Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Overlord

It has occurred to me that I've mentioned The Overlord several times without actually telling you anything about who he is. The Overlord is one of the professors in my department. He is one of those academics who really doesn't care to teach, so he takes on a bunch of different funded projects. He quite literally brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants every year. Currently, he has at least four different projects going, each of which is funded by outside organizations or groups. With so many projects going on at any one time, he needs a number of grad students working for him. We are referred to as "minions". I think there are nine of us right now.

Overall, The Overlord is a good boss to work for. He expects you be in the office during your scheduled hours and working, and sometimes your hours extend beyond what you are assigned. He also expects you to be on email regularly, and to respond within 24 hour during the week (48 hours on weekends). If you're out of town, that's fine but you have to tell him in advance and still try to reply to emails as promptly as possible. But the flip-side is that he takes care of you. He usually takes his minions out to lunch at least once a semester. And he makes sure you have good equipment to use. I spent much of the last semester designing, purchasing, and setting up new computer equipment for one of the projects I'm working on. This means that I get to spend most of my time working on a brand new, top of the line computer. I have maxed out hardware (including a 20 inch, flat-panel monitor) and have up-to-date software. He basically handed me the credit card and said "Go buy it." Of course, I had to run things by him first, but he has never turned down one of my requests. By the time I have purchased everything we want, I will have spent over $18,000 on computer equipment. Here's the list so far: 2 desk-tops (1 maxed out, 1 a step down from there), 2 laptops (1 work-horse, 1 ultra-portable), a portable projector, 2 portable hard-drives, a color laser printer, a 3-in-1 printer/scanner/copier, and full versions of Adobe Acrobat and Macromedia Creative Suite.

He also throws a party every year, to which all the minions are invited and expected to attend. This is not just a little back-yard BBQ either. This is the fully blown thing, complete with all kinds of food, alcohol, and live music. Friends of his from around the country take time to come out for this thing. That's how big it is.

So, while he's demanding, he's a good boss. But the title of "The Overlord" is more than fitting!

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