The cube farm

It’s not as miserable as these lego people make it look, really.

The closest I’ve ever come to a job involving cubicles is my year-long work-study stint at the GGC within UCD. I didn’t have a cubicle of my own, but the four other people who worked there did. Well, technically two, because the other two had proper offices.

Anyway, I started my IISME fellowship at LM this week, which is why I am talking about cubicles now. Impressions from:

Day 1: Lots of confusion…apparently we (the IISME fellows participating at LM) are not in their system? We don’t even exist? 1 hour later, they finally found us and allowed us in. Another 2 hours later we finally got our badges. Then onward to an orientation that felt like a giant LM advertisement. You’re talking to a bunch of people who purposefully applied to your company – you don’t need to convince us of how great you are. Then we built a 74″ tower made of 5 sheets of paper and 3′ of masking tape as a team exercise.

Spent the rest of the day touring the offices, meeting people (tons of names which I have now forgotten – half of whom my mentor didn’t even know herself and she works in the same room with them), and trying to figure out why my computer won’t let me log-in, and why the timecard keeping system won’t recognize me. 9 hours of glitches, done. At least they fed us breakfast and lunch. That lasagna was good.

Day 2: Yay! I can log-in to my computer! Yay! I can get 32 professional development units from CSU Sacramento (one of my alma maters, yay!) for only $80! Yay! I have a pretty good idea of what I want my Educational Transfer Plan to be (basically a lesson plan that is connected to this fellowship, which is the whole point of IISME to begin with). Yay! I got to eat lunch outdoors! A lunch that I got to buy from a food truck on campus (my building is far from the main cafeteria)! It was a decent sized, warm, toasty BLT sandwich for only $4.

In the afternoon, I sat in on a meeting that my mentor facilitated. The way it was conducted was pretty interesting, although the topic of discussion wasn’t. Parts of it was way over my head, so I couldn’t help but yawn a few times.

Then, now that all the technology has started working for me, my mentor showed me how to search their database so that I could finally get going on the project that I was hired to do. It’s still fairly rudimentary right now, just gathering the appropriate types of data – and there is A LOT of data – all together. I’ll analyze it later, once it’s consolidated. Getting very familiar with one particular Excel worksheet.

The timecard system still doesn’t recognize me. Eh.

Cons: 1) I miss my own familiar working environment at school. This morning, I bumped into one of the college interns in the hallway of my building and she asked me where to go. I couldn’t help her at all. I also miss my colleagues (Hello Super Colleague…that is if you are reading this at all amongst all the fun you are having in Taiwan!). Usually, in the summer, I don’t miss school. I’m thankful for a break and I look forward to doing nothing and everything all at once. I don’t miss my students. But I miss them now that I’m in an unfamiliar work environment. I’ll get familiar, it just takes some time.

2) I’m counting it as a con, but to be honest it’s not that bad. The commute is about 2.5 hours round trip, much of it spent sitting in a parking lot of a freeway. I usually dislike sitting in traffic after school, but for some reason, this isn’t so bad. And it’s somewhere like 3-4 times as long as my normal commute. It’s probably because I’m not as wiped out working in an office as opposed to teaching all day.

Pros: 1) Learning new stuff by the minute. The office structure and culture is most striking to me right now. Today, one of my cubicle neighbors was clipping his fingernails. Another was on his phone reading soccer stats when I returned from a bathroom break….and he was again doing the same thing when I got up for lunch an hour later. I would NOT be able to get away with either of those things at school. Well, I take that back. Maybe I would ‘get away’ with it, but it would make my day harder rather than easier.

2) I’m also learning lots about Excel. I especially like the fill-in color feature; got to use that a lot today as I organized and structured some worksheets for data input.

3) My mentor is pretty nice, but I’m clicking the most with one of the newer guys. He’s a dude from Texas who was recruited to LM right out of college. I’m guessing he’s 23 or 24. I seem to click with people in that age group a lot recently. Everyone is really nice, and super helpful. I’m working on getting out of my shell and being intentional about getting up and talking to people.

4) Did I mention I get to each a non-packed lunch OUTDOORS? Under a blue, blue summer sky? It’s great.

5) Oh yeah, I also get paid. After calculating it, I get paid at almost my normal teaching hourly rate. Wow! A relatively higher-skill white collar job that pays less than teaching! Well, within a few dollars. And if the past two days are any indication, this job may be white collar, but it’s not very high-skill. Yet.


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