Tell 'em what I took, man!

Reflections of a repatriated ex-patriot

Monday, October 16, 2006

If at first you don't succeed . . .

I got over the hump last Friday, and obliterated the 70-291 Server Infrastructure test with a score of 920! I was meticulous in going over the practice tests provided in the CD that comes with the Microsoft Press text book in addition to reviewing a host of other materials provided to me by my mentor. Additionally, I did a lot of supplemental reading from other texts included in the course website. I found the text, MCSA/MCSE Exam 70-291: Implementing, Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure Study Guide (Syngress Publishing 2003) to be a MUCH more informative an interesting read than the robotic drivel churned out in the Microsoft Press study guide. As such, I'm determined to read whatever preperatory text they have for the 70-293 exam from cover to cover before registering to take it.

As a result of the last accomplishment I'm more than halfway done now with the MCSE certification. Whether or not this is going to translate into a worthwhile investment remains to be seen, but I know I've seen a lot of job postings that specifically mention this credential as a prerequisite or at least an attractive supplement to experience.

And speaking of experience . . .

It's noteworthy that I've failed to mention so far in any of my postings what it is that I do, and what, if any, relationship this might have to my stated objective of becoming a network administrator. The reason for the ommission is that at the time I came home from from overseas and started working, I was extremely paranoid that any mention of the company I was working for on a personal site might constitute a breach of the non-disclosure agreement I had signed. Also, I'd probably be much more likely, if I started blogging about my job to do what most people inevitably do when they start talking about work, to bitch and bitch and bitch. But, I'd heard horror stories about people who'd been fired from their jobs for complaining about working conditions there on blogs or myspace acounts. So I decided to just stay away from the issue entirely.

But no more . . .

Seeing that I no longer work at the position mentioned above I'm at liberty to present to you my list of gripes and bitter wounds suffered from slaving away for 'the man':

From late January of this year to late September I was working as a contractor for ExxonMobil as a clerical assistant hired on for what was initially a six month project. The project consisted of archiving producing property well sales and prepping these documents for shipment to offsite storage. It was an easy job, as admin contract assignments usually are, and towards the end of it I was even moved into my own office, a rare treat for such a peon job title.

All in all I really can't complain too much about the position, but I will say the department I was in is full of fossils, some of whom can't control their bowels. Initially I was sat caddy-corner to this one guy who made no attempt to control his rampant flatulance. No joke. I'd be sitting there and it would be real quiet, and then out of nowhere 'BRAAAAAAAAAAP!' like a cruise ship was coming in to dock.

I also found that my manager was forgetful and unfocused, often blaming myself and another coworker for mistakes she had made. She was hypocritical too, deriding me for coming in late a few times when she herself was consistently late the whole time I was there. Conflicts were really rare, however, so I don't want to present the impression that it was a hostile environment. Really, I got away with murder most of the time. My co-contractor and I would sometimes go into vacant conference rooms to play hackeysack for a good fifteen minutes at a time in addition to taking far more smoke breaks than we had been allowed. Not to mention the fact that all I did was study or surf the internet the vast majority of the time. But my colleague was no different. What set us apart was his constant interaction with boss. He even went so far to go out with the boss and her husband one night to prove that even though he was a white boy, he could shake that thang with the rest of the brothahs. It was at this point that I new favoritism had set in, and if there was going to be a decision as to who was going to stay and who was going to go, it was gonna be me.

I just wish I would have had a little more warning. I called in on a Tuesday morning a couple weeks ago to say that I wasn't going to come in because I was sick, which was true. My boss showed real concern in her wish for me to get better, and didn't seem to be upset in the least by my abscence. Then about two minutes after I hung up, the temp agency called me to say that my manager had had a meeting the previous day with her boss, and they had concluded that the project was nearing completion and therefore ExxonMobil (which had made a record 36 billion dollars in the summer quarter) could no longer afford to have two contractors working on the project. It would have been nice to at least finish out the rest of the week.

But who cares because I found another job, an open-ended temp assignment at Royal Dutch Shell, just a few days after being let go. This one is slightly more related to the networking industry as it involves the retention of records in Outlook for the litigation department. My hope is that such experience will help to better understand the function of Microsoft Exchange Server in terms of remote access, security, deployment, retention of records, etc.

I'll keep you informed of further developments . . .