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Free Education: Office politics

March 6, 2008

I signed up for a free class offered by a local university through my workplace. The class is about office politics and was brought in by the women’s leadership group. Being one month into my job, I’m not in a leadership role, nor do I have a short term goal to be there (or long term, for that matter). Still, I had a lot of reasons for signing up.

  • I am addicted to learning and can’t start my “real” technical classes until fall.
  • Office politics? I’m young and I’m more technical than political, so I figured it would be good to expand my horizons
  • A chance to network with other women in a male dominated company
  • Something to keep me busy and get me more involved in my company
  • Might look good on a development plan
  • 100% free to me–Never turn down free education!

I got to the class on time and took a seat at a table with a couple other women. By the time the class filled up, I noticed I was at a table with women in their 40s or older, while the table to my left had several people closer to my age. I thought, “drat. I wanted to meet some people my own age. I sure picked the wrong table.” Halfway through class I changed my mind. As a young employee, the best thing I can do is network with those who have more experience. My table seemed somewhat amused by my presence, and called it “cute” that I had signed up for the class even though I’ve only been here a month. I could take offense at the use of “cute”, but I laughed about it instead. See how cute they think I am when I politic my way up to CEO! Kidding…

We had one naive young lady who asked, incredulously, “Wait, so you mean to say that people aren’t promoted just on the basis of their hard work and talent? I find that really disturbing.” I found it surprising that anyone still believes that. Of course, hard work is quite important, as is talent, but there is more to your career than that. You don’t have to like office politics, nor do you have to play them, but at the bare minimum you should be aware of them.

It is a four session class with 3 hours in each session. We got a binder of class materials and a book. You know you have been spending too much time thinking about personal finance when you think to yourself “Sweet, free book! I wonder if I could sell it on Amazon…” (yes, for about $2) . Also, there was free snacks that counted for most of my dinner.

After this class, I plan to start a sailing class in April. Then I’m going to try to figure out if I can find a way to pay for a surfing class.   Once I do continue on with my Masters program, I’ll have no time to pursue these California hobbies.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2008 12:50 pm

    I made a conscious decision not to want to be actively promoted. To me, it seems like too much responsibilty with not enough pay. I like a balance in my life and I love doing what I do… I don’t need to make it to partner to feel fulfilled 🙂

    But good post – it really highlights what I’ve suspected. “Visibility” at the office pays off … or some crap like that.

    Whatever. My bonus sucks either way – if I do good or bad.

  2. sjean permalink*
    March 6, 2008 1:04 pm

    I haven’t decided what I want out of my career. I want to be promoted in the sense that there are different levels of engineers, and you get paid more for being up a level. But leadership, management…. who knows? I don’t see it now, but I know I could change my mind. I’ll focus on the tech stuff first.

  3. March 6, 2008 5:00 pm

    I live in Southern California too, to be exact OC and yes if they are willing to pay your surfing class go a head! There are some good surfing schools in huntington beach and seal beach if you need recomendation. I started body surfing with my dog; now she does body surfing even better than me 🙂 As far as corporate politics goes, my husband and I were talking about this just yesterday..It is an interesting subject, definetly you will learn alot during that class. Let us know if you learn anything we should not miss!~
    Chicky Finance


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