Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things I'll Miss

There are several things I'll miss about my current job:

  • My co-workers, many of whom have become dear friends. I have been blessed to work with some amazingly brilliant people.

  • The security of my job. The chances of my current company going under, even in this crummy economy, are about as slim as they get. At my new job, I think it's entirely possible that I'll show up to work one day and the front door will be locked and all of the desks and computers will have been hauled away by some repo company. This scares the crap out of me.
  • The parking lot. I know this seems REALLY weird, but my current company does a really nice job with their landscaping. When I walk out to my car at the end of the day, I'm greeted by mature trees and fresh cut grass. It almost always smells nice. Often times there's a large V of geese or a solitary hawk flying over head. And, on most nights, I run into a familiar face on my way out and we exchange pleasantries, each wishing the other safe drive home or a nice weekend. It's a really nice way to end the day.
  • The tampons. Also weird, I know, but my company provides FREE TAMPONS in all of the bathrooms. It's really nice to know that I never have to remember to bring my own. (Note: if free feminine products ever make it into YOUR list of the things you'll miss most about your job... it's time to find a new job.)
  • The company-matched 401K. My new company promises to give me zillions of stock options, but they don't have a 401K plan set up. Booo. Even when the market is crummy, and my 401K bleeds like it's had a limb cut off, I still like having it. I realize it's a long term investment and ups and downs are to be expected. Over the long term, it's VERY likely that I'll make slow and (mostly) steady growth. Plus, company-match = FREE MONEY! (If anyone out there isn't taking advantage of a company-matched 401K plan remind me to slap you silly the next time I see you.) With stock options... well, let's just say the odds are much scarier. The potentially very big upside comes with a potentially very big downside.
  • Telling people what I do and then having them ask, all starry-eyed, if I'm a rocket scientist. (I'm not, by the way, but I do work in the aerospace industry, which apparently means I'm a rocket scientist in countless people's eyes. Psssssst - I'll let you all in on a little secret: Putting functional things into space requires a lot more than just a rocket.)

Anyway, it's nice. It's safe. It's easy. And it has some decent curb appeal.

There are, however, things I won't miss:

  • The commute. Driving 86 miles a day, in bumper to bumper traffic, will not be missed. Even if it does afford me 2 - 3 hours of prime NPR listening time (I LUVS me some Kai Ryssdal on the drive home!), I simply cannot wait to not have spend so much of my life in my car. Not to mention the sheer (ridiculous) volume of gas I go through (Approx. 860 gallons per year JUST driving to and from work!!) It makes me ill to consider both my impact on the planet and my wallet. Yuck.
  • My cubicle. When I first started, my cubicle was like my own little office. I loved it. I set it up just so, with all my little pictures and trinkets in their place, and my drawers stocked with fresh office supplies. My books on their shelves and my papers filed neatly away. But it didn't last. Over the years they moved us into smaller and smaller cubicles. They took away our book shelves. Encouraged us not to display so many trinkets. Papers mounted and I lost track of what should be filed and what should be thrown away. I stopped unpacking my boxes in between moves, stopped painstakingly routing all my cords after each computer upgrade. My cube is now a sad, cluttered, dingy little space. I just sort of stopped caring about it. It is an uninspiring atmosphere in which to work at best. I can't wait to work someplace where I'll have windows instead of padded walls.
  • The bureaucracy. In my opinion , we have far too many people doing far too little actual work at this company. Everyday, it seems, we're tossed new hoops to jump through, new forms to fill out, a new online system (guaranteed to improved productivity!) to weigh us down. It's as if the people writing the rules and the people forced to follow them live on two entirely different planets. I see the wheels of progress grind schreechingly to a halt over and over again as employees are saddled with ever more ridiculous rules and regulations that do little more than break their spirits and cost the company money. It's enough to make me scream on a regular basis. (On the upside, it does make Dilbert a whole lot funnier... b/c I TOTALLY relate to almost every single strip.)
  • The speed. Or shall I say, the lack there of. Do you have ANY idea how long it takes a giant, bureaucracy laden corporation to put something into space? It takes roughly forever. (Give or take a decade.) I have been working on the same design project for 6 years now. SIX YEARS to come up with a design, refine it, get it approved, build it, test it, document the results, and deliver it. It will be about 6-million more years before they integrate it onto the satellite and test it again. And then another 3 eternities before they finally launch the thing into space. Do you have any idea how boring it is to stare at the same project for 6 years? And how sucky it is to know that by the time the thing ACTUALLY gets used it will be so out of date that people will laugh at it? At my new company, things get designed and built in about 6 months.
  • Feeling like a tiny tiny cog in a giant GIANT machine. On the one hand, it's easy to blend in, to not have to work that hard, to "coast", if you will. If you and 100,000 other people are pushing the same giant block forward, does it REALLY matter if you push with all your might or if you just sort of go through the motions? Not really. The block slowly moves forward, pretty much with or without you. On the other hand, it's bit depressing, don't you think? I don't feel like I can have much impact here. No matter how hard I work, my salary probably won't change much (sure, I might get a 2.6% raise instead of a 2.4% raise - woo-hoo!), my department probably won't win any new business, my company as a whole probably won't be any more profitable, and I probably won't change the world. Maybe it's a blessing to not have the fate of your company (and the world!?) resting on your shoulders - but, at least once in my life, I'd like to know what it feels like to at least have the potential to make a real impact.