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advice to interns on their last week

At the beginning of the summer I told you guys to take pictures, and you did right? Even though engineers hate having pictures taken? I know it's awkward. And I know I said we like having photos of interns having a good summer and you probably thought oh, she's trying to look good for HR. Maybe! Maybe.

But there's this picture of me at a test bench in 2005 and I'm really glad it exists. I regret that my group lead was the one taking the picture so he's not in it. He was wonderful. He was my second boss but probably my best and he's retired now. He told me months later that he hand-picked me for the program, he liked to give young people a chance, keep the team small and lean and mean and "give a young lady like yourself a big bite to prove herself". And I did. I specked out a whole crew alerting system in six months and wrote a database to do it and it drove me crazy, then I was the one who had it all in my head so I'd be crouched in the middle of a light jet fuselage plugging a laptop into the 232 data ports under the floorboards surrounded by mechanics, like clowns in a car. I was getting a masters degree. I'd come to work at 6 or 7am, write my reports and do drawings because I couldn't get on the airplane, it was too busy. I'd go to my night class. After class I'd come back to work because the second shift guys were cooler and would let me on the plane easier. I was exhausted! it was terrible.

it was wonderful.

We take pictures of vacations because we're supposed to enjoy them. Work, you get paid for, so you don't have to enjoy it. Why take a photo of a test bench, or a cubicle, or a primer-colored plane with half its panels missing? But I'm saying to do it because when you think back on the times that were wonderful you'll be happy. Even if you're not sure it'll be wonderful, take it just in case.

Okay some of you are rolling your eyes thinking oh sure, she loves this place, but can't it be just a job for us, do I really have to be IN LOVE with a company where all I've had is an internship? It's okay! Not everybody loves it, I'm not saying you will. Hell, some people outright DON'T like it, maybe you'll leave, I don't know. We had a guy spend five years getting an engineering degree, come work here, put in three years and then turn in his notice, he wanted to be a Christian camp councilor. Quite a direction switch, right? I was stumped but I had to hand it to him, he made a call. He didn't stick in this job and make everybody work with a guy who didn't like his job. We are passionate about the things we're good at, get better at the things we're passionate about, that's the cycle you're trying to find your way onto.

We have these annual performance reviews. Engineers groan at them. Just wait. But I think they're important because they're a timestamp, our vain attempt at emulating the semesters that added a page to your transcript. Otherwise there are no transcripts here. What were you doing in 2016? I promise you'll forget. It will all run together.

Back to the photos... here's what really got me. Our project engineer was trying to put together a booklet for a guy who's retiring. 35 years with the company, and he said it's so hard to find any pictures. The guy just quietly loved airplanes for decades and now we want to send him off and we can, that's great, but I wish we had some more evidence.

I love my photos of my childhood, my friends in college, my wedding, my babies, my dog as a puppy, all of that is important. But everybody knows to take those photos. Work is a part of your life that naturally gets segmented off as the thing to not love and not make memories of, you just do it with your head down. It's fine to treat it like that 90% of the time. But once a year or so, take a picture? Especially if it's a boss you like. Or someone who mentored you. Okay yes that's what I'm getting at... the technology in the photo backgrounds is fun to laugh at, the computers behind you, the phone clipped to your side, but the people are what you'll really want to remember.

They say family is important because they're your people. Here you will meet all kinds of people. You won't love them all, that's okay. But I have met some amazing people here. Who'd have thought it? I didn't know I'd make airplanes, in life. I didn't learn about airplanes in college. I learned to love them because I was good at them, I got good at them because I wanted to love what I was doing for a living, otherwise I couldn't do it.

But the people, I loved accidentally. And I didn't realize it when they were here, some of them, they moved on and there are just thumbprints.

my first supervisor told me that cream rises to the top. it didn't matter what decisions I made, he said, I would succeed here, he said "your career will accelerate one day at a pace that makes even you uncomfortable". it echoed in my head when I became a manager.

I think about him all the time because he was right. It does go too fast. but now I'm realizing, not just the career. it was everything.


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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2016 01:27 pm (UTC)

A very touching post. Touching because it's TRUE. I wish I'd taken pictures of where I worked and who I worked with, even the people I disliked. Too late now. Even the building I worked in for seven formative years is gone, replaced by a higher high rise. FanSee

Aug. 5th, 2016 03:00 am (UTC)
That is very good advice. I think I will share it at my office too.
Aug. 5th, 2016 04:45 am (UTC)
Well written.
Aug. 18th, 2016 03:56 am (UTC)
it's so hard to remember to document the every day things. Something I've done at the last 2 jobs I've left was to do a walk through of pictures. Take one driving into the parking garage, going into the building, up the elevator, into the office, to the desk. They're really good to have later. You don't forget how it looked, all those hours you exist in a place, not school or dorms, or apartments, old houses, but being able to see it is so much stronger.

We're moving offices at the end of the month, so I'll probably go through this routine next week.

anyway, where's that 2005 picture? Did you post it in here when it was contemporary? :p
Aug. 18th, 2016 10:21 am (UTC)
Nope. I'm afraid since it's got a lot of test bench setup in the background it has not and shall not ever be posted on the internetz.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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