Last weekend I put in my first two days as a corporate sellout at Company X.
This place is the polar opposite of my current job in every way, from the polished office in the skyscraper to the security clearance cards to navigate the building.
See, currently I work in higher ed. I have blinds in my office that were broken before I moved in that will still not work for the next person. I’ve put in a request to have them fixed. Four times. I have accepted that it just won’t happen and every day around 3pm when the sun appears in my window, I wear sunglasses at my desk. I do this because the work request to fix it is $40 and I’m told our office doesn’t have that in the budget. Once a month the bathroom on my floor is out of service. Once a quarter the whole building is cut off from the water supply for maintenance. Once a summer some building on campus has a broken AC. We once went five years without any merit raises. Sometimes I get a lunch break somewhere between 10am and 3pm. Sometimes I don’t. We are currently guided by austerity measures and attrition. I have already been asked to submit my resignation just as soon as I am able “to help with planning the office budget.” They even asked me to burn through my vacation days as I’m able (an hour here, a few hours there) before I resign so they don’t have to pay me for them. This is the life I am used to.
You can imagine what it was like for me to get a key card with my face on it that lets me into all of the secure areas of the building including the enormous, fully stocked break room with two stainless-steel refrigerators. I had a full and undisturbed lunch break (at lunch time!) in front of a floor to ceiling picture window overlooking the city. I was instructed to take a ten minute break every hour because, and this is actually what they said: “we appreciate you and your skill and we want to be sure you are taking care of yourself mentally and physically.” I was given an ergonomic assessment so that my chair, desk and keyboard were at the appropriate heights and distances to reduce fatigue and physical injury. A licensed massage therapist wanders through the cubicles offering massages for anyone that needs one (compliments of the company). The company also contracts two therapists for employees to access – one for situations encountered on the job, the other for personal life situations that could affect performance on the job. There is a designated area for books and puzzles for when you need a mental break. There is a phone charging station with chargers supplied by the company. They have a great mentor program. The list goes on and on.
So. This is the view from the top.
With the theme song from Working Girl cycling in my head I sat down at my cubicle and looked around. On the wall just outside my cube there was a row of framed certificates of recognition. I knew every name on every certificate. These were people in my field whose reputation preceded them. Some I had met. Many I had not. They all worked here. The rock stars of my field just became my colleagues.
The work itself is extremely challenging and emotional. But it is also very interesting and rewarding. I would love to describe it more, but I spent a good half hour signing papers that said I would not tell a soul about the work I do or the information I am privy to or the specific location of the office or the names of any of the other employees…that list goes on and on too.
I hate to say it. It doesn’t feel right. It tastes funny in my mouth. But. But. I think I might like it. It’s nice to be appreciated and valued. It’s nice to work in a place that seems to have some control over the temperature in the office. It’s nice to know, nay even decide, to take my breaks when I need them, not when and if schedules allow.
It’s early yet. I’ve only been at it two days. But if it keeps going this way, I could get tremendously comfortable being a corporate sellout.