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.

Dispatch from Day 2

These posts will be lagging a day, since I’m writing them on the bus the next morning. Also, I expect my number of typos to go way up, since my phone’s autocorrect so helpfully intervenes at times. (Don’t take this as a complaint about my new phone, by the way – I’m really liking having a working mobile device! It’s going to be very handy now I’m away from home so much more, too.)

So, my first day! It went as smoothly as I could have hoped for, and I think I will like my team and new manager. The office is open floor plan, with minimal little dividing walls between desks. The desks are mostly in clumps of four. My team’s clump is near the bathrooms and kitchen, which is handy. I will have to get used to ignoring people walking by, though; until then, I’ll keep glancing up as my peripheral vision catches something.

I was worried about bike parking. I parked in the garage in a public rack yesterday, using my U-lock and a cable to the back wheel. Eventually, I will get card access to the bike cage, which will make me feel much safer. Until then, I’m OK with the system I used yesterday.

I was also worried about getting lost in the building – a legitimate concern, as it turns out, because the lobby/atrium area is so confusing. The are elevator banks all over going to a zillion different places, and it’s confusing finding the right one. I’m sure I’ll figure that out with a little more practice. Meanwhile, I’ll just wander around lost until I recognize something.

And I was worried about getting home. I made myself several bike routes through downtown and followed one of those yesterday. Seattle has changed so much since I commuted there in 2010! But I got through without a car or bus creaming me, and I followed other cyclists on portions where I wasn’t sure of where to go. Once on the Burke-Gilman, it was simply a matter of slogging home. 

I learned two things commuting yesterday: I need a snack before I leave, as it really will take me an hour and twenty or thirty minutes; and clothes that feel warm in Seattle at 5 pm don’t feel so warm in Bothell at 6:30 pm. Good to know.

As for the job duties, I honestly can’t say yet. It will probably be a while before I do anything meaningful. I’m still optimistic, thankful, and excited to have this opportunity, so I’ll just take that and see what happens next.

Dispatches from Day 1

I’m writing this from the bus on my first commute to my new job. It’s hard to credit, but apparently I am, indeed, going to be commuting to the Columbia Center every day because I’m going to be working every day, in a real office to boot – something I haven’t done since my AmeriCorps internship in 2010.

The whole thing feels a little surreal right now. I’m guessing that by the time I’ve had to get up at 5:30 for the third or fourth time in a row, it will start to sink in that yes, I’ve committed to this thing, and it’s going to be part of our life now.

This weekend we went to a wedding. They had all this lovely stuff about their beautiful forever future together, and how this was a huge commitment that required both their whole hearts, and they would have to strive to communicate and listen to one another, etc., and I can’t help but see parallels with my own situation. This kind of does feel like getting married, in a way, only likely not quite so permanent. 

Ian and I are not job hoppers, always finding new jobs every few years, so we don’t have experience with this kind of transition. We have planned and strategized to the best of our abilities, and are trusting God to lead us through the rest.

The funny thing is that I haven’t actually worried at all about the job itself. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out about Benji; a similar amount of time hashing out logistics for if adults; and a decent amount of time evaluating commuting options. I’m still not sure about commuting, to be honest, but I have several different options to try and time will tell which works best. Anyway, I know I’ll probably bus in most days and then getting home will be the puzzle.

But the job itself? I know I’ll do my best, and I figure I can learn whatever I need to; there’s not much point worrying about the rest. So I say now. The people I met at my interview seemed nice, and I trust I can get along with most folks.

I just realized that, for possibly the first time, I did this the right way: took action on what I could control and didn’t worry once I’d finished, and I didn’t worry about what I can’t control (the job duties and my ability to complete them competently). And you know, that feels pretty good.

Here goes nothing!

Employment Evolution

At the New Year, people usually reflect on the past year. I’ll follow that well-trodden road with an emphasis on my employment situation, because this year and next year are shaping up to look so different as to be unrecognizable to one another.

This year saw me reach a tipping point with my Client Service Administrator (CSA) job at Kaizen Financial Advisors, a job I haven’t mentioned much due to compliance and confidentiality concerns. Remember that spectacular sunrise picture I’ve posted more than once?

Sunrise and Mt. Baker from San Juan Island

That morning, sitting quietly on the beach while a deer meandered by, I felt a strong sense that it was time to move on from serving as a CSA. Although I could complete the job tasks well enough, and I served my boss and our clients to the best of my ability, I never got excited about my work. I had the job not because I wanted to work in finance, but because four years ago, my boss offered a super-convenient work-from-home job that I thought would help me stay sane through all the diapers. And it has, so my thanks remain to the job for that.

Yet, this photo reminds me of that contemplative hour that, in some ways, led me eventually to my choices today. It’s when I started questioning our status quo, a tipping point.

Even though that’s when I started questioning whether I should stay at my job, I didn’t immediately give notice back then; I was too afraid of making big changes, and I felt loyal to the company and my boss. But in the intervening months, some personal things combined with a growing realization that I needed a change in my employment situation. I didn’t have any ideas what that might look like at the time, but by Thanksgiving, I knew something would have to change.

At the same time, back in September I went with Kaizen to a user group at Tamarac, a company whose software we’ve used for many years. Their software has dramatically improved in usability over the last couple years (and I’ve done more training, which helps), and using that software was a big part of my CSA job. During that user group, I arranged for us to get a tour of the company and meet our support team, some of whom we’ve worked with for years.

At that time, I found myself thinking how cool it would be to work in that environment. Their company culture seemed positive, and the people we met all seemed nice. I liked their vibe. I idly browsed their job listings, but didn’t see anything compelling — certainly nothing worth quitting my super-convenient work-from-home job in favor of a commute to the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle. But after that I occasionally would eyeball their local job listings to see if anything really compelling came up.

Meanwhile, I gave my notice at Kaizen, and had my last day yesterday, Friday, December 30. Earlier this week, I handed over all my home office supplies and my laptop, along with a big document describing how to do most of my tasks. It felt a little bit like graduating from college again — there’s no “homework” hanging over my head after four years! Hooray!

Last month, something really compelling at Tamarac did come up: a Technical Writer II position, the perfect blend of my previous writing experience and current financial experience. After some serious soul-searching and late-night conversations with Ian, we decided I should apply and see what happens.

What happened was that I got an interview last Friday, which (despite my still recovering from pneumonia) went swimmingly. I thought so, and apparently the hiring manager thought so, too, because he called last night with a job offer that had me bouncing with enthusiasm. I agreed without negotiation or hesitation. It will be at least two weeks before I can start, which is good, because that gives us some time to look into childcare options.

As those of you who know me well are aware, this is way, way, way outside my standard operating procedure. In our family, we act cautiously, with comprehensive planning ahead to cover every contingency, never making seriously big decisions quickly or without knowing as much as we can about how it would work out. But with this job, we don’t know what will happen for childcare and we don’t know about how my commute and being gone full-time would impact our daily life; but I do know this is a job I’m really, really excited about, for possibly the first time in my entire working career.

That, I will fight for. One, two free, here we go!