Lightwave Interview Part One

I got a call to interview with our Lightwave division up on the hill this week. So I showed up at eleven this morning at the other site. Eleven in the morning might as well be three in the morning for me, since I work swingshift I usually sleep until two in the afternoon before getting up to start my day. If I have to get up early for any reason, no matter what it is, I am angry at the world. Potatohead doesn’t know what I’m up to yet. He will probably get a call from some manager in Lightwave announcing that I am being interviewed for numerous jobs here and I know it’s going to piss him off. Should happen in the next couple of days. Can’t wait to see the look on his face when he finds out.

Whoever set up my interview at Lightwave told me to show up at a specific time and go to Building 1 upper floor, then find a marked column in a hallway. I have to tell you, that’s fucked up. We normally don’t do shit like that. Usually when a person is scheduled for an interview you have somebody to go meet and talk with for a while in a cubicle somewheres. When I arrived in Building 1 and scrounged around for a non-descript post holding up the ceiling I stood around and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Employees walking by looked at me like I was some kind of misplaced obsolete test equipment. Partially I received attention because of the flashy shirt I was wearing. I chose the red and black bowling shirt Autumn bought me on our trip to San Diego for today’s job fishing extravaganza.

Thirty minutes passed and no one showed up. So I walked over to the nearest production area and I swiped one of their chairs. I dragged it out into the middle of the hallway and plunked myself down in it. By this time I was angry. What kind of shoddy organization invites an employee up to interview for filling a position they desperately needed help with and leaves them to rot in a hallway? Apparently Lightwave does.

Fourty five minutes passed. Still no contact person or escort. That was when it hit me. Observing the rushed employees scurrying about this floor of Building 1 I recognized many of them as chronic non-performers we had back in the PC board division years ago, problem employees from the Microcircuit department, and total fuckups from some of the instrument lines. That really worried me. Perhaps the management here in this division was lacking. Only one way to find out, I thought.

Before I continue I should probably explain a little bit about Lightwave test instrument products in comparison to the test instruments I have been working on for the past few years. Currently I work on RF/Microwave wireless laboratory test instruments. The industry appilcations of RF/Microwave boxes are anything from Aerospace and Defense to making a simple cell phone. You need to test and troubleshoot a deep space satellite? No problem. You buy the boxes I build and test. You need to tune a radar array on a F-16 fighter? We got you covered. Designing a new breed of cell phone? We have the instrument that will get you there. That’s what I do. Lightwave on the other hand produces Fiber Optic test and measurement boxes mainly for broadband communications. So there’s some overlap and competition there between our two product divisions, but it’s not direct competition. It’s more like industry competition, I guess. For example both kinds of instruments can be used in telecommunications but they are completely different from an application standpoint. One of my power meters might measure signal strength in decibels, but a Lightwave power meter would measure signal strength in laser nanometers. Where our wireless units transmit signals internally through metal cables, Lightwave boxes transmit signals through precision lenses and optics. Very different breed of test instruments from ours.

Sitting impatiently for someone to come pick me up I became more agitated. A crowd of ten or so people entered the hallway and walked towards where I was sitting delibrately blocking access to a coffee station. When they reached me a red haired guy with neatly trimmed moustache introduced himself as Tom and apologized for keeping me waiting so long. He said they were terribly behind schedule. Whatever. I stood up and shook his hand while the others looked on. Tom informed me we were being taken to the cafeteria for lunch on the company dime before interviews were going to take place. Great.

If I wasn’t really angry before, I was now. See, working the swingshift schedule I don’t eat breakfast until after 5pm every day. I can’t handle food this early and I wasn’t here for a free lunch, dammit. I was here to shop for a new job and head back to my division to work on time. That’s all. I asked Tom if this was the way Lightwave handled their interview process. “We’ve had groups of employees here every day for weeks and we always start off with lunch.” I smelled company abuse taking place. If a group of managers here were scheduling this stuff around their lunch time every day they were getting a free ride on grub bigtime. Average lunches in the cafeteria cost six bucks. Multiply two or three supervisors by five days at six bucks for weeks and the dollar amount adds up fast, and it’s even worse if you figure in ten hopeful employees along with them every day.

So we were marched to the cafeteria. More of my time was being wasted. I couldn’t eat anything, the only thing I bought with their lunch voucher was a shitty cup of coffee in protest. I rejoined my group at a table and listened to the mindless banter. Nothing work related was being said. No questions from other candidates about the work they did here or what they liked about it. Just pure trivial crap. After a few minutes I’d had enough of it and I asked a question of Tom and his supervisor counterpart, a dingbat bleached blonde woman that looked too young to manage a product line. I asked them, “I notice here in Lightwave all your entry positions are 92 level. Why?” Here at Bill and Dave’s company we have jobs broken down by generic skill levels. An entry-level job for someone who has never worked in electronics before would be conisdered a level 91 job. The skill scale goes from level 91 to level 96 for most hourly wage workers in assembly, technical, and production administrative jobs. So an entire product division starting all entry level jobs at the 92 mark was odd. Neither Tom or the dingbat blonde answered me. So I asked them again, and I was brushed off. I sat quietly watching ten people scarf down lousy cafeteria cooked food angrily waiting to leave and get down to business.

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~ by factorypeasant on October 28, 2005.

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