City business
Certain cities are known for certain things, and it's sort of part of their identity.  Like Las Vegas's business is gambling, Los Angeles's is movies and TV, and Detroit's (at one point) was cars.  I went to Nashville recently, and their business is country music.  The city I live in now is Huntsville, AL and our business is rockets.  For Tuscaloosa, a city I recently visited which is home to the University of Alabama, their business can best be described as "football team." #business

Dressing for work
There's that saying:  "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."  I've always felt like that leaves out the middle case:  If I have the job I want (and vice versa), then how should I dress?  We live in weird and modern times (or maybe it's just a function of where I've worked), but my employer has never officially specified a dress code.  They'll say things like "no open-toed shoes" or "no shorts," but that leaves a lot on the table. 

Since I worked at my last job for a while, I became sort of a subject matter expert, so my "work" preceded me in the sense that people understood what I did and what I was capable of.  My attire or physical appearance was completely irrelevant, so I mostly dressed "down" unless I was meeting with customers or whatnot. 

At my new job, I've been dressing "up" because I haven't been there long enough to have a reputation.  I feel like if my "work" doesn't yet have a voice, my outfit probably should. #business

Foreign vs. domestic products
There's a pervading belief that things made in places like China are low quality and cheap.  This may have been true at some point and is probably still true in certain circumstances, but it can't possibly be completely true anymore.  "Yeah but this little plastic thing I bought at the dollar store broke immediately because it's from China."  Yeah?  And your $1000 iPhone was made down the street from that plastic thing.  A product's national origin doesn't determine its quality. 

Which also begs the question, what is a product's national origin?  Is it where it's manufactured?  Where it's assembled?  Where its corporate headquarters are?  I used to own a Japanese car.  But this specific car was assembled at a giant manufacturing plant in Kentucky.  It was sold at an American car dealership.  Its profits went to the American subsidiary of the Japanese company.  Maybe some of the parts were made overseas.  But then how do you decide how American it is -- by the number of parts made in America, or the size of the parts made in America, or the importance of the parts?  It's a crapshoot.  Everything is from everywhere, which is why "Made in America" or "Made in China" mean relatively little. #business

People leaving work
At my previous job, one of the younger employees left after about seven years.  That always seemed odd to me.  Like, I get that you don't feel fulfilled by your job or whatever, but how did it take that long for you to figure it out?  And the weirder thing was that this guy (actually two different guys, same exact story) left the field entirely.  He went to a specific college to get a specific degree, was employed in the industry for not a few months but a few years, then left the job and the industry abruptly to do something entirely different or nothing at all.  Not to boil it down to simple economics, but you completely wasted a good education and the training you received on the job.  Sorry not sorry. 

At my new job, it seems the same situation occurred which led to me getting hired.  A guy worked at this place for summer internships, got a specific degree to work in this specific field, worked for a few years, then took a completely different job in a different industry.  I heard it might've had something to do with sort of disillusionment at the industry and the whims of management, which I fully understand, but still.  This is nothing new.  Work comes and goes, projects begin and they end.  I get that you're unhappy with the situation, but you knew that going in.  So to throw away your time in the job, plus the time and money and effort you spent getting there, is kinda bonkers. #business

Competent redundancy
At my old job, I wasn't usually the smartest person in the room, but I was often the only person in the room who knew how to do certain things.  This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, because it's good to be competent, and it's also good to be valuable.  But it often felt like if I wasn't there, my tasks wouldn't get done.  It was a single point of failure. 

At my new job, it feels the exact opposite.  Not only am I not the smartest person in the room, but the room is also filled with a lot more competent people, and there's beneficial redundancy.  If one person is incapable or unable to do something, another person can fill in the gap. #business

Name brand job
I worked for the army for a long time.  People know what an army is, and they know what the army is, but it was always difficult to talk to people about what I actually worked on.  "So you blow shit up?"  It's hard to put into words how far off that is from reality, but yeah, sure, I blow shit up. 

My wife worked for a long time for M&M Mars, the candy company.  That was easy to explain.  Even if it was hard to explain what she did specifically, everybody knows what M&M's are.  There are probably only a few people on earth who aren't familiar with at least one Mars product. 

Now that I work for NASA, I feel like I finally have a name brand job.  I do some pretty specific things for some pretty specific projects, but everybody knows what NASA is.  In fact, a lot of people know more about the project I'm working on than me. #business

Job application feedback
One of the more difficult parts of applying for jobs is that you receive no feedback, whether you get rejected or offered a job.  I realize this would place an unnecessary burden on employers, but it would be helpful to know if you rejected me because I'm too old, or too young, or to inexperienced, or you just didn't like my personality.  But at the same time, it would also be nice to know why you accepted me.  Was I your first choice, or your last?  Do you think I'll be a good fit, or are you worried about how weird I am?  People who have applied for and been accepted to various jobs sort of deduce that certain statements on their resume or personal traits played a big role.  But it's really hard to know when you get no feedback. #business

Hybrid work
We've entered the era of hybrid work, which is a combination of on-site work and remote work, and I gotta say, it's literally the worst of both worlds.  The benefits of on-site work are that you see people face-to-face and run into people in the hallway for impromptu chats.  The benefits of remote work are that you can concentrate distraction-free while not wearing pants.  Hybrid work, as it's currently implemented, is left to the worker to decide how to manage their on-site and remote days.  So some people choose to be in the office Monday and Wednesday; other people choose Tuesday and Thursday, etc.  What this means is that on any given day you're in the office, you have absolutely no guarantee that the people you want to see will be there.  Which means that not only is your presence completely wasted, you're also working in a distracting office and you had to put on pants to do so.  And to get in contact with people, you have to call or message them anyway, which is the exact same thing you would've done if you weren't in the office. #business

Project names
I work at a place that's bad at naming things.  We use a lot of acronyms, and project titles are handed down to us from higher up.  So we receive a project title which is usually a string of buzzwords, and due to our collective lack of creativity, we're left with a bunch of unpronounceable acronyms for project names like ERPM, ACGMT, and JEGL.  And even when our acronyms are pronounceable, we still screw it up.  Some people pronounced our project PEFM as "PIF-M," instead of HOW IT'S LITERALLY SPELLED, JERRY YOU IDIOT. 

A good project name should be a single pronounceable word, probably short, preferably two syllables or less.  A name like Quarterback is kind of long and awkward, but a name like Tailback just has a good ring to it.  If the name absolutely must have two words, it should be easily and nicely abbreviated.  And this should go without saying, but neither the word nor the abbreviation should be an obvious reference to a sex act. 

The name can either be relevant or irrelevant.  For example, the Air Force has the Eagle (F-15), the Falcon (F-16), and the Raptor (F-22), which are all named after birds of prey.  They chose a theme and stuck with it.  On the other hand, I've worked with organizations who chose project names like Deadlock or Override, which are literally just arbitrary titles which have no relation to anything.  But when you say, "I finished the Deadlock analysis," your coworkers know what you mean. 

The name should be decided upon as early as possible, and it should never change.  I just need something to call the folder that's storing all my files associated with this project.  I need a word to put at the beginning of my email titles. 

I've always been impressed by groups and companies that name things well.  I don't know if it's due to their marketing department, or simply having creative people around.  Oh well, back to work on PLOMPH. #business

Occupational identity
I was having a discussion with some friends the other day when the following sentence came up (paraphrased):  "I don't want to send my kids to that type of school because their curriculum is anti-[his profession]."  I thought that was an odd position to take, both because it's probably completely untrue, but also because I can't imagine identifying myself so strongly with my job.  I have a job, I'm somewhat proud of it, and I mostly like it.  But at the end of the day (literally), I stop doing my job and go home and don't think about it.  I think my job suits me well, but if I didn't have to do it anymore, I'd quit literally this second.  I'm defined by a lot of things, and one of those things is certainly my occupation.  But I would never say I'm primarily defined by my job.  If you or a school or anyone wants to criticize my profession or my industry, go for it.  It's certainly warranted.  The idea that a job is central to your identity and is above reproach is completely foreign to me. #business

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