Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 31, 2010

$elling Out (aka “My First Fortune 500 Job”)

The REAL gold standard

An old friend of mine was instrumental in getting me a short contract with a big Chicago-area company, and I’m both excited and terrified.

Excited to be getting any work at all, let alone work at a decent wage with a strong company (they were around Fortune #100 not that long ago… not sure where they are now).

Terrified … ‘cuz I’m about as non-corporate as they come. Funky haircuts, funky politics, perennially fighting some authority or another — either within or beyond the space where I do my day-to-day living.  But that suspicious attitude was always easy when those authorities and shakers and movers weren’t actually paying my salary. Potshots from the fringe barely make a dent. Gut shots from within the team get you fired.

Plus this low-level IT/software-related position will probably push the limits of my education and experience within that high-tech world. I want to do well, but it’s hard to gage what level of competency will expected from someone in my unique position, coming from outside their typical pool of applicants. I suspect there are enough checks and balances in place that someone will be covering my tush. Nevertheless, the stakes are still quite different than in the academic or not-for-profit worlds that I’ve gotten used to.

The mere fact that the employment agency handling my contract emailed me about 15 different forms to fill out before starting is a sure sign that I’m in unfamiliar territory. Confidentiality agreements, harassment-free workplace agreements, non-governmental corruption assurances… with all this checking into my character, they have me wondering if my secret jellybean fetish will be exposed. Or I might find out that I’ve been committing fraud for years, without even realizing I was doing so (anyone want to buy the secret recipe for a certain pizzeria’s deep-dish pizza?)

Anyway, ought to be fun learning the ropes, … despite having to reconcile that I’m working for The Man now. Not just any Man, either, but for a big player in the health care industry– an industry that I’ve been in the habit of criticizing for pushing U.S. cost-of-living into the stratosphere.

In other words, this is getting weird, people…

Excuse me while I go off to read my 43-page orientation manual. At least then when I do something wrong, maybe it will be on purpose, not out of ignorance.


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