Is that, like a Yogurt Thing?

What, praytell, is company culture?

Some Human Resources resources tell you not to mention “company culture” in interviews. It’s ambiguous. It (like everything else) can be construed as discriminatory (“young”, “fun”…what about everyone else?). It confuses the hell out of people.

D, a friend from college, mentioned, in an off-hand comment (3 months ago, over a half-hour Game of Thrones board game) that the company culture in the division where he works (in an organization that is known for excellent company culture) is bad. I haven’t been able to follow up, but his comment sticks with me. Partly because I’m not 100% sure what it means, partly because I know (without knowing specifics) that I wish it were stronger.

On a related vein, A (one of my co-workers) and I got to talking about “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) back when we were interviewing applicants to become Blue Engine Teaching Assistants.

“That show? It’s LEGEN (wait for it) DARY!”, A had said (something along those lines).

“You know it’s based on a bar in Manhattan, right?” I had asked (also paraphrased, but less so).

In a rare concession to New York tourism, we decided to watch HIMYM on Mondays (when it airs) AND to watch it at McGee’s, the bar that MacLaren’s (the bar in the show) is based on (SPOILER: the only thing that’s the same is the downstairs mural that no one notices until they’re upstairs and wondering what the 2 bars have in common. Still an amazing bar, though.).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this attempt at company culture is the things that didn’t go as expected.

The 1st time we went, there was a hockey game playing instead of “HIMYM”. Oops. But people showed up. We ate curry fries (One of McGee’s specialties, per Foursquare).

The 2nd time, HIMYM was on a break. Oops. Only A and I showed up (“You’re still coming…right?” A had texted me 45 minutes before). We ate curry fries and caught up on spring break, things at school, and the coming school year.

Today, we made sure to check schedules. Twice. I got there early (in a rare display of “planning ahead”). Tables were full. We stood the whole time. I forgot my credit card. McGee’s accidentally put on a hockey game 30 seconds into the show. The tourists next to me kept trying to steal our seats. We didn’t find “that door”.

But people showed up. We got to catch up with co-workers (new sites, student reaction to this article on diversity in the NYC public school system). We ate curry fries (Have mentioned that I only do what Foursquare tells me to do?).

Will this develop into something more? Not sure. The season is over. Schools are ramping up to end-of-year testing. A and I have other things to worry about next year. 

But for now, we’ll have the experience of trying to make something happen. Oh, and the curry fries.

Things I did today:

  • Pulled numbers for a grant
  • Drafted the new bio page for our next year of BETAs (!)
  • Stalked the Facebook group for next year’s BETAs (can’t believe it’s already time to prepare for next year)
  • Did horribly on the Parris Foundation’s Math Monday.
  • Started drafting a Twitter training plan (which I will make into a blog someday)
  • Read articles about diversity (see link above) and how many, many college grads graduate into debt. Yikes.

From the least political person EVER

I spent about ten minutes last night trying to decide if I actually wanted to watch the State of the Union. The part of me that wants to be more civically engaged wanted to see the whole thing through (with subtitles and all) to “be there” “while the experience was happening” (I also wanted to see the education part). The part of me that’s trying to be more productive and fit 30 hours into 24 said to turn the SOTU on in the living room, work in the bedroom (I did the same thing with the Niners game on Sunday. They lost), read the speech online afterwards and catch the highlights on YouTube.

I caved and watched the State of the Union. Was it worth it? As much as any speech can be, yeah. I liked the line about spilled milk. I think that we need to do a better job engaging students before we can demand that they stay in school until age 18 (if someone’s disengaged at 15, good luck getting them to stick around ’til 18. Journalist Dana Goldstein lays it out here). I think there were a lot of good calls to action and now we (the Royal We? The Collective We? Yeah.) need to make that happen.

Cool SOTU infographics here (Twitter) and here (keywords).

PS I’m not quite sure what this post says about me or my generation, but, hey, I never promised you a policy wonk blog, did I?

Things I Did At Work Today (To Be Explained in a Blog Later):

  • Added a table of comments and did madcap formatting to our employee handbook
  • Sat in on a bookkeeping call so that we can (finally) get our books in order
  • Called career centers to promote our Blue Engine Teaching Assistant position
  • Started running Twitter analytics