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Another Beginning


Jibralta
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So far, the new job seems really, really good. 

This place has been a lot more orderly than any other architecture firm I've worked for. The people seem nice. It's not as rough and rowdy as some of the places I've worked, but nobody seems uptight. 

There is a lot of talent here. The owners are talented.... and more importantly, they are involved. They don't just sit there like entitled royalty. They don't seem to expect their employees to miraculously save the day. They don't seem to panic very much.

I'm almost afraid to think (or write) any of this because I have a tendency to be stupidly optimistic and to overestimate people. So, the jury is still out. But so far, I like it.

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 One of my coworkers at my last job, Hassan, started giving me updates on the sht-talk that's been going on there since I left. I'm largely uninterested, but I'm not going to ask him to stop updating me. It's good to have an ear to the ground sometimes.

Hassan is going to be giving his notice next Monday. Simon is going to sht his pants. He has been kissing Hassan's ass for the last couple of weeks, telling him that he's going to be a manager soon, that he's getting experience there that he won't be able to get anywhere else... One time, Simon actually said to Hassan, "Don't be like Jibralta," meaning, go with the flow and don't rock the boat.

Clearly, he's afraid that Hassan is going to leave. His behavior puts a couple things in perspective for me, one of which is the way that Simon treated me when I first came to the company, and also when we had that stupid meeting after both survey crew chiefs quit. Both times, he seemed overly appreciative of me. I didn't get the creeps or anything, I just thought it was odd. In retrospect, I think it was the kind of damage control that he is now practicing on Hassan.

Simon will probably blame me for poisoning Hassan against the company. Funny thing is, Hassan is the one that poisoned me against the company. 😂 

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Don't you love hearing this stuff?

My former boss told my successor that I was "all woe is me" because I insisted on upholding the company mandated standards and practices. I thought that was hilarious.

Another former supervisor who was pressed into firing me was repeatedly asking my friend who still works there "Someone explain to me why we fired Boltnrun!" because my successor kept making mistakes.

All I think every time I hear something like that is "I'm so happy I don't work there anymore! "

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Posted (edited)

My boyfriend and I go on a walk every morning, and sometimes I use that opportunity to hash out my thoughts. I've been thinking a lot, but not writing a lot because it's hard to suss out the nuances at this point. Talking helps.

I was talking to my boyfriend about vulnerability the other day, and how important it is to be open to criticism at work in order to learn. I remembered something from my past that I hadn't thought about for a long time, and it opened my eyes a little. 

I guess first I have to set some background. I've been meaning to do this anyway, because I know I'm going to be reaching back in my past to make comparisons as I go forward. So, without further adieu, I present here a brief career history, beginning with my first job after graduating from college:

  • Job 1: Graphic Artist
  • Job 1A: Cabinet Maker
  • Job 2: Account Manager
  • Job 2A: Moonlighting for my Uncle Joe, an architect
  • Graduate School
  • Job 3: Designer/Draftsman
  • Job 3A: Moonlighting for a design-build company
  • Job 4: Designer/Draftsman, Project Specialist
  • Job 4A: Part time work/ moonlighting for an architect
  • Job 5: Project Architect
  • Job 6: Survey Technician, Architect
  • Job 7: Project Architect/Project Manager
Edited by Jibralta
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Posted (edited)

In more detail:

Job 1: I was a Graphic Artist for a print shop.

I fell into this job while interviewing for a customer service position at the company. When I found out the company did silk screening, I said, "I can do that," and proceeded to inadvertently sell myself into the role of graphic artist, even though I had zero experience silk screening or using any of the software involved. I didn't know I'd been hired as the graphic artist until my first day of work, when the office manager led me out of the main office, and into the print shop area. I spent about a year and a half at this job.

Job 1A: I made cabinets.

I did this briefly (for probably a week or two) while hunting for a more permanent situation. The pay was very low at this company, so I asked them to pay me cash and they did. I was totally upfront with them about this being a temporary situation. My main takeaway from this job was that my palms are not indestructible and how not to shred the skin on my hands during rough handling of particle board (wear gloves!).

Job 2: I was an Account Manager.

This was a very desirable position with a large, Fortune 100 company, whose parent company was based in Japan. This particular regional branch was only 3 miles from my house. I got the job through a serendipitous incident.* I worked there for six years. It was a great company with world-class managers and very skilled IT developers. It had a pretty strict, Japanese business culture that had been relaxed just a little bit for us Americans. A real class act. I learn a ton while working here. 

Job 2A: I moonlighted for my Uncle Joe, an architect.

I did this throughout architecture school, and even do it a little bit to this day. 

Graduate School.

I quit Job 2 and pursued a masters degree in Architecture. It was a 3 - 3.5 year program, so I planned for 3.5 years but aimed for 3 years. I did achieve the degree in 3 years and completed a second masters in infrastructure planning during the remaining 0.5 years. As a graduate student, I was eligible to work as a teaching assistant. I felt very lucky that the position assigned to me was a shift in the model shop, because it gave me 24/7 access to all of the tools.

Job 3: I was a Designer/Draftsman for a sole proprietor architect.

I worked here for two years. I learned to document existing conditions, mastered Revit, did some schematic design, and did a lot of construction documents.

Job 3A: I moonlighted for a design-build company. 

I mainly documented existing conditions in various residences that they owned and wanted to sell or lease. I did this for about 3 years.

Job 4: I worked as a Designer/Draftsman and Project Specialist at a Fortune 500 architecture, engineering, and construction company.

I worked here for about five years. I was initially hired into the architecture department, but spent most of my tenure working in the civil works planning department. I was drawn to the intelligence of the civil works planning team, and the complexity of the projects. I was also somehow alienated from the managers of the architecture department.

In the civil works planning department, I did a lot of economic analysis. I also got a good amount of experience working in construction, on a massive heavy civil project. While working for this company, I passed all of my exams and obtained my license. However, I had diverged from my desired career path because I was not practicing architecture.

Job 4A: I worked as an Architect part time (and then moonlighted) for a sole proprietor architect (Bill)

I first posted about this job in Thoughts, Rants, and Musings. It was my first step back on the path to architecture. I also posted about it in my Tips for Dealing with Unrealistic/Oblivious Boss(es) thread because I hoped that Bill would be my way out of that painful situation.

Job 5: I worked as a Project Architect for an architecture company that had a full engineering department.

I worked here for about two years. I posted a lot about it in my Thoughts, Rants, and Musings journal. This job got me back on my career path to architecture. 

Job 6: I worked as a Survey Technician, and then as an Architect for an 'engineering' company that bought an architecture company. 

"Engineering' is in quotes here because I honestly think they are more of a planning and surveying company. The owner is a PE, but I don't think he's technically proficient. He knows a lot about zoning and regulations, though. This is the company that I wrote my Tips for Dealing with Unrealistic/Oblivious Boss(es) thread about. I also wrote about it in Thoughts, Rants, and Musings before things got really bad. 

Job 7: I am working as a Project Architect/Project Manager in a design-heavy architecture firm.

The story is still unwritten.

______________________________

*I temped in the warehouse of this location twice, while I was in college. The first time, I temped during my summer break, through an agency. When that contract was over, one of the warehouse managers approached me and asked if I'd temp again during my winter break. I said yes. That second time, I bypassed the agency and temped directly through Job 2. A year or two later, when I moved on from Job 1 and worked for Job 1A, I 'cold-called' Job 2 by walking into the main lobby and asking the receptionists for an application. The warehouse manager walked into the lobby right as I was finishing up the application. When she found out I was applying for a permanent position with the company, she said, "Gimme that," snatched the application out of my hands, and handed it directly to the HR manager. They hired me in a temp-to-perm position that did eventually become permanent.

Edited by Jibralta
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1 hour ago, Jibralta said:

I was talking to my boyfriend about vulnerability the other day, and how important it is to be open to criticism at work in order to learn. I remembered something from my past that I hadn't thought about for a long time, and it opened my eyes a little. 

This thing from my past happened before I graduated from college. I was temping at the company that would eventually become Job 2. I worked in the warehouse, doing typical warehouse tasks, like picking inventory, packing it, checking shipments for accuracy, and participating in the monthly inventory counts. I was 20 or 21 years old.

Even though I was one of the only females who worked in the warehouse, I felt very much in my comfort zone. Aside from the bosses being sticklers for accuracy, the expectations were very low. I could dress down, I didn't have to talk to anyone, and I didn't have to show any particular skill besides getting my work done right. It was safe. Obviously, I didn't have a lot of faith in myself and my ability to succeed in life.

I was a bit of a loner, but I did become somewhat friendly with the people who worked there. One of these people was named Bobby. I think he was about 40. He was a body builder, and a little OCD. He was a nice guy, outgoing, talked to everyone. I never felt like he was trying to hit on me or anything.

Most of my interaction with the other employees happened in the break room. This room had windows opening onto the walkway that employees took to enter the building. Beyond the walkway, you could see the main office building, which was attached to the warehouse area by a glass vestibule and entry way. It was actually a very pretty complex on an attractive piece of land. 

The first morning break for the warehouse coincided with the office area's lunchtime. We often saw the sharply dressed men and women returning to the building as we sat and drank our coffee. One day, Bobby turned to me and said, "One day, I'll be sitting in here watching you walk into that building in your suit and heels." This was during my second stint in the warehouse, when it was well known among the workers that I was a college kid. I brushed off the comment, thinking, No way. That could never be me. But he still brought it up now and then.

Fast forward to 24 years later, walking with Arnold. I remembered Bobby telling me that. I remembered how I felt back then. It was such a revelation to me right now. 

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On 5/12/2021 at 7:47 AM, Jibralta said:

I have a tendency to be stupidly optimistic and to overestimate people.

I think that this is partially due to my own inherent ingenuousness, and partially a due to a defense mechanism that I've built up out of necessity. I am guilty of deliberately ignoring and minimizing certain red flags in my last few jobs. But I think I had to do that because pigheaded optimism was the only way that I could stay the course. 

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At my last job when someone gave notice they would walk them out of the building that same day. Even though legally they had to pay them for 2 weeks. They got in a snit and had the person leave immediately. Lol

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15 hours ago, boltnrun said:

They got in a snit and had the person leave immediately.

It's so spiteful and self-defeating. I'm surprised my last employer didn't do that. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2021 at 9:49 AM, Jibralta said:

I was talking to my boyfriend about vulnerability the other day, and how important it is to be open to criticism at work in order to learn. I remembered something from my past that I hadn't thought about for a long time, and it opened my eyes a little. 

On 5/15/2021 at 12:17 PM, Jibralta said:

One day, Bobby turned to me and said, "One day, I'll be sitting in here watching you walk into that building in your suit and heels." This was during my second stint in the warehouse, when it was well known among the workers that I was a college kid. I brushed off the comment, thinking, No way. That could never be me. 

I had completely forgotten that there was a time in my life where I didn't believe that I would ever do anything more glamorous than work in a warehouse. I remembered it by accident. 

As I spoke to my boyfriend that day, I was actually talking about a different time at Job 2, about a year and a half after the incident that I wrote about above. But the memory of my conversation with Bobby was integral to this memory.

I had done my stint at Job 1, and now the warehouse manager that I'd once worked for at Job 2 had helped get me a temporary position in the office at Job 2. 

It was a very basic, data entry position. But I had never done anything like it before. To me, it was Big Time. Suit and Heels Time. I sat in front of the computer screen thinking that this could make me or break me. Then I thought, I can only do the best that I can do. If it's not enough, it's not enough. This is where I find out.

And then I took what felt like a leap of faith. I did my best, I asked questions when I needed help, and I made myself open to criticism--I know, I know, how much criticism can you possibly get with data entry lol.... But it was important to me at the time. And I did fine. I did more than fine, really. 

What I said to my boyfriend, and this may be right or wrong, is that this job, Job 7, may be another situation like Job 2, where I actually might--just might--get the guidance and positive reinforcement that I need. But in order to get that guidance, I have to be able to drop my guard a bit. And my guard is waaaay up, I can tell. From Job 5 and Job 6, my knuckles are right up against my cheekbones. And I really think I oughta relax.

Maybe.

It's so hard to tell.

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Posted (edited)

I came up with an idea this morning, while talking with Arnold on our walk. 

There are three things that I need, career-wise. They build upon each other a bit (sort of like the Bechdel Test):

  1. Employment
  2. Employment in the architecture industry
  3. Employment by competent, skilled individuals (there are levels of competence and skill, too).

During the last 10 years, I've had five jobs. All have fallen short of this trifecta in some way:

  • Job 3 - 2 years
  • Job 4 - 4 years, 9 months
  • Job 5 - 1 year, 11 months
  • Job 6 - 11 months

(Note: I'm exempting all of the "A" jobs from this analysis because they were/are intermittent. I'm also omitting my current job for obvious reasons.)

In Job 3, I was employed in the architecture industry. My boss was very kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. He did have competence, and he did have skill. I think his main problem was that he didn't get things up off the ground. Maybe he was too much of a dreamer. After two years, he pretty much closed his doors and focused on politics, becoming a town councilman. This job gets a 2.75/3, which is pretty good.

In Job 4, I started out in the architecture department, but switched over pretty quickly to the civil works planning department. There, I worked with extremely competent and skilled individuals. However, the industry was something other than architecture. It was parallel in some ways, it was related, but it was different. This job gets a 2.5 out of three because of the industry difference. Not bad.

In Job 5, I worked as an architect for an architecture company. There were some truly competent individuals there. Unfortunately, the ownership was largely incompetent. As a result, the management was also incompetent. I did still learn, but much of that was due to my own determination. I got very little valuable feedback while working there. This job gets a 2.25 out of 3. Not terrible....

In Job 6, I worked as a surveyor and then as an architect. The surveyors were very competent. It was so impressive. The senior architect.... not so much. What little feedback I did get was usually incorrect. He is actually misguiding the junior architects, who don't know enough to know any better! On top of that, the ownership was negligent and bizarrely warlike. This job gets a 1.5 out of 3. Terrible.

Yikes. By this measurement, it seems I've been experiencing a bit of a downward trend in my jobs. That's because I started emphasizing Priority 2 so much during the last 3 years. Architecture industry at all costs. It has to be this way, though. At least until I'm established. 

I realize that I am omitting work/life balance from my analysis. That probably isn't good. If I included work/life balance, some of the scores would change quite a bit. Maybe I should do that. 

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So far, this job has been really good. Lots of work, lots of hours, but I feel good.

Nadine, one of the owners, is crazy-talented. Easily the most talented person I've ever worked for. Head and shoulders above the rest. I'm surrounded by talent, actually. It's a little dizzying.

Everyone in the office is so mellow, and so helpful. It's nothing like the last two places that I worked, where people hid their lack of knowledge and acted like they were surrounded by stupid people.

The woman who sits on my left, Pei, worked for a famous architect for 18 years, and has built projects all over the world. She is so knowledgeable, and so encouraging... and talented!! Really, there's just so much talent in this place. 

Nadine has a steamroller personality, but she's actually a very nurturing person and appreciates when people put thought into their work. She's great at brainstorming details, and brings her employees these beautiful design books to use as references. She gave me a book on architectural proportions and details last week. It made me so ridiculously happy. lol.

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A good sign today.

One of my first projects was for a covered deck addition to a restaurant. It was supposed to be simple, and supposed to be completed about two weeks ago. But I didn't get it done until yesterday. Turns out it wasn't so simple (things rarely are).

I worked extra hours over the last few weeks, and about 13 hours over the holiday weekend. Finally, yesterday, the structural engineer signed off on it and I was able to give it to Nadine for review. 

Today, she came over to talk to me about staffing. She said, "I looked over the set. I haven't had a chance to go over all of the connection yet, and I'll probably need to talk to you about them. But it looks awesome."

I was so glad to hear that.

I've worked for such entitled asshles over the last three years. It was amazing to get any feedback from those jerks, let alone good feedback! 

Feels good to be appreciated.

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One slightly weird thing.

Went in for a few hours today to get some work done. I was in the office by myself, so I locked the door behind me.

Every once in a while, a copy machine would go through some process and make a bunch of noises. I've noticed that they do that from time to time, without generating any output. I figured they were self-calibrating or something. 

At some point, I went to get a printout from one of the machines. I noticed there were several "Windows Printer Test Page" printouts in the output area. Another test page was coming out as I was standing there. 

I thought that was weird. I mean, I could understand if someone working remotely accidentally printed to the office machine, but why would they print a test page? It's useless unless you can see the test page, or are communicating with the person that was looking at them. I was the only one there, and no one was communicating with me. 

I think about seven test pages printed while I was there. I figured the receptionist might scratch her head about it on Monday morning, but that's about all the thought I gave it. 

There was a brief power outage at one point. A couple hours later, I heard a door open on the other side of the building. A guy came in, said "Hello?" I said "Hello" back, and walked out to where I could get a look at who he was.

It was a guy I'd never seen before. Tall, big, heavy.

He obviously had a key, so I figured he had business there. He said, "Did the power go off a while back?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I could tell because I was logged in doing work and suddenly I was booted out." Then he walked into Sandra's office (she is one of the owners).

I went back to my desk, thinking Do you work here? I've never seen you. I hope you're not messing with Sandra's stuff. And if you are, I hope I don't get blamed for it. But I didn't ask any questions. I'm not very social and I didn't really care who he was, as long as he left me alone. 

Two minutes later, I heard a door open on my side of the building. I heard the quiet bustle of people entering, and voices. One of them was clearly female.

Pei walked in with her son. We greeted each other, and her son went to get a glass of water.

I said to Pei, "Do you know who that guy is back there?"

Pei said, "That's my son."

I said, "I know that's your son (lol)! I'm not talking about him. There's a guy back in Sandra's office."

Pei said, "It's probably Sandra's husband."

I said, "I don't think so. I met Sandra's husband last weekend."

Pei walked out to where she would be able to see the guy, right as he was coming out of Sandra's office. She said, "Oh, that's Dean. Hi Dean!" 

Dean is the IT guy. I've talked to him on the phone a couple of times. I have to say, I didn't really like him. He's rubbed me the wrong way for reasons I can't quite define.

Dean walked into our portion of the office and introduced himself. We exchanged pleasantries, and then he said, "Which one of you is watching the Gilmore Girls?"

Pei and I both said no. Dean walked around to the each desk, turning on the computers. He said, "One of you was."

Pei and I looked at each other. Pei said, "I just got here." 

I said, "I've been here for a couple of hours, but I wasn't watching Gilmore Girls."

Dean said, "Well I could see what was happening here from my computer, and someone was here watching it."

I said, "Well, no one was here but me. I don't know what you were looking at, but I wasn't watching it."

Dean stopped arguing and seemed focused on powering the computers on.

Pei and I started talking about our projects, and I powered down my computer and got ready to leave.

Dean turned to us and said, "Turn those two computers on please." Pei and I complied. 

To be honest, I felt some hesitation at turning my computer back on for a guy who just accused me of watching the Gilmore girls! I felt like he was going to hack my computer or plant porn on it or something. (I know that's ridiculous; he could still do those things if I refused to hit the on button). I just felt so skeeved out by him.

I called my boyfriend when I got in the car, just to chit chat on my way home. I told him about the creepy IT guy. I mentioned the test pages, too. But I didn't put two and two together about that until I got home and saw my boyfriend's expression. He said, "He was probably doing that to freak out whoever was working there."

Weirdo.

 

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I have found that IT people, while absolutely brilliant and great at what they do, sometimes communicate differently. It's nothing personal against anyone.

The IT tech at my former company had an absolute fit if something wasn't done exactly the way the regulations stated. I was moving to a new location and management decided I should just keep the same laptop. An IT tech from my new location went to pick it up and he literally had to pull the laptop out of the other IT guy's hands. He said they were playing tug o'war with it, while the other IT guy protested vigorously.  He finally just ripped it out of his hands and left.  True story!

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10 hours ago, boltnrun said:

I have found that IT people, while absolutely brilliant and great at what they do, sometimes communicate differently. It's nothing personal against anyone.

Yeah, there's definitely a type. Especially in the early 200s, when companies started retaining IT professionals in their offices. Dean is a vestige of those times, for sure.

I think the Simpsons nailed the type pretty well with Comic Book Guy. I mean, this is exactly who came to mind when I was dealing with Dean. Dean has darker hair, though. And he may or may not have a ponytail. 

image.png.9f6fe1c0447fa0c22d7157345e5ae094.png

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