Why I love my job
In the midst of explaining my recent job chaos to a friend, she asked me what it was about my job that I liked so much.
It took a job that I really hated in order for me to really understand what was important to me in a job. I always secretly figured that as a positive, motivated, hardworking and talented person, I could figure out how to enjoy almost any job. Boy, was I wrong about that! Here is what I posted 2013 after accepting a job I ended up hating:
I like solving interesting problems with smart people. I like working with customers. I prefer face-to-face interaction. I like variety in my work. I enjoy big picture thinking over details, but I can get lost in an analysis once I dig in. I like to continually learn new things. I wanted to combine technical with the business side. I need a fast pace.
My criteria when searching for that job were not wrong, just incomplete. More critically, the most important one that I expected to be met generally wasn’t: solving interesting problems with smart people. (The bulk of the time, I was working on a stupid problem with an adequate person.)
Anyway, here is what I love most about this job. Here is what makes a job a great job.
This is the most important. In general, they are simply my kind of people – scientists and engineers. They make rational arguments for things, they are funny in these clever and smart ways, and lots of them are a little crazy – but still good natured. Having spent most of my career and education around these sorts, it is an extremely comfortable environment for me.
Everyone is ridiculously smart, many with PhDs. I’ve pretty much always worked jobs with highly intelligent people, but this is a whole new level of genius. My colleagues’ brilliance combined with their ability to communicate their ideas astounds me on a regular basis.
But it goes beyond that.
I feel I can simply take everyone at face value, which is absolutely refreshing. People have personalties and they are individuals. I don’t feel they are presenting images. There isn’t grandstanding or self-promotion (this was SO grating in my consulting job). There are just simply nice, sometimes quirky, people who are really good at what they do.
My day to day tasks vary, and but they are mostly interesting.
The biggest thing is that the projects are crazy interesting with goals that are personally meaningful to me. I don’t know how to say more than that without saying everything, but connecting my work to a meaningful goal matters so much more than I imagined. I believe in what I’m doing. I don’t feel like I’m simply trying to make (or save) money for a business, I feel like I’m contributing some small part of something to the world.
I also have learned a lot, and am learning a lot every day, and feel like there is always more to learn.
It is an extremely informal culture, and very independent, and very respectful.
It is very flat. There is almost no top-down management. Staffing basically works like this: If you can convince someone to work on your project, then they work your project. This has pros and cons, but it allows me to get my hands in a few things and lets me have ownership of my job at an unprecedented level.
It is male dominated, but I’ve met zero people at my workplace who have made me wonder if they would treat me differently if I was a guy. Maybe I’ve stumbled into some weird progressive utopia, but gender has been a non-issue, and I’m moderately sensitive to this.
The job just fits in a way that even my LA job didn’t, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Part of that is that I’m more open about my life and more mature, and in general more comfortable with who I am and what I contribute. But part of it really is the culture itself. It is wonderful for someone with my personality type.
This is a bit of a case of “choose your own adventure.” It is reasonable in general, but you have to manage it yourself. Job roles and responsibilities are flexible enough that no one is going to define exactly what you have to do and what your box is. People will ask if you have time for something, and you can say yes or you can say no. Also, I have seen babies brought to the office for a day in a pinch twice – both by men (one my manager). The guys on my team regularly comment on kid pick-up drop-off and scheduling issues around that.
I can tell you what time the parking lot fills up, and what time it empties, and it is clear most people do not put in long hours in the office. My e-mail is rarely active on nights & weekends. There are exceptions to this. There are crunch times. There is an expectation that certain types of work gets done in people’s “free time”. I’m doing that right now, because the problem is interesting, the people are inspiring, it helps with a back up plan, and it is short term. But plenty of people do not do this. I’m really happy with this.
I honestly don’t have any complaints about my job. I haven’t met a single person who drives me nuts (isn’t there always at least one?), I have had bad (even very terrible) days, but it is the best job I’ve had.
Is there anything that is important to you in a job that I didn’t mention?