At Work

I haven’t mentioned my job recently, and that’s partly because it’s been going pretty swimmingly. I like my team, I like my boss, and I really like my actual duties. It’s as close to the perfect job as I could imagine.

The last couple weeks, we had something happen that, at first, shook my trust in the company. I was afraid that it would turn out that my company was less scrupulous than I thought. But, just as I was feeling really disappointed, my boss showed some real integrity and completely redeemed the situation (from my perspective). I was deeply impressed at the way my boss ultimately handled the whole situation.

I mention this because it made an impression on me. I talked with my boss about my concerns, and he listened and took action. This may be the first time I have ever had that happen at a job. Having my voice listened to and respected made a huge impact.

So, it remains true: I feel like I have landed at my perfect job. I’m thankful every day to have the opportunity to do it. Most of all,  I’m deeply grateful that we went out on a limb and decided for me to apply when I saw the job opening last fall. 

Now, if only I could get a desk away from where everyone who walks by can see my screens…

Work: Week 7

I just looked at the calendar and counted: I’ve been at my job for 7 weeks already. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess, because it feels like just yesterday we started this crazy adventure.

On the other hand, it’s been long enough that we’ve started finding the routine that works for all of us to do what needs doing while staying sane. Benji and I spend his first hour up together, and I make sure to get some of his prep stuff done so Ian doesn’t have to. While we’re hanging, Ian gets ready for his day. I leave the house at 7:15, and get home any time between 6:00 and 6:30, unless I have to stay late.

This unfortunate occurrence will happen more and more frequently over the next month, I expect, as we approach April 20, the next release date. I have several hard deadlines between now and then. My boss told me “We kind of tried to let you know in the interview that this job is really stressful.”

I’m not feeling stressed out yet. Maybe that’s ignorance, and I should start stressing, like when I did my first bike race and I really had no idea what was going on and whether I was safe or not. But I keep checking with my boss and coworker to make sure I’m doing the right things, and so far it seems like I’m on top of everything.

The way the job works is the developers make features based on things called User Stories. We, the writers, find out which User Stories will be going out at the next release. We research the stories, reading the technical specs and trying out the features in the test environment, so we have an idea of how the new feature works. Then we meet with the people in charge of each User Story (Project Managers, PMs) and interview them about their User Stories. Then we write Release Notes, which describe not only the mechanics of the new feature, but emphasize the “Why,” as my boss puts it. We have to really sell the feature, making it sounding exciting and worthwhile.

Release notes are my first deadline. This is a big deal, because it’s the first time my writing goes out to the senior management and all the PMs for review. I have to hand-deliver a hard copy of the release notes to the president of the company for him to read (!).

After I get release notes written, I go into the Help Center and edit or add pages to cover details of the new features. I have two weeks to do this from the time the release notes go out to the time the actual release happens. Many features don’t require a ton of new writing, but rather expanding or modifying existing content. Unfortunately a lot of changes to the look require new screenshots, which are difficult to find and take some time to replace. But some of the changes will require me to write entirely new pages, and that takes time, too.

As I mentioned, I’m not feeling stressed. So far I’ve certainly felt time pressure, and the need to focus and work diligently. As far as I can tell, I’ve not yet fallen behind, and if anything I’m a little ahead of where I need to be.

Unfortunately, I do have an entirely separate, unrelated project that’s quite big and going to take a substantial amount of time, and that’s going to come due right around the end of April, too. Time to engage in some serious time management.

I’m not sure how much blog writing I’ll do as we approach this release, and I don’t know what having a job writing will do as far as my desire to write recreationally. We’ll just have to see. Lately on my bus rides I’ve enjoyed reading Wonder Woman comics on Hoopla or library books on my phone Kindle app. But I’ve had this blog so long, it’s not going away. I’ll just update more or less. We shall simply see what the future holds. As always.

A Day in Elevators

To the 13th floor…
To the 13th Floor

Back down to the lobby, where I switched to an elevator up to the 40th floor…
To the Lobby from 13th Floor

To the 40th floor, where I had to switch elevators to keep going up…
To the 40th Floor

To the 75th floor…
To the 75th Floor

You have to take stairs to the 76th floor, where I spent much of the day.

Back down to the 40th floor…
From the 75th floor to the 40th Floor

Back down to the lobby…
From the 40th floor to the lobby

Back up to the 13th floor.
To the 13th Floor

I forgot to include the elevator trip from the parking garage to the lobby and then back down to the parking garage again.

Suffice it to say, I got a lot of elevator rides in yesterday.

SMEs

At work, they have people who are “Subject Matter Experts.” These people know everything there is to know about one of our products. Of course, nobody calls them Subject Matter Experts; they’re SMEs, which is then pronounced “smee.”

Evidently this is pretty standard in many fields, but all I can think of is this.

Dispatch from Day 5

Yesterday was more training, including staying late to see how they do a big update, punctuated with more meetings I mostly didn’t understand. So, par for the course. I did a couple of call-in corporate trainings for variety.

I have been realizing that one of the things about having been at a job for a long time is that you know where to find everything. At my old job, I knew the file system and all the software we used and the credentials for logging in. At this job, I can barely find my desk, let alone navigate a file system that probably isn’t even set up on my computer yet. The job-specific training of super, but difficult to relate to when my computer is literally an empty slate.

So much for training.

I left work late, as I mentioned, and then decided to take a different way home. The pervious times I biked, I rode to Fremont through downtown, and then along the trail from there. Previously I had mapped out a route that went down to I-90 and across the bridge, then up through Bellevue and Kirkland. Both routes came in at 21.7 miles (plus or minus 0.1 miles), so I figured I’d switch between them for variety.

I didn’t take into account that the Fremont route had a total of maybe 400 feet of climbing, of which the hill by my house comprised 300 feet, whereas the I-90 route had 1300 feet of climbing. Plus, it involved going through Bellevue, where drivers don’t like bikes, and involved many more stoplights and intersections. 
Overall, the I-90 way took 5-8 minutes longer than the Fremont way, and I worked way harder for that pace. So: perfect for when I need to start doing hill intervals. Otherwise I’ll likely skip it.

On the docket for today: more video training. Hooray!

Dispatch from Day 4

I was going to share some pictures of my work space and general work environment, but yesterday I read the employee handbook and learned that was explicitly banned. Sorry, folks.

I spent much of Wednesday do video training on various topics, with a break for some in-person lecture-style training for variety. The good thing about that is that I had some idea what was going on. The bad thing is that after spending the whole day with sometime talking at me, my brain felt overloaded. 

Most interesting and challenging was the training on performance measurement. At my old job, I just knew we reported TWR not IRR, and that TWR stands for time-weighted return while IRR stands for… Something else. 

Now I have actually practiced calculating those, I have a much better idea of the differences. This morning I woke up thinking, “I wonder if a flow chart would help clients understand the difference better.” Have to think about that some more, but I think in general the view is that we want to improve clients’ understanding of which to use when, and that right now it’s confusing. I may try sketching out a rough idea anyway.

Today is shaping up to contain lots more training, some in person, some live webinars, some pre-recorded, interspersed with a few meetings about things I don’t understand. But I remain confident that I will pick this stuff up eventually, and in a few months things will make do much more sense.

So far I continue to be excited to go learn new stuff. Just have to get my brain to assimilate it all.

Dispatch from Day 3

Yesterday, my second day at work, I spent much of the day in meetings, little of which I understood. Starting this job is like moving to a foreign country, where there’s a whole new language and culture, and where everyone is friendly and nice, but they all go about on totally incomprehensible tasks. On the bright side, they have lots of good food.

I have started training on the product itself, getting into stuff I never need as a CSA. Apparently I get to study for a Series 99 certification test, although my boss didn’t seem to care whether I passed so long as I learned something. Right now I’m just going through in-house training videos, which I always have found to be a tough way to learn. I’m trying to take notes and pay attention; but mostly I think I’ll learn as I go.

Also yesterday, I got assigned my first project, which I have no idea how to start. I trust I’ll get some direction at some point. Oh, and I did get to do a little bit of editing, which was fun. And I met a bunch of people whose names I’ve forgotten.

Today I also get some training on the authoring software, which should be interesting.

I rode home again yesterday and did some intervals on the trail. I liked that better because after a while that trail feels very long and dark without something to focus on. Plus commuting is tough – just ride as quickly as you can maintain for that distance. I usually end up losing focus and slowing way down after about 15 miles. I’m taking a break today and bussing both ways, but tomorrow I think I’ll try going across I-90. It’s about the same distance, so I’ll be interested to see if it’s any faster or slower.

Last and least, I got several huge zits, one right in the middle of my forehead and a few around my mouth, starting on Sunday. My skin looks pretty terrible right now, which is a humbling way to meet all these new people for the first time. It stinks, but I’m stuck with looking like a feckless teen at the height of acne season until my skin clears. I’m trying to just leave it all alone, but it’s taking quite an exercise of self-restraint.