Sunday, January 29, 2006

K - O - O - K - Y

For those of you who don't know, I work at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and specifically, the Faculty of Medicine. The picture to the left is the UBC campus. Yes, it's surrounded by trees and water. UBC also happens to be located the western-most part of Vancouver. So it's a huge pain for me to drive to work as I have to transverse the entire city of Vancouver to get to work. And though you would put Vancouver on as part of the address, it's actually sitting on Indian land, go figure.

Last week, I went to the New Employee Orientation. There were about 50 people there. I cannot believe that there are only 50 new employees since the last one they held a few months ago. UBC is the second largest university in Canada (I'm guessing it's behind U of Toronto). There are 42,000 full-time students, 20,000 part-time students, and about 15,000 full-time and part-time staff (and this doesn't even include all the people they hire out on contract).

Needless to say UBC is one big-ass place.

I've actually been working there since May 2005, but only signed on as of late November 2005. So that's been eight months already. I have to say that I'm learning a lot about working at a university. Coming from the private sector, things work very differently in some respects.

Things I like about working at UBC:
  • Nice looking campus
  • The people are friendly
  • It's a university, so their primary mandate is education and research. This is cool as I feel that I am some how (mostly indirectly) a part of helping others with their education and research. I don't really do so now, but I will be in the future, helping out some of their research groups with their IT needs, and that in turn will facilitate their research.
  • Kick-ass benefits
  • As a campus, UBC has a lot of nooks and crannies that I've never been to, even when I was an undergraduate student here all those years ago. I plan on doing some exploration of the campus when the weather improves
Things I don't like about UBC:
  • For some reason, we never seem to have any money in our budget for anything. But when push comes to shove (or the situation goes beyond desperate), money magically appears
  • The organization is too decentralized and fragmented, and a lot of processes are made inefficient. This is a big thing for us. My director and manager figure that there are about 60-70 IT people within our faculty and research groups alone. That number should be cut in half (at the very least). Each department (and even groups within the department) tend to do their own thing, have their own budgets and thus make half-baked decisions that they tend to be ill-qualified to make or the decision should have been made by a (non-existent) centralized unit.
  • No one is willing to take responsibilities for certain things (not even the ones up at the very top), even though it ultimately may improve communication, streamline processes and save the faculty a lot of money in the long run. Why? Politics. Don't even get me started on what they are, I don't think Blogger will have enough disk space to store all my gripes. This ultimately makes us IT folk's job harder as we are trying to run an IT infrastructure as cheaply and efficiently as possible, but because of internal politics, we can't. You would never get away with this sort of crap in a private corporation.
  • Because of said dis-communication and lack of poor processes, I am still trying to find out a lot of things regarding benefits, holidays, etc. on my own (with the help of my co-workers). Orientation notwithstanding. As an employee, I still have this fish-out-of-the-water kind of feeling.
  • I still don't know if my paycheque direct deposit is set up properly, and it's been almost two months.
  • Etc, etc (trust me, I can, and probably will go on at some point later in time).
Now why am I griping to you, especially when I can't change most things. Well, since this is a public institution, you, the taxpayer, are paying for a lot of this. It really boggles the mind how much waste of money is going into a place like a university because no one wants to bother or care to make changes. Large corporations go through a house-cleaning once in a while, why can't a large university?

I've already come to the conclusion that this place is in a separate reality/dimension/planet unto itself. "KOOKY" is definitely a great word (and may be the only way) to describe this place.

(*KOOKY - I have to thank ms eyre from Hitched for the title. She's worked at UBC longer than I have, so she knows how weird things are around here).

1 comment:

ms eyre said...

Hahahaha. This post made me laugh. Especially the shout out to me at the end. I never went to the orientation, I wasn't invited until last January. Uh, yeah, I have been working here since 1998, I think I'm good.

You will get used to it. The other thing to realize is that your faculty is supposedly one of the worst for politics, at least according to my inside source. You need to get yourself our of the basement of the IRC and go for a walk girlie :)