Work and Work

I may not work long hours (yet), but my intellectual and psychological centers these days remain at work. I wake up, hop the long shuttle to work, work at work, get on the long shuttle from work back to home, eat dinner, and think about work. Weekends are for catching up on work and starting new work. Work is not exhausting, yet I’ve put temporarily aside  friendships and fun to focus on this new phase of life.

I have yet to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to do at work. I’m learning the systems, have finished some small projects, but often drift. Should I propose new initiatives? Am I helpful enough? Do I step on the toes of those that have been there years before me? I’m reaching out to former coworkers outside of the company for career advice, while checking in frequently with my current coworkers over what I’m accomplishing.

The company makes one complex product that sells well, so well that the operations division races to build out new capacity to keep up with sales orders. With product flying out the door, there has yet been intense focus on analytical and business systems. If we’re selling so well, why adjust anything? I’m hoping to put together for executive good looks into operations, such as turn-around times, yields, and volumes. Data Sciences still pulls, parses, and throws back Excel files – fortunately programmatically as opposed to by hand clicks – but still Excel files.

I vacillate from worry that I can’t keep up with the new tools and fear that I will soon be bored. Did I take a job too easy or too hard for me? I am learning that there’s real career power at joining an eventually-successful early company, less than twenty employees. As the tiny company grows, you set up the systems, rise in the organizational structure, and take on the senior management position. At this adolescent 150-person company, I don’t expect ever to run a group because so many of the systems are already locked down; other, smart people made the hard technical and business decisions years ago. I’m fascinated to land next at a less-than 20-person company where I can leverage my start-up experience to make those hard decisions. Unfortunately, most small companies fail.