This is my 4th week interning with InterImage. I have no IT experience, and with two years of college have yet to decide on a major. I still have not adjusted to the 40 hour work week (and am not convinced I ever will), but I have easily adjusted to the overall dynamics of an office. My peers are welcoming, encouraging, and helpful, without treating me inferior but rather as an equal. I have responsibilities, and am included in corporate initiatives and projects. I may not end up with an IT degree, but at the end of each day I know that I’ve both learned and accomplished something, which is more than I can say for my past experiences as an intern, or what I’ve heard of the intern experience from fellow students. In this environment, I feel like my ideas and what I have to say can matter. So thank you, for this integral learning experience and opportunity to grow.
I’m a “nice girl from New Jersey” who’s lived in the DC area many more years than I ever lived in New Jersey. Subsequently all of my working life has been in this area. In recent months I’ve become reacquainted with many former colleagues through local conferences, LinkedIn connections or just riding Metro. People I haven’t seen in decades – out of the woodwork – almost to the point of being a karmic experience. And all positive reconnections, except maybe that first boyfriend from high school (via Facebook, what else?)
Reconnecting with “old” friends has made me realize how deeply rooted I am to Washington. Meeting a former colleague on Metro, lunch with another after reconnecting on LinkedIn, a 60th birthday party in Cape May, a late night wedding reception where multiple former colleagues were in attendance – it didn’t matter the venue -- it was as if the decades didn’t exist, as if we had just seen each other yesterday. Those old bonds were still strong, we looked much better than we did then and the distance of time was inconsequential.
It is the ties of friendship that bind us together, give us support and help make life a happier, more fulfilling experience. To have such a deep level of friendships is a gift. Everyone should be so fortunate.
So after careful consideration and a hint from our CEO Leslie Steele, I decided to contribute to the Employee Blog. I held off because unlike some of my colleagues, I have not yet found an ipad in any price range that I would consider. I also have not won one in any raffle or door prize drawing to date. This is an open hint that at the next holiday party we should have one as the grand prize. It would force people to stay the whole time instead of eating all the sushi and heading for the door.
Anyways, one of the great benefit of working for a company like InterImage is that they go out of their way to make you feel at home. One of the perks that I always appreciated is the fact that they supply us at the client sites with Snacks like Pretzels, Graham Crackers, Coffee or my personal favorite Wheat Thins. Sometimes we get really busy and having the snacks nearby allows us to get through without stressing over when our next meal will come. Usually one of the managers will come to the client site and deliver the snacks to us about once every two weeks. Well there was this one time where I had to go to the main office to do some training and they asked me to take all the snacks back to our client site. So imagine that I have only been working at the company for a month and I am walking out the door with two buckets of pretzels and balancing several boxes of Wheat thins and anything else our Receptionist was willing to part with. Right at that moment the Chairman of InterImage John Steele comes around the corner and says "Who are you?"
Unfortunately at that moment I had no choice but to drop half of the items I was holding and stick out my hand to officially meet the Chairman of the new company I just started working for. It appears that he was not in the office the day they walked me around to introduce myself. As only I could do, I stuck out my hand and simply said "My name is Tim Cole. I am the Data Architect who USED to work for you."
Around that same time I remember our Chairman, John Steele, purchased 200 boxes (give or take) of girl scout cookies with the intention of giving some to the troops and some for the employees. I tell you that her heart was really in the right place but unfortunately there was not a lot of room to store all those boxes of cookies. So ever so often we started getting deliveries of snacks with like 200 boxes of girl scout cookies. It was as if our company was sending platters of lobster and prime rib and we thought we were in heaven. Later on we found out that someone put all of the cookies in a storage closet that was near the server room and therefore the cookies were melting faster than a Snickers bar on a Sunny day in July.
I guess this is as good a time as any to thank the Executive team for the cookies and the Wheat Thins.
John’s blog post about his iPad inspired me to write about mine. While my iPad is now last generation, I still love it!
Being a little geeky, I showed up at the Apple store the day the original iPad did. Blown away (I still am) by the clarity of the screen, my initial reaction was that it looked like a giant iTouch (which I had recently given my husband as a present). I thought it was one good looking, expensive toy. Of course, my son the technology early adopter, got one immediately and couldn’t sing its praises enough (he’s already upgraded to the iPad 2). Next came the e-mails with the iPad signature. And our friend’s Facebook video posting showing his two year old using an app to stack blocks. The final event came at a client meeting when I saw another consultant using her iPad to type notes and go through an online course during breaks. I had to have one!
During the mid-90s (a long time ago) I worked in an advanced technology center for a system integrator. The focus of the center’s work was to demonstrate how emerging technologies (at that point the web, smart cards, data mining and analytics, advanced user interfaces, etc.) were beginning to impact business. It’s gratifying to see how much of the early research has become part of our lives, such as online banking. There were lots of handhelds, wearable technology devices, data visualization tools, and other really cool technology to try out and demonstrate. When I saw the iPad, I immediately knew this tablet was going to change things. I didn’t know how but I wanted to try it out for myself. And I had to find a compelling reason to buy it.
I decided that I would use the iPad to become paperless. While I’m internally organized, my external organization is not always stellar. A look at my offices, both at work and home, exposes that. I came to the conclusion I should take notes on the iPad - I could have them available on my iPad and by e-mailing them to my PC, I keep them organized in folders. Furthermore, I prefer to hand write notes as opposed to type. As a work app, I could rationalize the high price for the device. I did a bit of research and found a good app (Dan Bricklin’s NoteTaker HD), bought a Pogo Stylus and started writing. It took a few days to get comfortable, including figuring out the orientation (I prefer portrait), and using the wristguard. While it was a bit jerky, I wrote my notes pretty much like I had a paper tablet. And I could categorize and find them easily. I began to find value!
I downloaded a bunch of apps and found some useful and/or fun, others not. What I really like is the portability. I carry it in my purse (I did buy a larger purse) so I always have it with me. While I didn’t get the 3G version, I subsequently bought an iPhone 4 with a hotspot so I can get connectivity in most places. Most of all, I’m not lugging around a laptop. In addition to doing the basics like checking e-mail, Facebook and LinkedIn and general info gathering, I use the iPad to plan trips, make dinner reservations, watch videos, read books. I’m totally sold on connectivity and mobility – and can’t wait to find new ways to use my iPad!
John’s raves about his new iPad remind me of one of my favorite comedians who made an appearance on the Conan show (obviously a while ago). He joked about our expectations of technology; that we need to acknowledge how impressive and amazing our world has actually become. Which I think we should. And we do– just as John does with his iPad, and every person who realizes that they cannot live without whatever phone, tablet, gadget, or thingamajig that has integrated into their every-day.
Remember rotary phones??? YouTube "Louis CK– Learn to Appreciate Technology.” I bet you’ll laugh…
The 'high-stakes game of chicken' being played out in Washington is enraging. How have the very people we put into office to represent us and make decisions in our best interest allowed us to reach this point? I am not the only one that will be impacted by a Federal government shutdown and surely am not who will be the most devastated. But I am furious none the less. Maybe people will remember these feelings of frustration and anxiety come election time. Maybe the shutdown will not actually happen. Maybe I will accept that there is nothing I can do about it if it does.
Whenever our HR director, Ken, comes by to introduce a new employee to me, he also points to the fish tank sitting by my desk and says, “And this is Bruno.” Most people peer into the bowl looking for him, but give up and back away after a few seconds. I appreciate Ken’s proper introduction of our office pets, but I never have the opportunity to explain that what is in the tank is not actually Bruno.
A while back, I figured it would be nice to have some office pets, so I purchased two beta fish, one male and one female. Sweetheart, the female, was a pretty rose color and, I suppose, was frustrated with her captivity. She decided to perform a suicide leap out of her temporary holding bowl the first night I had her. The blue-purple male beta, Bubba, I was able to safely deliver into the office tank. Being a novice fish-keeper, I blame myself for him floating atop the bowl just three days later. Am I making a sad-face now? Yes.
I thought I would take what I had learned from Sweetheart and Bubba and try for a third beta, Bruno. Bruno, being a pretty teal color, was the perfect office mascot. John, with his great, big heart bought a Bio-Orb tank to give Bruno a fighting chance of survival. The tank was large enough that my manager, Paul, bought four other fish to keep Bruno company.
All was well in the IImage Bio-Orb until one of the fish vanished- no bite marks, no bones, no body to investigate. Hmmmm.
Over time, two more of the new fish took the path of the copper pipes. Bruno and Goldie (I don't know what kind of fish he is but he is not a goldfish) were the only two who remained. They cohabitated for at least six months until John fished poor Bruno out of the tank over Christmas break. Bruno had lived for a long three years. Though he is gone, he is not forgotten (I know, so cliché, but still true).
Paul introduced a puffer fish to the tank a short time ago and he was an awesome little thing- he had teeth! The little guy was so friendly that we could actually hand feed him. The day after I posted a video on Facebook proving his feeding ritual, he perished. Then we finally knew. GOLDIE WAS OUR PREDATOR FISH!
The “Jaws” of the Orb, Goldie (aka Bruno, according to Ken), is still thriving, all alone, and curiously, refuses to swim near the front of the tank (maybe there are ghost fish haunting that section of the water). Whatever Goldie’s reason, it would explain why none of the new hires can ever see ‘Bruno’ when Ken introduces him.
In memoriam of Sweetheart, Bubba, Tiger, Rosey, the unnamed, and Bruno
When I was ten-years-old, my family went on vacation in Florida and visited Cape Canaveral. I fell in love with the solar system and decided there I wanted to build satellites for NASA. Convinced of my career path, seven-years later I started Penn State determined to graduate as an Electrical Engineer. Honestly, I loved my engineering classes, but when I hit Engineering Calculus Level 2, I realized my childhood dream would not become a reality. The truth was I loved my social life too much to stay in my dorm room, alone, and study for 10 hours a day. Calculus and Physics classes are the type of class where you’d tend to study on your own for long hours, and I am a people-person. This was my first career crisis moment. If I wasn’t going to be an engineer, what was I going to be?
I graduated college with a degree in MS&IS (Management Science and Information Systems), still uncertain of what I was really going to do in life. In the beginning of my first “real job” out of school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so my boss let me do a little bit of everything: DBA, Software Developer and Technical Writer. I ended up liking and working as a Software Developer. I started as the low-man on the totem pole, and worked my way up to head developer within a year. It was a career path that I had not chosen, but it had chosen me. Software Development would be my career for the next 10 years.
During my last review, my boss and I talked about where I saw myself going. What was the next step? We talked about my strengths and weaknesses. As a Software Developer, my next career path would logically be a Solutions Architect. Yet, since my degree was not in computer science, I lacked some of the fundamentals of software development. Although, going back to school part-time was a possibility, as we talked about the roles and responsibilities of this career path, I realized that I did not want to be a Solutions Architect. What do I want to be when I grow up? I had officially hit a career crisis.
During our hour long conversation, we talked about other career paths: Project Manager or Business Analyst. I had to focus on my strengths, and follow a career path that most suited my personality. We agreed that my strengths were not necessarily with the technical aspects, but with people. I love designing an application, but the “how it works” no longer excited me. I like talking to people, and figuring out what they need. It’s like a puzzle I want to put together. My boss and I eventually decided I would move from Software Development to a Business Analyst position.
Luckily, I work for a company that likes to keep employees they see valuable. I have worked hard for InterImage, and they in turn are supporting me in this new career path. I must admit, it is strange to feel uncertain as I did when I first started working. Starting a new career path brings on so many new challenges, but also new opportunities. I am excited about learning and growing in a career that has not chosen me, but that I have finally chosen.
I’ll be one of the first to admit that I’ve been caught up in the busy lifestyle of the average American. A byproduct of wanting to do too many things or being involved in too many activities was my reliance on prepared meals. Sure, I “cooked” on occasion, but can anyone seriously consider pasta as cooking?
One of the things I decided for this New Year (was that really three months ago?!) was that I was going to cook more often and be more diverse. I’m no stranger to the kitchen, growing up my mother taught me to cook and I delighted in it… well, for the most part. I can guarantee that I was the only boy in the neighborhood who was responsible for cooking dinner one night a week (Tuesday).
So, when I decided to dive back into cooking, I didn’t think it would be that hard. I had the background; I just needed to brush up.
Cooking one meal, one day a week is a far simpler task. Fortunately, the internet came to the rescue. Of course my earlier efforts were simpler: tacos, baked ziti, beans and rice, etc. but it wasn’t long before I was spending an hour at the stove to make that perfect Bolognese sauce. Sure, I’ve still got quite a way to go before I’m Alton Brown, but the reward of cooking something from scratch has meant a lot to me.
Not every recipe I try is difficult; actually, many are surprisingly easy. It’s the breadth of recipes I find myself exposed to that amazes me. People are out there, passing over cheap and easy frozen meals in lieu of trying to cook something new every day. The best part is finding a place where everyone comes together to share their experience. It is invaluable to someone trying to get started and you find yourself exposed to foods you’ve never even thought of.
Like that recipe for homemade artisan bread using your own sourdough starter which should prove perfect for the rib-eye shooter’s sandwich I found this morning.
I can’t wait to get home and get started.
The other morning, I arrived at Union Station as usual, caught the red line train to Metro Center and went to transfer over to the Blue/Orange line for the remainder of my trip. Walking down the escalator I encountered a huge crowd of people standing on one side of the platform. At first, I was elated as the train I needed arrives on the opposite side and I would not be forced to deal with whatever the problem was.
Unfortunately, I soon found out that a large section of the track was out of service and the trains were all operating on the side where everyone was standing. Dejected, I took my position in line and waited dutifully for my ride. While waiting, I counted five trains traveling in the opposite direction before one finally arrived going in my direction.
Needless to say, I was less than pleased, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do and this single inconvenience certainly wouldn’t be enough to deter my continued use of Metro.
All the way in to work, I sat on the train trying to think of how I would’ve tackled this issue. I couldn’t believe that sending huge groups of trains in one direction before allowing them in another was the best situation. Mostly, my “solutions” were simply ways to improve on MY commute… until I reached the other end of the line. There were so many people waiting on trains into the city that they were backed up onto the upper level. It was at this point I thought about how my solution benefited me, but ignored all these other people in the very same position.
Software development is much the same. By necessity, individual developers focus on a specific part of the whole program. It is only through meetings with the other developers and project managers that they begin to understand the levels of interaction required for the entire program to operate smoothly and effectively.
This realization gave me pause and it dawned on me the breadth of the tasks our company tackles every day so our clients continue to receive the absolute best product possible. It’s easy to look at a single problem and come up with a single, acceptable solution, but it takes a lot of talent and hard work to ensure that that very solution works well in the entire process.