So the first day on the job was very interesting.

Started off with sitting in on a conference call where they went over the second 12 page NDA-Plus-We-Own-Your-Soul contract that I had to sign a half-hour before I actually arrived at the new job. Met the good folks on the team I’ll be working with, looks like I’m the old man on the crew again, got a couple of tours of the facility which is very assembly line in its approach to what it’s doing. Got settled into my desk, or what passes for my desk—a couple of folding tables set up in the corner, but I can’t complain because that’s pretty much what everyone has for a desk and it works—and was promptly asked by one of my new coworkers if I had much Linux experience. I said that my webhosts have all been Linux based and that I’ve monkeyed around with it, but that I wasn’t an expert. “You will be by the time you leave.” was the reply. Which, in all honesty, would be absolutely fabulous.

In order to be able to better support the machines I’ll be responsible for they had me sit down and learn exactly what it is they do. This is where this entry gets tricky because of the NDA. I’m not allowed to directly identify the company I’m contracted to or any of the details of what their process involves. According to the training video I sat through, complete with an annoyingly named cartoon monkey that could only be dreamed up by the tortured souls in the pits of a hellish marketing department, the answer I’m supposed to give when I’m asked what I do for a living is as follows: “I work for a temporary agency scanning documents for a major corporation.” They actually had a quiz after the training video in which this was an actual question. So I can say that it involves scanning of documents and that’s about it. Except that, other than this first night on the job, I’m not scanning documents at all. I’m providing technical support on the machines for the people who scan the documents. Even given that little bit of info you’d have to be living under a rock for the past couple of years to not know who it is I’m contracted to, but I can neither confirm nor deny it. As the young woman I sat for an hour and a half and watched work told me at one point, “When you say that to someone who knows what city you’re working in the first thing they say to you is: Oh, you work at [REDACTED]!” Except, you know, she said the actual company name that I’m not allowed to say except to coworkers.

Honestly, I find this whole cloak and dagger NDA stuff to be pretty funny and damned amusing to comply with. They even have an email address for us blogger types so we can send them any entries about work that we may be worried violate the NDA for a second opinion on if it’s OK if we put it up on our blogs. The reason for the secrecy is two-fold: First, the project is somewhat controversial and there’s plenty of people out there—authors and free information types—that aren’t that happy about it. Second, there’s at least one other (that I know of) competing project out there that may be interested in learning more about how this company is going about the project. So I can understand why they’re so guarded about it and I don’t have a problem with complying with the NDA, but it’s certainly a new experience for me.

So anyway, I had to sit down and learn how the document scanning folks do their thing and then I had to sit down at a station and do some of it myself. They have some test materials for training purposes and they had me go through the whole process for about an hour and a half to get a taste of what it’s like. Near the end my boss came over and started randomly yanking cords out of my machine so it would give me error messages that might come up for an operator. He was enjoying that part entirely too much, but it did give me a feel for what some of the common problems were going to be most of which they already provide operator instructions on how to fix, but which might result in me being asked to take a look at the workstation. I will say this about the workstations themselves: How they do what they do is exceptionally clever. There’s a definite challenge to the documents they’re scanning and the solution was very cool, but I can’t say anything more about that.

The rest of the evening was spent restaging the two laptops I’ll be using on the job. One is a personal laptop for use in day-to-day stuff like email, document writing, and messing around with to learn stuff on. I’m encouraged to mess with it quite a bit, restage it often, take it home, and so on. The other laptop is the one that will be used for the serious work stuff which requires it to be very secure. Both are running a very popular distro of Linux, one that I’ve talked about not too long ago actually, but I’m not sure if I’m actually allowed to name it so I’ll hold off for now. If you’re a regular then you probably have a good idea already. I didn’t get a chance to do much configuring of either machine yet as they day simply flew by and before I knew it it was time to go home.

So far so good and the rest of this week looks to be very intense as we get into the nitty gritty of what the job will entail. One bit of good news is that I’m allowed to blog from work during any downtime so I’ll be able to get the occasional entry up. Downtime may be scarce for awhile, however, as they work to get me ready to be on a shift on my own. It looks like after this week I may be on the mid-shift, however, which has a large overlap with the first and second shifts so my solo-time would be minimal for awhile. It’s definitely going to be a huge learning experience that should expand my skill set considerably if I’m there the entire two years of the contract. I’ve definitely got a good feeling about this job and am very happy I managed to land it.

18 thoughts on “So the first day on the job was very interesting.

  1. Everything you have not described sounds absolutely awesome!  Again, congrats!!! smile

  2. 20 minutes on Google, and I’m still none the wiser as to who you work for. Congratulations anyway, someone with your talents shouldn’t be unemployed.

  3. guys this is my first post after the car crash that i had , i missed commenting on the blog but i was making the nurse read it every day , les congrats on your new job since it sounds real good and good luck in your career.

  4. Reminds me of a construction site I worked on a couple of years ago. They were remodeling an existing building, so they had to tear down the perimeter fence for construction access. That required a 24/7 guard with top secret security clearance. It was so secret that the guard was not allowed to secure the perimeter with binoculars. DUH
    And, congratulations.

  5. They actually had a quiz after the training video in which this was an actual question. So I can say that it involves scanning of documents and that’s about it.

    Then why say more on your first day?

    Honestly, I find this whole cloak and dagger NDA stuff to be pretty funny and damned amusing to comply with. They even have an email address for us blogger types so we can send them any entries about work that we may be worried violate the NDA for a second opinion on if it’s OK if we put it up on our blogs.

    For some companies NDAs are more CYAs, for others there’s nothing funny about them. My unsolicited advice is to assume the latter.

    In a previous life, I used to work for a company that’s also a well-known defense contractor and we had to code-name the clients. I guess that’s par for the course when the higher-ups in the division are ex-intelligence.

  6. I can think of many reasons why a company would need to scan a buttload of documents and would need to keep them confidential But in the interest of not messing up Les’ good fortune, I suggest we can the speculation and just stick to congratulations.  The bosses might not be able to tell the difference between comments and posts.

    Congratulations Les!

  7. Les, how many decades or eons does the NDA hold you to secrecy?

    Cheers and good luck with the new job. I agree that all the NDA stuff sounds rather much like a pain, but at the same time it sounds like it might be a good job – so have fun!

  8. Sounds similar to the “God save the Queen” address we are given in Canada.  Congratulations on finally getting what sounds like a great career opportunity.

  9. Thanks everyone, but this won’t be a long-time gig. The contract is limited to two years maximum so I can’t afford to rest on my laurels too long. This is a step up and an opportunity to learn a bunch of new stuff to enhance my skill set. I should be pretty good at Linux by the time the contract ends if I stick around for the full two years. It’s not like I won’t be looking around for even better opportunities while I’m there though.

    My only real concern is I’m not sure how the NDA will impact my ability to describe my job on my resume. That’s something I’ll need to consult with my contract house about.

  10. Somebody who hasn’t posted here in a while has a gap of roughly ten years in his resume for reasons more stringent than a contractual NDA—if you get my drift.

    IANAL, but you can certainly name the contract house and you should be able to describe what you did without giving away proprietary information. At worst, you’ll have to state that the client’s name is confidential…

  11. Congrats then Les, I’m glad to hear that you landed a “good” contract. I hope that after two years you manage to get an even better position. And I don’t doubt that, when the time comes, you’ll eventually figure out how to “capitalize” on the experiences without revealing anything too “G”ood. Best of luck.

  12. I’m going to get in deep trouble for this, but Les is scanning documents for {$##af3249y

  13. Congratulations, Les. It sounds like you’re working for Computer Science Corp. They have a big document contract with General Dynamics (read ‘military’). They were working on me about six months ago to go to work for them because of my (scant) LINUX background, but the minute I found out it was an NDA, I blew ‘em off. But, I’m glad it’s working out for you.

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