The Nine Faces of Dave
resolution and insight
The Monday after I spoke with the internship coordinator, my
boss came back to work. That day the division chief talked
to him about my situation (I guess the story did get itself
propagated up the chain of command after all). And then, in
the afternoon, my boss talked to me.
Now I was a little scared that he might view this as "going
over his head" or something like that. Whether that fear is
justified in this case is irrelevant; I've found it to be an
inherent property in any layered bureaucracy that when some
issue gets propagated up, a shitstorm is likely to propagate
Fortunately he wasn't bent out of shape about it, or if he
was it didn't show. But we did both find out a few rather
interesting bits of information; he found out that I'd been
floating directionless for three weeks, and I found out that
he'd been thinking I was working on something, alone, which
everyone else seemed to think was a team effort.
So all this wasted time was the result of a colossal failure
to communicate. Furthermore, this project was something far
beyond my ability to do alone, even if I did have the skills
and technical knowledge to do it. And on top of that, this
project was supposed to be integrated with some things other
people were working on, and no decisions had been made about
how exactly to do that, which would have halted my progress
even if everything else had been smooth sailing.
Long story short, I got assigned to a related project being
done within the group, and while we haven't gotten a whole
hell of a lot done yet, there's at least some direction to
things, I don't feel like I'm flying totally blind, and the
others on this project are actually around and generally can
make some sort of decision about how things are going to be.
Now there's a couple more non-project-related things I found
out, giving me a little insight into the organizational ops
and how they function:
1) My boss is evidently not the same guy who brought me on
board in the first place, since he was under the impression
I either was a grad student or already had a masters, and
2) All available evidence suggests that the only reason he's
actually listed as my advisor is because he's the one who
had to secure the funding for my time here.
Needless to say this has shaken my faith in the bureaucracy
just a little.
One other thing that transpired, which makes an interesting
little story if nothing else:
This past Friday, the 8th, I found myself helping one of the
other interns a bit with her project. She's a Mech.E. major
and I'm CS, and she was having issues with C programming so
she asked me about it. It was a simple fix, just a little
problem with array declarations which took no time at all to
get cleared up, but I found it amusing that for her project
she'd written a tremendous amount of code, working largely
without the background to really do so, and I had written
What does it tell you about the way things work when the one
CS major, out of all the summer interns in that lab, is also
the only one who doesn't seem to be writing any code?