Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Culture and Career Notes

"Culture fit is more of a key determinate of success or failure in a company than actual experience or ability. It's one thing to tune into the superficial tenets of a culture, but it's another to really understand the culture." -- When You Don't Fit In at a New Firm from CareerJournal
We had an offsite team party today at work to celebrate my two months with the company. No I'm kidding. But I'm ecstatic to report that the new job is still going great, at least from my point of view. I hope that my new supervisors feel the same way haha... I'm still learning something new pretty much every day, which is a really good thing for a career in technology, not to mention being fun. I also feel like I have connected well with my new colleagues and believe that my skills at doing this can be wholly credited to some of my extracurricular activities *ahem* SPACE.

Sure, I learned tons and gained great skills from my other professional experiences. But when it came to actually engaging the specific culture in my new job [and you do know that every environment has a culture], lessons we have tried to impart to students were very practical for me as well. Lessons like being a learner instead of thinking you know it all; identifying key elements, stories and legends of a culture; and how important it is to at least try key elements of a culture like music, food and language [well, maybe not so much that last one...]

A few short examples:
::: My new friend R spent 30 years working for the government. His personal email hints of Oakland and Pittsburgh and he takes the sports pages of the paper to McDonalds every day. His car has a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a Nimbus 2000." In other words, he loves baseball and Harry Potter and can tell you long, varied and rich stories about a career working for the federal government.

::: Every person has a mini-whiteboard outside their cube. It is used for information - when are you going to be out or late, emergency contact info, etc. When I first arrived, my cube didn't have a whiteboard and I had to wait a few weeks while mine was on order. The most innocuous object can be significant in a specific context.

::: My new friend B, who sits next to me and is training me is really involved at Covenant Life church, Josh Harris' church. It's too bad - not that he goes to that church - but that I'm working so closely with someone who has the same belief system. I mean, that is a good thing. Er, sort of...

::: It's amazing what you can learn about people when you ride in a car with them for a few minutes.

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