Good news everyone! Starting Monday, I will finally have a big boy job again. I’ve been hired as a writer for an insurance company to do their web copy, press releases, white pages, case studies, and internal communications. This position looks to be a solid balance of technical and creative writing and it’s exciting to think that I’ll be taking on work that’s stimulating, challenging, and different from anything else I’ve worked on. Plus, I’ll get paid a salary, not a freelance rate or an hourly wage. I’ll get benefits and vacation days, I’ll have a commute and coworkers. Perhaps, most importantly, I’ll work in office.
Dream: Be awesome at working in an office.
Goal: Achievable. I’ve worked in an office as a writer once before, though it was a decidedly more casual environment. I was part of a group of writers for a young company that you could tell wanted to be a “ping pong tables in the lunch room, chill out in an executive hammock” sort of place, but they never raised the capital to get such extravagance off the ground, but they painted the walls bright yellow, so that’s something. Anyway, this was an office, but unlike this new position with a successful company with a proven business model, this previous job was a corporation built on a shaky premise with a dwindling client base and an ever-weakening revenue stream that dissolved completely three years after its inception. As such, standards for things like dress code and inter-office communication grew a little lax in the face of bigger issues like, “Can we say any of this, legally?” and “Didn’t we use to have a Human Resources department?” This time around, however, I anticipate an environment more typically “office-y” and I want to be ready for it.
Plan: Put into practice everything I know about working in an office as I prepare to start my new job. I will be mindful of things like:
1) Dress code. I have a leg up on this important component already. This past year and a bit working in fancy clothes has given me a sense of what is acceptable to wear in an office environment. A well-tailored button down shirt paired with a slim dress pant does wonders. Throw on a tie and a v-neck soft sweater or lightweight wool blazer and you're golden. A t-shirt that says "Bazinga!" or "Accountants Do It By the Numbers" doesn't make as strong an impression. I am actually staying on at fancy clothes one or two nights a week both because the people there are lovely and because a great employee discount guarantees I won't have to paint my sweatpants black or sew buttons onto my tanktops in a desperate scramble to procure formal wear.
2) Office politics. I have no idea who I'll be working with or under, but that doesn't concern me as much as avoiding the office know-it-all or the inevitable elevator small-talk about a recent sports play that ruined that sports competition over the weekend. Offices aren't big enough for too many disparate personalities, and I'm hoping never to be a party to dumb conflicts that arise over nothing. Sometimes, however, awkward encounters are unavoidable. I'm sure I've told this story before, but it bears repeating. My father worked an office job for decades. One afternoon, as he was leaving for the day, a coworker asked him if he was coming to the staff meeting the next morning. Dad replied, "I'll be there, unless I get hit by a truck." To which the coworker responded, "I'd probably think that was funny if my sister hadn't been hit and killed by a truck." I mean, can you even? How do you respond to that? Dad just mumbled an apology and avoided mentioning trucks or sisters to that particular colleague again.
3) Cake. Man, I'm excited for cake. If the trope isn't true, the one from tv and movies dictating that office birthdays are celebrated in a staff room with a large cake, I don't know why anyone would ever bother showing up to work at all.
4) Working. Maybe it's dorky, but I am legitimately excited to bring my talents to bear, here. A big boy job that pays me to write for 40 hours a week is something I'll be really lucky to have. Getting the interview, researching the company, and writing a sample for them exercised muscles I keep otherwise dormant except for occasional freelance gigs. I'm excited to prove myself in this way again, and will show up on Monday morning, scrubbed up and turned out, ready to have my cake and eat it too.