new job! breakdown + first impressions

Day 2 of work now on the books, and it was a good one. Day 1 nearly destroyed me; I had a terrible night's sleep going into it, and I stayed almost 11 hours. That's a very long time to be learning all new things in an all new environment. I was oversaturated and exhausted and the final three hours of the night were a ride.

Today my boss made a point to mention he hadn't realized how late he'd kept me last night. We had gotten stuck on a technical problem and he's very clearly the kind of person that will focus completely on something, to the point of losing himself in a task, and not realize how much time has passed. Today we wrapped at 6, though once we're done with the whopping 2.5 days worth of training I'm gonna get, I'll be out of there by 5pm every day. My boss told me he's cool with me doing 9 to 5 every day, but when we reviewed our contract with the client, it says they want someone onsite from 8-5 every day. Boss says he really doesn't care if I leave early, as long as the client is happy and has everything they need. I will play that by ear, and I know as I get to know the company I'll be working with, we'll all fall into a routine and the 9am thing might be feasible. Literally all the lights can be turned on remotely and pre-programmed, so there's that. Either way I'll be done by 5pm every day, and off every Saturday and Sunday.

Let me just repeat that glorious thought: I will be finished with work every day by 5pm, and off every Saturday and Sunday. Oh god that is the best thing ever to say and to know. 

I go back and forth with myself about whether or not to share the exact kind of work I'm doing. And that is 100% a personal security issue, unfortunately. There are a few absolute nut jobs out there that I don't trust to not go out of their way to try and ruin my life in one way or another. And I just don't want to risk anything. Suffice to say I work, obviously, in a professional office environment. I will probably throw a few photos up on my story, because the space is absolutely gorgeous and I want share, but that's it. Honestly if you pay attention and read into my clues, I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out anyway. 

The thing that is going to be challenging about my work is that the client I'll be working with hasn't come into the space yet. They won't be there for a couple more weeks, and even then it will likely be a slow trickle until all 200 or so employees are there.

And there's no amount of training that is going to prepare me for what will happen, once they start rolling in. I can learn and review procedures, but there are dozens and dozens of variables in this setting and environment, and I'm just going to have to learn on the job. I will have tons of questions. I will make mistakes. Things will absolutely, certainly go wrong. It will be frustrating. But the only way out is through. And one of the great things about my company is the incredible support system they have built. 

So let me talk a bit in general terms about my impressions so far. 

The actual space I get to work in is a dream. Thirty thousand square feet, it encompasses two low floors in a historic building right downtown, and was completely gutted then built out to spec for this business. The entire middle section of the space is open, though, with stadium seating orientated around a viewing area with a projector. So it feels incredibly grand, open, and airy. Two sides of the lower level face out onto the street, so you have amazing views of the heart of East Loop. Clean streets bustling with professionals, lined with those beautiful street lamps and (right now) trees done up with holiday lights. I have some photos on my story, and I'll move them to my Homecoming highlight soon. 

The business end of things is ultra modern and high tech, and all of the equipment, devices, etc are as cutting edge and intuitive as can be. Touchscreen, plug and play, app-operated, and all with remote access. So if anything comes up after hours, say I need to unlock a door or turn on some lights or check something on a camera, I can do it from home. 

I have a lot of new apps. 

All of this super high tech is housed in the most beautiful space I could imagine working in. The company retained as much as possible of the building's original interior as it could. Epic, 10-foot by 10-foot chandeliers that must be almost 100 years old. Ornately carved elevator doors. Old-fashioned mail chutes, still in the walls. What's new has a very classic contemporary, very Restoration Hardware look. Crown moulding, panel moulding, baseboards. Spiral staircases with turned leg railings and balustrades. The furniture is modern and plush and plentiful, and there's a wide range of lighting (every single bit of it on dimmers) from floor lamps to Edison bulb overheads to canned lights on the ceiling. Everything is neutral greys, greiges, black, and bright white tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. Chic and modern and immaculate. Every inch of it brand new and unused. 

And oh god, the kitchen area. Ultra modern, massive dual refrigerators, soft touch close drawers, dishwasher. Rich grey wood cabinetry with black pulls and handles. There's a cold brew tap and a second tap as yet undecided. Top of the line appliances. It's so lovely. 

And because it's in a historic building, everything is taken care of. The building is extremely restrictive about access, so all of the cleaning and maintenance is handled by them. Literally every night a cleaning crew comes through and dusts, sweeps, empties trashes, cleans the bathrooms -- all of it. So every morning when I come in, it's like little elves have come through and magically reset the space to sparkling and new. 

If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know how incredible that would be. And it is so fucking incredible, and a thing I would have taken for granted had I not worked in kitchens for the past five years. As it is, I am endlessly thankful for this aspect of the job; I recognize how huge a blessing it is, particularly since most of the other spaces in my company do not get this perk. Most of the other employees doing my same job in other cities have to contract a cleaning service, and likely handle a lot of small things, like trash removal, themselves. Whereas if we get a bunch of deliveries and I have a ton of empty cardboard boxes, I can just gather them into a pile somewhere out of the way, put a bright orange sticker on them that says "this is trash, please remove" in like five languages, and poof, they're gone in the morning. 

If something breaks, I put in an online request with the building, which is manned and serviced 24/7. Things get fixed immediately, because it is 38-story, historical building and tenants pay dearly to be there. No more stressing about $$$$ industrial refrigeration units breaking down on me, or the AC going out, or worrying about break-ins. All of that is taken care of. There is security every hour of the day, every day of the year. 

As to our own IT, of which there is a ton, I have an actual department to turn to if there are issues. Our main IT guys are Cali-based, but the companies we use for our A/V, lighting, and communications equipment are all based out here. If something doesn't work, I summon someone from those teams to come figure it out. Yes I will need to troubleshoot myself and get walked through the process via phone first--but as my boss said tonight, "You're not on an island out here."

I do not doubt things will go wrong. They already have, and my boss has already hit his own walls and needed to call for support. I fully expect issues will arise. But one day at a time. And after my boss is gone, I'm going to mess with stuff using my own laptop to practice as much as I can before the client comes in, after the new year.

Which reminds me. I'm off December 24th through January 2nd. What the fuck. WHAT THE FUCK. An entire week off, paid. Coming from restaurants where I had to work both Christmas Eve and NYE and all the days in between (except for Christmas itself), this is mind blowing. MIND BLOWING. These hours and benefits are why I dragged myself out of bed every morning of November, scared as shit, to tackle the cause of getting out of restaurant management and into managing anything else. All those hours spent retooling my resume, my LinkedIn, painstakingly tweaking my cover letters for each application. Days and days of preparing for interviews, writing out questions and answers, printing up one sheets and memorizing key points. And every time I wanted to stop, reminding myself over and over and over that I had to get this right if I wanted to get out of the food service industry. And now it is paying off. 

So yeah, I get to explore Chicago the entire week of Christmas to New Years. That is my life. That is a real thing that is happening. Cameron very sweetly invited me down to Houston but are you kidding me? A whole week to tool around my new city, all by myself, during the most festive time of the year. I can't believe I get that. I can't believe it's happening.

Oh, benefits. 

It's all the usual stuff, and turns out that despite them recently upgrading their health care, the company is absorbing the additional cost rather than passing it on to employees. But there's also other rad stuff. I got a brand new Microsoft Surface Laptop. Touchscreen, detaches and transforms into a tablet. Also, my cell phone is being paid for. Also, they do a wellness plan, where your gym membership is paid, if you want one. My building's gym is incredible, so I don't need that, but I might ask if instead they'll pay for a fun fitness class of some kind.

What else. Today there was an all hands Zoom, and I got to see most of the other people who do my same job, but in other cities. My company has a presence in California, Washington state, Washington DC, SLC, Texas, and Minnesota. So, pretty spread out. But the corporate structure is very slim, and today I learned that some locations haven't seen their boss's (or their boss's boss's) face, in person, in several months. Which is good and bad. There is clearly zero micromanaging in this company; there can't be. It's clearly sink or swim in many cases, since they're opening so many new spots at once. I will be literally the only employee of the company here in Chicago; all of my support will be handled remotely, and once weekly Zooms with my boss--plus Slack all day, with the whole company more or less--will be it for interacting with my coworkers.

That's definitely a little intimidating, especially since every single thing about what I'm doing is brand new--but I am used to running things solo, too. I really do get to make this space my own, and work closely with the client to cultivate culture and make it a second home for all of us. 

I can't think of anything else to share in terms of my work, at least not yet. 

Next post, I will show you some of my apartment building, in particular the amenities, which are truly unreal.

Time to unpack some clothes that came, yay!