My Day Job.

I’m stressed out. My job, it is stressful.

For some background: anytime someone asks me “What do you do?” I find the easiest thing to do is tell them that I have Chandler’s Job. In fact, they actually are probably the same job. People usually say, “… What was Candler’s job?” and I reply that is exactly the point; I have a generic knowledge-worker job, in a cubicle for a big company: the details aren’t so important in casual conversation.

My official title is “Information Manager” which is to say, I manage information. As anyone knows, information is the life blood of an organization: you need info to make decisions, you need info to move the process forward.

Let’s say you make a mistake. That’s bad. But not knowing how large the impact of the mistake will be? Well, that’s worse. You need information.

So I work for this company, for some real smarties. The best in the particular industry in which my company is known. I’ve learned a ton from them. I learn new stuff every day, without exception.

I actually started there as a temp back in 2004. Doing data entry. I had just left Educom and was basically getting paid the same money to do like, 30% of the work, and 20% of the thinking.

They had a Rube Goldberg style setup for getting data from the client’s system to ours. It wasn’t really my job, but I somehow took ownership of getting this process more organized. Ultimately, this extra work made it easier for me and the 10 other temps on the team to actually do the work and get stuff done. Since so many hands were touching the process, a single person (me, by default) had to exert constant vigilance on the process to ensure we were meeting our deliverables and that nothing “got lost in the cracks” or whatever we used to say back then.

To keep track of it all, I made my very first Excel spreadsheet. I was 24 years old and had never used Excel. Ahem. I spent a good deal of time in that file, made it look nice, made it easy to read. I basically applied anything I knew from web development (most of which wasn’t applicable, but still)

Since the process to which I was attached was under some scrutiny by the client, I was involved in some meetings or conversations with folks that normally wouldn’t “deal” with a temp. During the course of reviewing the process with the client and my superiors, someone recognized that I was doing all this extra organizing, and they moved me to a team of people just like me: anal retentive, detail oriented, and technically inclined. The Information Management Team. The guy in charge of the team took a chance on me, I’ll admit, since I didn’t really have much on paper to show anyone the things of which I was capable.

I got started with Office. I had never used Access before, so I grabbed some basic survival skills. Same with Excel, Word. In web development, these weren’t really file formats I had used, nor software I had needed. Also, I used Macs and anything Microsoft just felt icky to me. But now it was every day stuff. Within a year, I had a reputation for being “that guy” to go to when you have an Excel or Office question.

Over the past 7 years there, I’ve been promoted, gotten raises, moved between 4 major clients. Between 2006 and 2010, I’ve built reports covering over $150 Million. In 2010 alone, I reported on $60 Million.

So the stress. Back to the stress.

Lately, on any given workday, I receive maybe two or four ad-hoc report requests. This is in addition to the normal day to day tasks that constitute my job. Weekly and daily regular reports, monthly stuff that takes a ton of time, year-end summaries, ENDLESS slide decks, conference calls, emails, traveling to the client’s onsite location, etc.

I interact with third party vendors and perform a QC on information that they feed back to us. If anything is wrong, I have to go back to them for conflict resolution. I report on their ability to meet goals set by our client.

We’re also at a particularly sensitive time of the year where we focus heavily on meeting market share commitments to certain preferred partners in the marketplace. I refresh a projection in service of this at least once a day, though often twice or more.

I also conduct QC on our internal team and the data they influence.

And there’s always a random project going on. A semi-annual or semi-quarterly internal team review. Internal task forces get assigned frequently to tackle larger issues or organizational problems in the process.

Oh and add to all this: a common misconception is that I work in IT. I do not; it’s just a coincidence that I have the word “Information” in my title, and also that I’m a giant computer nerd and love to know how stuff works. Something that occurs quite frequently is that as soon as someone knows I’m “good with a computer”, they immediately ask me to do something that is not really my job.

So, all this stress? I’m going on vacation. Far, far away. We leave this Friday. Can’t wait.

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