One of the great opportunities we have as Intel employees are DOT assignments. What is a DOT? Well, Intel has an internal tool called the Development Opportunity Tool, or DOT for short. It’s a place where managers can post temporary assignment opportunities that employees can sign up for. This is a great way for teams to get temporary help, and for employees to have a chance to try out a new role. For most companies doing something like this isn’t possible, but for Intel it’s a huge benefit. Think of it as a low-risk way to try on a whole new career and see if it fits. You get to learn new skills, grow as an employee, and explore parts of the company you otherwise wouldn’t get to see. Once you’re done, you still have your original job to go back to. In many ways it’s like getting a new job; you submit your resume, go through an interview process, and talk to the manager about why you’re the right person for the job. It’s great practice if the time comes where you do want to change jobs.
For the past two months I’ve been working on a DOT assignment as a product marketing engineer (PME) for the Channel Innovation and Solutions Division (CISD) in Oregon. This is a complete departure from my day job as a backup & recovery administrator. Before this assignment I had no idea what a PME did, or even that the role existed. But, the assignment sounded very interesting and it was on a team that I’ve come to know quite well over the past few months. Among other things they’re responsible for Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) micro-PCs; easily my favorite Intel product. One of their PMEs was headed for sabbatical and the assignment was to cover for him for two months. Most jobs take six months to a year just to come up to speed, and I had just eight weeks to not only learn the job, but do it at the same time. Not to mention the job was in Oregon and I’m in California. This was going to be interesting!
When I first joined the team it was a bit like drinking from a fire hose; people were asking me questions I had no idea how to answer, and expecting me to make decisions about things I’d never heard of. At first it was daunting, but before long I found a groove; I figured out who my go-to people were and where the important information was. The people on the team were fun and easy to work with, and that made a huge difference. The business was incredibly fast-paced and there was an amazing energy on the team. Everyone was excited about what we were doing so that got me excited. Coming from an operations job, it’s a different experience to have people ask for your opinion on product development and then have them actually listen to your input.
In other companies, traveling to and from Oregon a couple of days a week would be a real strain, but Intel has an air shuttle! Which luckily has direct flights between Folsom and Oregon. So, I was able to get to Oregon in about 90 minutes, have a full day there, and then fly back in time for dinner. That sure made it easy!
My assignment is wrapping up now. In many ways it’s going to be hard for me to leave. After two months I feel like I’ve finally gotten into the swing of the job. I get things right more than I get them wrong now and the feeling of making a contribution is amazing. I’ll head back to my regular job with new skills, new knowledge, and more than a few new friends. The people on the team have been fantastic; they’ve had so much patience with me learning along the way and have been unbelievably helpful and supportive. Not once did anyone treat me like a “temp”… Far from it. Toward the end of the assignment I found myself reminding them I couldn’t commit to working on something in September or October because I wouldn’t be on my assignment any more.
It’s been an amazing, fun couple of months and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.