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16 November 2008

long, navel-gazey GYOFB-y content within [More:]

so, yesterday I got a job offer from BigPharmaCo. Yay! right? Well, sorta. I am simultaneously stoked and flat out terrified. Here's the thing. AwesomeBoss is going to really make me sing for my supper, and my slack ass is deeply insecure about that. Why?

Because during the course of the vetting process I underwent the sort of peer review they don't give to secretarial prospects. They really only do this for managerial candidates - over the course of the last couple weeks I and my HR handlers solicited a bunch of what they term "360 feedback" from folks I've dealt with in all the departments I've worked in onsite. Since I haven't actually permanently pissed anyone off, eaten any (live) babies, blown up the lab or danced nekkid thru the halls, I was confident I wouldn't get an unanimous rain of rotten tomatoes. The pleasant surprise was that Individual I'd Judged Most Likely To Stab Me In The Face gave me a positive review, too. But the whole thing was utterly draining and worrymaking, despite how cool my colleagues are, and continue to be. Yesterday's "interview" was essentially just plea-bargaining with HR about benefits stuff and paperwork. It's mostly final, I just gotta sign the offer and pass the physical.

So anyway, in reading said job offer, they don't just want to make me Contracts Lackey, the damn fools actually want to promote me to some species of Records Control Goddess for the entire site (in addition to continuing as Contracts Lackey, that is).

This is me saying "meep!"

Sure, okay, yeah, I've done a shit tonne of document wrangling and such in my past life, but about the only thing I've ever managed at a job is not to lose my mind. Thus I face the prospect of locating (or creating, as is more likely) site standards, figuring out records retention policies, writing a project plan, coming up with a budget and timeline, choosing software and figuring out system architecture and (god forbid) hiring an intern or two to do data entry and schlepping-of-boxes (wait, that's supposed to be MY job...) with a deep sense of trepidation. I mean, the FUCK do I know about this shit? Keep in mind I have a sum total of zero (0) formal education. And my entire career, such as it is, has revolved around the warm fuzzy feeling of having someone else tell me what to do.

the significant pay raise in the offer definitely addresses a considerable amount of budgetary FAIL in the lfr household, so there is that.

Please tell me if I should poke this delicious gooey cupcake before I take a bite. Just my luck it'd be camouflaging a big old crap taco. Or, you know, the aliens could land. (don't laugh, it could happen -- some months back we had a hot air balloon scare; damn thing came within eighteen inches of landing in the tank farm...)

Last but certainly not least, I reiterate my offer of sparkly, whuffly job-getting mojo from awhile back to any bunnies in need. This is a deeply fucked economy and I know I'm damn lucky to be getting any offer at all, so rest assured, I'm grateful.
You're worth it. Period.
posted by danf 16 November | 01:16
I don't know shite about what you do but I will offer you a couple of thoughts.

In terms of "would I like to work for/with you?" I will tell you just by asking the questions you are asking you sound like a better leader than my last three sales VP's.

The negative is this: "I mean, the FUCK do I know about this shit?" Will you keep asking yourself this if you take the job? If so you are likely to fail.

You have a strong vote of confidence from a number of other folks. Why not be nice to yourself and say "Hey, they know I can do it so why can't I know that?" Take the position and believe in yourself like other folks do.
posted by arse_hat 16 November | 01:20
My only concern would be if the organization seemed deeply dysfunctional and was trying to hand you a managerial job as a sort of "We don't know what we're doing, we don't know what you're supposed to be doing, we don't have a track record of supporting or encouraging competence, and we're certainly not going to start now" type of thing. (Which happens.) But you've written nothing but positive things about the company, that I've seen at least, so it doesn't sound like a landmine/hot-potato situation.

You've also written a lot about how happy you are to work there, and you obviously care about the work and have strong opinions about aspects of it, and they're only asking you to manage interns so it's not like you suddenly have to develop a ton of high-level managerial skills, so I say... go for it.
posted by occhiblu 16 November | 01:43
(Not that managing interns can't be stressful, rewarding, or any combination of the two. But I'd be a bit worried if they were handing you the full-time management of a huge team, is what I mean; I think it's a hugely positive sign that they're asking you to step up a bit from your current competencies (which means you'll be challenged, which is good) but not throwing you into the deep end (which would mean you'd be overwhelmed, which is not good).)
posted by occhiblu 16 November | 01:45
Hey, you're being promoted beyond your competence, which means they think you can grow. It's a good deal. They're not likely to keep you down, sounds like.

Self-doubt is a good sign, imho. It means you'll approach the job with an open mind and willingness to learn, which they'll appreciate. You will at some point have to strike out on your own. If you don't do it by instinct, they'll let you know pretty quick.

I like for project stuff. If I'm inferring your job duties correctly, this may be similar to work that I know others have done, so drop me an email if you like.


posted by lysdexic 16 November | 10:37
Get yourself a mentor. Your HR will help you find one. Start networking. If you are at a branch, get some corporate folks on your contact list. Introduce yourself to likely vendors early and make sure they know you also talk to their competition. Keep a minimal journal to document dates and statistics.

Get HR to commit to paying for some management classes. Find the bookstore that has the best business section.

Action verbs are your friends.
posted by Ardiril 16 November | 11:44

You're good enough, you're smart enough, and, doggonit, people like you!

Yeah. What he said.
posted by jason's_planet 16 November | 12:20
thanks everyone!

arsey, you're right of course.

the biggest issue (and the reason for all the overthinky hand-waving up there) is that I intend to nip my selfsabotaging tendencies in the bud. I've fucked up some opportunities in the past -- although they haven't been this appropriate to my skills, and the organisations weren't as supportive plus I hadn't reached a point in my career development where I was psychologically ready. Bottom line is that I am deeply opposed to screwing up this particular one due to how much I like the company and the guy I'm working for. I have already done a fair amount of growth in the old how-to-avoid the whole perfectionism/fear of failure/procrastination death spiral of paralytic indecision that I tend to get onto.

I talked to AwesomeBoss a bit about this on Friday during the whole negotiation deal, and I told him that in order to take this on and not have it be a shit show, I want some continuing-education stuff. It sounds like the company is fine with this, I just have to make sure I work with HR to pick a program and follow up.

The best thing about our work relationship is how well we relate. We're roughly the same age, with similar deeply insecure slacker-perfectionist backgrounds (we tend to joke about how much our early careers resembled a Kevin Smith film), and he's done a great deal to help me through some of my own insecurity triggers, because they're the same ones he has. The best thing about working for this guy is that he is so kind and forgiving, yet you never get the sense that he's a pushover or will let someone else ride roughshod over the department. He worries about being an asshole, and yet he's quite good at getting people to get stuff done even when (and especially when) they don't want to.

As much as my boss has been my biggest mentor and cheerleader, I also like Ardiril's recommendation to find an on-site mentor. I might even have a shortlist of individuals to help with that if HR is amenable.

The big plus is that I have some realistic, clearcut goals for the whole How to Fix the Utter Clusterfuck That Is Our Department Records deal (I mean seriously, the only thing that'd make it worse at this point would be a fire, and honestly that wouldn't be all bad) so building on that will likely give me an inkling of how to proceed outward to the site as a whole.

Tomorrow morning my first priority is to get cracking on applying for a notary license. After that I'll work on the rest.

you all are awesome. Thanks for your patience with my venting. I feel like I've had to be so with it and competent for so many people these past couple of weeks it's good to be able to whine a little.
posted by lonefrontranger 16 November | 17:08
lfr, I am coming to this late, and you've gotten great feedback so far, but I want to put a couple cents worth in.

First off, I realize how overwhelming an offer can be, and since it's a permanent thing with the company willing to invest in you, it can seem daunting to live up to their perceived expectations. I do know your own expectations far exceed anything they'll have of you, so you'll have to live up to, and live with yourself. If you can do that, then you'll be walking down easy street. The fact that you asked for the continuing education thing is absolute evidence of that. You continually advertise yourself as a slacker, but you're hardly that. You're one of the most intelligent, intense, curious, and focussed people I know. If you decide to do something, you're going to be one of the best ever at it. The fact that you're coming to (in your words) fix a fucked up situation works in your favor. Any little thing you do to improve it is going to seem 10 fold better to others.

I recently was awarded a new job at my own place of work, and I started in with the same kind of trepidation you are having now. I was afraid that I'd fuck up the first things I worked on, and totally alienate everyone. My new job is in support of people I used to work with, and the last thing I want to do is to become an idiot in front of my friends/workmates. Good thing was that I've done well, and have exceeded expectations in spite of my worries. You'll do much better than I, I'm sure.

So congratulations on your permanent job, and your new real career! You've worked hard a long time to get here, and it's about time someone rewarded you with what you're due. I can think of no one else more deserving than you are. Too many places judge a person on their qualifications rather than their skills, and finally someone has picked you based on your skills. You're going to kick ass, and they're going to love you. Do your best, and you'll be a success. You're full of awesome right now!

posted by eekacat 16 November | 23:10
Well, I too can relate here. I recently won a new job managing our unit (~35 peeps all up), after applying for it simply to prevent a certain person getting it (I was exhorted by several team members to "take one for the team" by applying, to stack the short-list and exclude this certain candidate). I even managed to beat the incumbent - a great guy with over 20 years experience in this area (I'm now his boss, which is somewhat awkward).

How does this mean I can relate? I'm scared shitless and, even after a month or so, have serious doubts that I can really do this job. Everyone else seems to think I can, though. My boss called out from her office a week or so ago "I'm so glad I've got you in that office now and can feel confident that, if the sky falls while I'm away, there is someone there who can catch it", which surprised the hell out of me, to say the least. She has given me a list of strategies she wants developed and implemented through 2009 and has just left me to do it pretty much any way I want. People come to me with questions, I give them answers and they go away happy. Problems come up, I solve them and sometimes everyone is happy, sometimes not, but the problem goes away. I've started a couple of initiatives that have gone over really well and, so far, I don't seem to have fucked up very badly at all. For some bizarre reason, this doesn't seem to surprise anyone except me. I've also just gone through the 360 degree feedback thing, so it will be interesting to see what comes back from that (ours is anonymous - nobody knows who gave the feedback and I get to keep the report to myself if I want, or share it with whoever I want - the level of trust just feels odd, to me). I also have absolutely no formal education beyond flunking high school.

My point is that, while you may not think you can do this, other people clearly do and they most likely have a better idea of your real capacity than you do of your own. Even if this seems like more than you can swallow, bite it off and chew like fuck. You'll get it down just fine.
posted by dg 17 November | 03:53
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