Sunday, September 23, 2007

Suckered in

I've managed thus far to resist most social networking things online, not because I'm a luddite (PLEASE don't tell anyone THAT nastly little secret) but because I just wasn't into it - I have mentioned earlier that I have enough problems keeping up with physical friends, let alone virtual ones. But on the advice of someone I respect (I have to stop following this girl's advice, I think) I signed up to Facebook.

Yeeha! It's fun! So many people...but this blog isn't meant to be just about fun things, so I'll take a professional view of this.

The first question that occurs to me is whether Facebook can legitimately be used in the workplace. I've heard tell of teams using it, but I'm not sure how. I guess it could be cool if you have a team of people spread across different locations, do they use Facebook for work? Surely just knowing that someone is online doesn't do much. So how is it used? Any comments would be appreciated!

This leads me to the second issue - blocking access to websites from work. Being all about free flow of information, I'm generally against any kind of blocking, regardless of what it is. I also kind of feel that if you can't trust your staff not to waste all their time chatting online to their friends, then you have a staff management issue - either they don't have enough work to do or they don't want to do the work they do have. Facebook isn't the problem.

At my current POW, Facebook is blocked, as are any websites that are based predominately on blog software. So I can't, for instance, read my own blog from work. Okay, not such a big deal, right? Well, yes, it is. I also can't access the website for the Information Online conference, or the Library Association of Ireland, because they're using blog software in their websites. I'm just a temp, but if I envisaged my future there, these things would bug me.

It wasn't too long ago that most people had mobile phone numbers blocked in their workplace - some still do, which amazes me (I've got a friend who's in a pretty senior position at State Transit, and she can't call any of her client's mobile numbers - it's insane). Personally I was never in that situation because I was working in a call centre, and we needed to call all kinds of numbers. But I'm thinking blogs are the new mobile phone numbers - organisations are trying to block access to them because they're not seeing how they can be used professionally, but this will obviously have to change as more and more professional websites introduce blog software.

Have any of my readers ever had to justify the removal of blocks on websites in their workplace? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bitten by the study bug

I always knew this would happen. Once I'd finished my second round of tertiary studies (my library grad. dip.) I was pleased as punch, and very happy to get my life back - but I still knew I'd go back to more study at some point. Maybe it's a generational thing. I've read that "our generation" tends to see study as something that you dip in and out of, rather than get out of the way early in life.

For some time now I've been vaguely interested in doing an MBA - I like management, I like planning and strategy and marketing and people management and communication and yes, even budgeting. When I think about the jobs I've loved and what I've loved about them, it's often the management aspects. So it kind of makes sense that I would consider further study in that area.

On Tuesday I went to a Postgraduate and MBA Expo at Town Hall, where a bunch of different unis were on hand to tell me all about their MBA programmes. And it was fantastic. I'm so eager. I want to start right now! I got to talk to them about workloads, I got to look at some lecture notes and assignment questions and readings and it all seemed interesting and achievable.

I'm eager to study externally. I like the freedom and because I'm ultimately a nerd I love the way you can work ahead. And I want to study with an institution that only offers the course externally, because then we're all on an even footing. When I did my grad dip externally I felt as though the course was delivered to the internal students, and there were these other people off to the side. The other advantage I noticed is that the courses that are delivered only through external study are priced accordingly - i.e. they are much cheaper. So it's become quite affordable.

I came away with a shortlist, and I think I've picked my institution - University of New England. They have good ratings, the flexibility I want, external delivery, and a decent library. It took me a moment to notice that one of the providers I was considering - Chifley Business School - didn't have a library. The rep at the expo tried to use that as a selling point - "they provide you with all the reading material you need!" - but to me that says that they're not giving graduates information seeking skills. How often in business will you get every piece of information you need delivered into your mailbox? Seems kind of unrealistic to me. So I stood up for the library, and struck them off my list.

There don't seem to be many MBAs in library land, and I'm not sure if that will work for or against me. Either I'll have an edge over other applicants for management positions, or I'll be terribly over qualified. But I have to admit that despite my recent crisis of faith being dealt with, I do like the idea of having a qualification that can be recognised outside of library land. And, oh golly, the average graduate starting salary? Ahem. Somewhat higher than that of library graduates. From a purely financial point of view, that is one fine investment.

So hooray to being a student again!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A few of my favourite things

It occurs to me that I've not actually written much in this blog about temping - ostensibly what the blog's meant to be about. So, based on hardly any experience at all (when has that ever stopped me?) here are some of my favourite things about temping:

I'm not the most responsible person in the room. It is not my responsibility to find solutions to major problems facing my current place of work. It is my responsibility to do the job I'm being paid for, do it well, and if I have any suggestions, great. But those long term problems that every workplace has? Not my responsibility.

I don't have to play pretend. I don't have to pretend like I will be around in 5 years time. I don't have to hide the fact that I'm looking for other work. And I don't have to hide the fact that I don't want to work somewhere on a permanent basis. My contract has an end date and we're all happy with that.

I get to be more flexible. This is the comment that I'll probably regret when I'm not quite so green and naive, but so far despite the lack of paid leave it's been easier to get time off when I need it. Perhaps it's something about the fact that they're not having to pay me when I'm not there. Perhaps it's to do with the workload in this particular role. And perhaps it's the very simple infrastructure in place that allows me to be paid only for the hours I work, which means that if I want time off, I just don't get paid - we don't have to faff around with accrued leave and time in lieu.

I get to learn new things. Again, possibly one of those things I"ll get really sick of, but I feel like I'm learning more now than I have in a long time. And they're not earth-shattering skills - just new things, new resources, new procedures, new people that one has to find ways of working with. I'm finding it very refreshing, and I'm already looking forward to the next new place with all it's idiosyncrasies.

For some time I've been considering undertaking further study - specifically, and MBA. I'm going to a Postgraduate and MBA Expo on Tuesday where I get to speak to a whole room full of suppliers, which I'm hoping will help me make the decision of whether this would be a smart choice or a waste of substantial amounts of time and money.