I was really inspired by my onboarding process in the UK, so when the head of engineering education sent out a call for volunteers to help expand the bootcamp program to other offices around the world, i signed up. My expectation was that i would go through a training period of several months before qualifying as a full-fledged educator able to run bootcamps here in China.
That didn't happen.
One of the unusual things about how the Shenzhen office is staffed is its model of calling up employees from our Chinese parent company. This means instead of getting new hires dripping in through the standard interview funnel, we get whole batches of guys airlifted in from Shanghai, usually to serve a 6 or 9 month stint on a single project.
Arguably, this method of staffing undermines the company culture, because these temporary contractors from our parent company do not have the same holiday pay and benefits that we do, and their bonus structure is based on how quickly they deliver features instead of how well they perform in the broad cross-section of competencies we expect from our own engineers.
But then, that's not just a China thing. All the big tech companies hire armies of temps for some reason i have never quite figured out. It probably all comes back to some kind of tax scam or other financial chicanery, because fuck capitalism.
The bright side is that sometimes it can work as a kind of extended trial period. About half of our Shenzhen office is made up of former temps from our parent company who decided to join our company full-time. But up until recently, those hires slipped through the cracks of the onboarding program.
Last week i co-facilitated my first bootcamp with two other colleagues in the Shenzhen office. None of us are trained educators so we are just trying to do our best at following the curriculum and emulating the good example we were set back in London. We are making mistakes, but we are doing our best and trying to improve each time.
What i didn't expect is how much time would be required. Education is hard work. It's not just having to put on a smiling face and be "on" for the entire day, which is exhausting on its own. It's also a lot of admin around organizing speakers for individual sessions, figuring out lunch for the participants, adjusting for session cancellations or other disruption, reflecting on what worked and what didn't, sending feedback to the speakers, reporting back up to the London office and so on. Plus i have to do almost all of it in Chinese. Last weekend i was already spent.
And then some fucking manager in Europe ordered in a new batch of temps and dumped them on our head. So after running one bootcamp, the following week we immediately had to run another one. Due to the rush, there were a lot of administrative fuck-ups. One senior participant spent the whole week thinking he was above it all and decided to take phonecalls and hold meetings inside the training room, during the presentations and lab sessions. We couldn't believe how rude and disrespectful he was, but we did our best to work around it and give the three people who did care a training that was still valuable.
Meanwhile, our managers are blaming us for spending too much time giving trainings instead of writing code. The way our managers have reacted to us volunteering to give these mandatory trainings to our colleagues has really soured me on management here in the China office. Contrary to their own job descriptions, it seems managers here only care about delivering features, and do not place much emphasis on championing the company values or helping employees to grow. That's exactly the sort of mindset we are trying to change by introducing these bootcamps over here! So there's that conflict too.
Then, on Friday, the Chinese government called to fuck everybody in the ass with their unhinged ultra-nationalist bullshit. I will write about that in another post. But, friends, this is why i have been so exhausted for the past few weeks. It's for a good cause, but definitely the highest stress couple of weeks since i started working here.