The yin and yang of my work

So I’m currently commuting to Oakland for two part-time gigs that add up almost to full time. By coincidence, they’re in the same building. I didn’t arrange it this way, it just happened. So every morning I step in the elevator and have to consciously think about which floor button I will push.
It also feels a little odd that I have a desk at each, but I have to either stock each of the desks with the same item (i.e. upstairs tea mug, downstairs tea mug), or go up/downstairs to retrieve an item (cell phone charger, commuter coffee cup) from my other desk down/upstairs!

These two agencies happen to be sister agencies, or maybe sibling rivalry would be a better description of their relationship. They both cover the same territory, work with each other, and even have some similar programs. But it’s interesting that their corporate culture is very different. One is more feminine, the other more masculine, so I’ll call them Company Yin and Company Yang.

I first got the gig at Yin as a subcontractor staff for a specific program area. Yang was a place where I used to work a long time ago. One of their staff was going to be on maternity leave, so they called me into substitute for her, which I agreed to, with the understanding that I would not work on any program areas that would pose a potential conflict with my work at Yin.

So it’s been a couple of months now, and I’ve been realising some of the differences between them. I don’t think I prefer one place over the other, in addition to the qualities listed below, there are other things that impact my opinion. I’m just sharing my amusements with them both here.

SNACKS for MEETINGS
Yang: Soda pop. Chocolate cookies with nuts and burnt toffee bits (which are absolutely irresistible)
Yin: Water (from a dispenser). Fresh fruit.

OFFICE ART:
Yin: Gouache paintings done by MFA types like those in art galleries, but with transportation themes like biking, walking, etc.
Yang: ‘Motivational’ prints of the type you see hawked in the SkyMall catalog, landscape photos with captions like “Drive”, ” Excellence”, etc.

WALL COLOR and LIGHTING:
Yang: dark
Yin: light

APPROACH:
Yin: very outward focused on public outreach/communication/input and awareness
Yang: tends to self-driven, they go ahead and do things their way

STAFF:
Yang: mostly engineers/male
Yin: mostly program managers/female

OFFICE SUPPLIES:
Yang: hard to come by
Yin: hard to come by

CEO:
Yang: Male
Yin: Female

The funny thing is that even thuogh I’m working on different topics at each agency, my paticular project at each is on the same trajectory: “we need to develop a new program, so (1) research what’s out there, (2) see what the clients would want, (3) sort the options based on short, medium, or long term, (4) make some recommendations . . . I feel like I’m in a weird deja vu ‘Groundhog Day’ cloud.

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One thought on “The yin and yang of my work

  1. Quite a coincidence that both your part time gigs were in the same building. It’s amusing that the yin/yang principle was so closely mirrored in every facet of the two companies, all the way down to the office art !

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