My friend wasn’t kidding about the market being hot. I had a job within a few days . Here’s how it worked. I called a headhunter and described my background and education. He called back with an interview date and time with SoftwareCompany, and I agreed to show up.
The whole process was embarrassingly easy. During the interview I was asked simple questions relating to my field by two different engineers. I spoke to my prospective manager for a total of fifteen minutes. I smiled and nodded a lot. I told them I really liked computers and programming and looked forward to making professional use of my skills. Back then I could say that without it being a lie.
For this investment of about two hours, I received a job offer at the end of the day. Sixty thousand dollars. I’d be making more money in a single year than I’d earned in the previous nine combined. None of it seemed real. I was so flabbergasted by the dollar amount that the thought of negotiating didn’t ever enter my head.
I signed the papers on the spot, instantly joining the ranks of countless 9-5ers. It was the happiest day of my working career, and I hadn’t yet made a dime.
The following Monday I showed up to the office wearing my only pair of khakis and a light blue dress shirt borrowed from my roommate.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The night before I was so excited I barely slept. My whole life I’d been told that working is this great thing, a way to contribute and give back to the world, a means to make a name for yourself. And now here I was, on the brink of starting this great new adventure in my life. I felt important. And special. Maybe even a little bit scared.
Someone from HR picked me up at the front desk and showed me to my work area. This was my first exposure to a cube, and I didn’t really know what to make of it. They consisted of fuzzy, bluish gray walls, off-white desks, and pull-out shelves to hold keyboards. A 19″ CRT monitor took up most of the cramped real estate.
So this is where you sit. Just hang out here a bit, I’ll have your manager stop by when he’s out of his meeting, said the guy getting me situated.
Yeah! Yeah, of course! I said. My voice was higher than usual.
Also, I’ll get someone from IT to come by later so you can log in.
I waited for an agonizing two hours, scared to go anywhere because I might miss whoever was going to come down and set me up. I had to pee and I was thirsty. Finally a young looking Asian guy showed up. He set my PC up in about two minutes and tried to get away as quickly as possible. I interrupted him, and asked if he had any idea what I should be doing next.
Oh, it’s not my job to tell you what to do. Didn’t you talk to your manager yet?
Nope. Some HR person checked me in here.
Oh, he says. Do you know what department you’re in?
Uhh.. engineering? Support?
Well which is it?
Ok, you want Paul.
He walks me down a hallway with cube farms on both sides. We turn left and right a few times and I start to feel like I’m in the hedge maze at the end of The Shining, except the trees have been replaced by small prison cells. Would I ever find my way out? I could not believe the number of work areas packed onto the floor.
Suddenly we’re there, and I’m looking at Paul, my manager, the guy who interviewed me. He seems distracted. Later, I realize that he was on calls with upset customers all morning. They’re referred to as escalation calls in the biz, and they suck.
Paul apologizes for making me wait and marches me down another corridor through yet more cubes and drops me off next to another engineer.
Mike, show <livingafi> the ropes. He’s going to be taking tickets in a month. Make sure he’s ready.