not yet.
I’ve since had one of my annual performance reviews with No-Longer-Really-New Boss, and I’ve gotten some good feedback. She rated me Exceptional in a couple of categories, which was a pleasant surprise. She also gave me some helpful goals and pointed out areas of improvement for me to focus on, including cultivating a sense of urgency (which translates to “Stop coming in late all the time and taking so much time off”) and developing both my leadership and troubleshooting skills.
I’ve been actively working on improving all those things, and on meeting my goals (which are mostly based around completing specific projects). Mainly, I’ve been working on what seems to me to be the elephant in the room: my morning tardiness.
Yes, I track my arrival time daily, even though I’m salary. I’ll have a chart in the 2013 Year In Review, but suffice to say that a.) I’ve improved considerably, but b.) it’s totally embarrassing to see how late I show up. It’s true, what one of my former supervisors said: people notice. (One of my co-workers ended up in the elevator with me one morning, and he checked his watch because he didn’t realize he was “THAT late.”)
My boss schedules a one-on-one with each of us on the team once a month to discuss project status and to give us an opportunity to discuss any work-related issues privately. I’ve had a to-do item in my Outlook Calendar ever since my last review, telling me to request a six-month mini-review at this month’s one-on-one.
So, I did.
I came armed with a list of ways I’d improved in each of the categories she gave me. I had statistics around how my tardiness has improved in 2013.
I didn’t reference them once.
She gave me positive feedback for the most part, with the only real negatives being my need to focus more on troubleshooting technical issues and my tendency to take too much time off. (I can only assume she’s referring to my long lunches and early departures for various appointments, since my personal and vacation time is mine to use.)
I didn’t bring up the word “promotion,” but she did. She knows I’ve been wanting one for years; it was the first thing I spoke with her about, one-on-one, after my post-maternity-leave annual review. I know my poker face needs a lot of work, because it was so hard to play it cool while she told me that, if I continue down this path, focusing on these areas of improvement, she would push for me to be promoted to Data Warehouse Engineer Level II at my annual review in November.
I appreciate “atta girl” pats on the back as much as the next engineer, don’t get me wrong, but a promotion would make me feel… validated. Like I stepped into a field I knew nothing about and made it my own. Like I met the challenge. Like I’ve finally realized JP’s initial vision of who I could become.
Six more months. Then we’ll see.