Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Assignment #284: First Day

I expect some of you have wondered where I've been all week, since I haven't blogged once in that time. Our latest Weekend Assignment provides part of the answer. I hope it will also provoke some fond or vivid memories for you:
Weekend Assignment: #284: Tell us about your first day of...well, anything, really. It could be your first day in school, your first day as a legal adult, your first day in a new town or dating that someone special - you get the idea. This time out I'm looking for tales of new experiences, not new possessions. (The latter was last week!)What made that particular day memorable for you?
Extra Credit: While you're at it, tell us about a last day as well.
Here comes a mini-shocker: today was my first day of work at a new job. It's only a temporary position, entering data and holding down the fort while the boss is overseas; but it's something. Among other things, it means I will earn more than the weekly unemployment benefit amount for the first time since that disastrous tax preparation job back in January.

I took this picture after lunch. John says the jacket's too big.

Today was supposed to be a sort of working audition for Small Hi-Tech Manufacturer (hereafter called SHM), in which my new boss could gauge whether I have enough of a working knowledge of two particular accounting programs to be useful to him, and cut me loose if I didn't measure up. I must not have done too badly, because I'm back at work this coming Monday.

As great as it was to finally land a job other than at St.Michael's, however temporarily, it was definitely a stressful day. First off, I was given the wrong address by my recruiter, and walked into the building where the company used to be, not where it is now. The tenants at the old place were very nice, calling SHM for the new address and directions, and printing me a map. The recruiter also called them, and explained that the snafu was his fault, not mine. But talk about starting off on the wrong foot! I was on the wrong mile!

Eager to do a good job, I built a cost comparison spreadsheet before lunch, but struggled just slightly with a version of Excel that doesn't seem to quite match the one at church, let alone the older version I use at home. Next, I set out to print a simple report in the accounting system the company wants me to help set up. There was no print preview, no printing, and no obvious way to fix the problem. I researched it for quite a while, but to no avail. To finish out the day, I entered vendor invoices, which actually went pretty well.

Thing is, I was brought in because I've worked with QuickBooks Pro and Epicor, the modest accounting program the company uses now and the versatile but expensive program being readied for use. And it's true that I've used both programs, but you'd hardly know it from my performance today. Not being a manufacturer or retailer, St. Michael's uses QuickBooks in a very different way from SHM. I'm not certain it's even the same version. And Epicor is a more extreme example of the variation between what I've used and what I'll be using. It's a several years newer version of the software I used from 2005 to 2007, configured for a very different industry and company size. It's not a hard program to use, but it's no longer nearly as familiar to me as it was, so I fumbled around a bit. I know I can and will learn it, but for today I felt like a bit of a fraud, promising a degree of competence with this programs that I could not for the moment deliver. Still, I did get the work done except for the printing glitch, and he knows I'm determined to get up to speed quickly. After all, he's leaving the country less than a week from now. I have to be ready!

Still, it wasn't a bad day at all. My new boss was very nice, and my co-workers were reasonably friendly. We even went out to lunch together, with the boss picking up the tab. I had a great low-carb meal, sticking to the regimen John and I started on almost two weeks ago. And on the job I'm learning new things, which should make me more employable even if the possible permanent job at SHM doesn't materialize. Overall it was a much more positive experience than my first day at Beaudry, as one of two other companies I could name but won't.

What last day shall I talk about? How about my last day at the somewhat larger manufacturer I temped for in the summer of 2oo8? I had finished the second big project assigned to me, and the person I'd been working with ran out of stuff for me to do. I ended up filing employee records most of the day for their new HR director. It was a fairly pleasant and low-key day, and when I wasn't working I was taking last-minute pictures of the gorgeous views outside - on my cell phone, because someone at church had accidentally taken my camera home with him the day before (long story).

How about you? What first day, good, bad or indifferent, will you never forget? Tell us about it in your blog, and please, please include a link back to this entry. I'll be back next Friday night with a roundup of your responses. Like this!

For Weekend Assignment #283: Major Purchase, I asked you to tell us about the last big thing you bought. Here are excerpts from the responses:

New participant Margaret (welcome!) said...

I am not an impulse buyer as some of my friends can attest to. I research until I am so confused that I give up, I wait a few days to mull over the options, I go back for a bit more research and then go for the buy, making sure to keep the receipt in case I change my mind. It took me about 3 weeks to decide on a macro lens and even then it took me many minutes to click the complete purchase button.

Julie said...

I think it must have been the laptop computer, which I purchased just about a year ago this month. I'd done some research, but probably spent a couple of hours at Fry's trying out different computers before I made my decision. The salesguy kept trying to talk me into a more expensive computer, but I wouldn't let him.

Florinda said in comments...

I don't think I can get this in as a blog post this week, so you'll get a longish comment instead. (The same thing will probably happen next week, due to my participation in Book Blogger Appreciation Week.)

Anyway...I think our last major purchase was my husband's new car, back in February. It was one we had to make in a hurry, after his old car was totaled in an accident, but he was ready and knew what he wanted. He's a car nut and is always reading up on them, so he'd done plenty of research and it came in handy.

We're kind of like you and John in how we approach these things. He does a lot of studying and is usually not in a hurry to make the purchase. I do enough research to know what's going on, and once we've decided what we want and have the funds worked out, I'm ready to go ahead and buy.

Enjoy the new TV, and I'm glad the claim finally went through (probably not as glad as you are, though)!

Mike said...

It didn't take too long to find a car we wanted, though we did change the vehicle type after our first round of searching. We starting off looking for a crossover/SUV, but after looking at a few we decided to replace Jenn's small sedan with a mid-size sedan. It made more sense. I'm not a big fan of SUVs myself and Jenn doesn't like to drive the station wagon we have, so I don't see her enjoy driving a bigger car.

That's it for now! Many thanks to Margaret, Florinda, Julie and Mike for their participation. If you're reading this (and you are), I hope you'll follow their example, and jump in with your own Weekend Assignment entry. Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate:

  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, September 18th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."

That's it! See you tomorrow night with my EMPS entry (finally!).



Florinda said...

I'm requesting a deadline extension on this one, if that's OK. I already have a couple of ideas for it, but because of my participation in Book Blogger Appreciation Week next Monday-Friday, I won't be able to get the post up. I'll have it first thing the following week, though (Monday 9/21).

Barbara said...

Congradulations on your job.

barrettmanor said...

Glad to hear you've found some employment! I'm stumped on this one as most "first days" I can think of are boring. I'll keep mulling it over in my mind.

Florinda said...

Thank you for the extension - here's my Assignment, as promised.