Sounds like a cool band name, when in fact it describes my experience working an IT firm.
I had the great opportunity to temp at a world leading IT firm, a friendly and nurturing environment, social, and possessing an environmental consciousness and brilliant resources. Another first for me, and I dove in head first ready for the challenge. The job role itself was easy, but it was the ‘nerd culture’ that caught me unexpectedly… and I count myself as a big nerd!
In the first month, barely anyone looked up from their computer screens to make eye contact on an open-plan floor of around 200 workstations. If I approached, it was the soft tones that had me leaning in to ask ‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’ Most everyone was timid and focused on their monitor display. My personality is very social, all smiles and laughs, I like to wear bold colours and big earrings, and you will always find me in high heels. With bright red hair and a height of 5’8” I was designed to stick out – so I embrace it. Trying to hide or blend in only results in standing out even more: I end up looking awkward and uncomfortable.
In these beginning weeks the chief method of contact was IM, even though they were sitting two desks away. My co-workers, fiercely shy, and not something I am used to dealing with en masse. Was this towering ginger really that imposing? I was perplexed at their refusal to approach my desk and ask me face to face. I’d occasionally do a mirror check to ensure there wasn’t anything stuck in my teeth that was scaring everyone away.
Like High School everyone was dressed in the same uniform – trousers, business shirts and v-neck sweaters with nary a hair product in sight. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not passing judgment on their appearance, but from working in creative fields for so long, this it was quite a juxtaposition. My co-workers were astoundingly intelligent and once I had broken the ice and gotten to know them all – also hilarious…I just needed time to get to know them, and for them to acclimate to my loud personality.
A running joke on our floor was that my presence was like that of the character Lucy Liu portrayed in Charlies Angels infiltrating a computer company: a mash up of dominatrix and efficiency expert. Its funny how other people see you; I was worried I kept interrupting important work with my menial administration requests.
I love temping, meeting new people, and experiencing different industries. The social dynamics in each workplace always surprises me: there is always something new, something exciting. But I have discovered that since the days wandering the halls of my Secondary College, the fully-fledged nerd status has waned. I’m going to have to turn in my membership card and be content to use a guest pass every now and then.
By the end of my stay at this workplace I’d celebrated Star Wars day; and learnt to yowl like Chewbacca; partook in cosplay; and discussed the pros and cons of integrating your home network to make your abode a sort of smart house. I miss working there; it had me hinkering for the days teaching Year 11 and 12’s.
It is great to see that nerd power is still alive and kicking… and slowly leading the world into a new era of technology.
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