Nobody Panic, I'm in Charge

So what have we learned this week. That sometimes great learning opportunities can also be great failing opportunities. Or how would Peter Parker's Uncle have put it, "Sometimes with great power comes great responsibility; and great failure. Yes, huge, crushing, failure."
I thought I'd be on the bench today, but it just goes to show you some people are gluttons for punishment. They're thinking, Well it didn't quite explode right? I mean, what's the harm in sending her back tomorrow. Can't get much worse.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your vote of confidence. I shall carry on.



So let's say I've spent the last n years (where 1 < n < 4) working on piping systems. There's not much to a pipe; you get the standard components and they are portrayed in a diagram with the pertinent length information. I haven't been involved with pipe manufacturing, pipe layout, pipe design or pipe systems. Just the diagrams.
This has been frustrating considering I'm working on my degree and am not directly handling anything that will better aid me once I finish my degree. The interns have, up to this point, been given more applicable experience than me.
So due to the whole kerfuffle I whined about a few posts ago, I was finally given the opportunity to work on incorporating a new piece of pipe systems' hardware (more work for free, as my Mom would say). But it's been a really interesting experience. I'm learning a lot. I haven't contributed a whole lot, but here and there I've been able to get involved on some of the documentation. So using some other pre-written docs I had compiled a written procedure for part of the system use.
Unbeknownst to me, our customer had had some concerns with this system and stopped by to make sure we were running it all up to their standards. So as I was standing and working on other procedure, one of our guys and two customer guys come buy to look over our documentation. And our guy pulls out the packet and goes through it explaining what all we have put together. And there it is, my procedure. And he explains what it is to them and goes through it a little with a convincing familiarity. Let me tell you, I was pleased as punch to see my little procedure there being shown off to these guys like it's something important, and not something I just crammed together. Later I heard the customer was pleased and everything went well. How nice to have contributed to something. Finally.


WoMAN with a Plan

I really like this post by Evil HR Lady, not only for the grammar/spelling mockery, but for the practical advise. She reminds everyone that you need to have a plan. And not just one plan, for your current job and current company, but a second plan; for your career in total. I'm going to add this to my to-do list. It's true I think a lot about long term goals and short term goals, but it would be more efficient to have something really written up. Perhaps Evil HR Lady will expound on the how-tos, or perhaps I need to search her archives and see if she's already gone over this.

Good Signs

The Wall Street Journal reports more people are tinkering. I'm not at all surprised as I've seen much of this myself and think it's a sensible backlash against the financial system's fail, the overabundance of MBAs, and the crashing economy. The question is how much of a positive effect this will have on the economy. I'd like to think a lot. I'd like to think this is the kind of innovation seen at crucial times in history. Though the students are pulling away from the software/internet based economy of the 1990s, that was an important time because of all the cutting edge development and the sudden ability of an individual to start their own company and create and market their own product. So though these students are pulling away from that model in their minds, they are actually benefiting from what lessons we learned about what people are capable of. So I'm excited to see this noted as a national trend. I think this can only mean good things, and better engineers.



I was so angry today I spent five minutes digging through my purse for my car keys before realizing they were IN MY HAND.


What Was I Thinking

So before I went into engineering, I was a political science major. Life was easy. I worked some breezy part time job that was completely unchallenging but had some friends there and was totally mothered by all the employees. Then I graduated and the harsh realities of the real world started to sink in. First, I couldn't seem to land a paying job in anything at all related to my degree. Political jobs were for the most part non-paying, and even then the few non-paying gigs I'd try to land while still in college never panned out. I was frustrated by the obvious practice of filling these jobs with cronies or family members, especially the paying jobs, leaving a whole bunch of students like me stranded.
Not to get off on a soap box, but there's way too many people my age who graduate every year with useless humanities degrees. We were told all we needed was a degree and our intelligence and determination. But I couldn't even get a job that would match the not-so-posh student pay I was making. So I landed an unrelated job at a good company elsewhere and started to make plans for a more challenging and more rewarding career.
Fast forward four or five years. Corporate America has sucked more life out of me than I knew I had. The bags under my eyes have their own bags. I get called "m'am" more and more. I'm not bitter about the choices I've made since, I think I've done the best I can with what I have. But I didn't foresee how this technical, white collar institution would be so much like my former field of study. The politicking. The cliques. The gossip. The undermining. I certainly expected plenty of this, but what I didn't expect was how often it gobbles up the technical or even profit-making goals. I knew I was going to have to "play the game" to succeed. And I'm glad I didn't come in with any naive expectations since I'd already had most of those destroyed after the fallout of my first degree. But it wears on me. Every time I think I'm getting away from it, every time I've cleared a little space in "technical experience" land an army of shmoozers and corporate yahoos tries to invade. I keep hoping that at the "next level" I'm going to be able to settle in somewhere. Build up some defenses on a small hilltop and enjoy a few years of relative security. But maybe I'm fooling myself. It's not that I'm averse to playing the game, I could probably get good at it if I really tried. I just didn't think that's what I'd be doing right now, so early in my career. So I'll keep trying to clear that space and keep trying to build my fort and hope that it's not all in vain. Maybe this next year is my year.


Fire Hose

I have a tendency to talk over people. In an annoying way. When they are trying to explain something to me I will just interrupt them and start talking right over them. Sometimes I feel like one of those hose attachments. Either I'm completely off, or on at full pressure. Either I'm sitting in a meeting unable to say anything or offer anything, or I'm talking over everyone. Either I'm unable to make small talk or I'm just interrupting someone trying to have an actual conversation with me. I can't seem to find the happy medium.