Job Hunting

Right, we’re in London and we notice that our poor old NZ $ doesn’t quite go as far. This means we have to find work – what a mission that will turn out to be, at least for one of us anyway. The week following our visit to Camden markets started our job hunting. This mainly consisted of looking at various websites like JobServe and applying (generally via email) for jobs. Applying for jobs is a funny thing; generally you’ll apply and hear nothing. Occasionally you’ll get an email back from the agency saying they’ve put you on their books and every now and again you’ll get a call from a consultant asking questions or saying that your CV has been put forward for consideration.

I, being Brendon, had uncanny luck. Wednesday morning, 31st May, I got up about 6:30am and applied for ten or so positions. I got a call later in the morning from a consultant who asked a few questions and said that my CV was going forward to a company for consideration. I got another call later in the early afternoon asking if I was available for an interview the next day. This I of course accepted and all was going well. I got another call putting off the interview until Friday morning at 11:00am and that was that.

Not taking things for granted I applied for more jobs the next day and then on Friday duly got dressed up for my interview. Finding the place turned out to be reasonably easy (Piccadilly line to Kings Cross and then Central/Circle/Metropolitan to Barbican) and I arrived an hour or so early. So, I sat down and read through my crib notes on the company (Trillium – a big property management company, there’s more to it than that but it’s not important) before going in.

The interview was preceded by a half hour multi choice test that covered all sorts of computer related things – I never did find out how I did. The interview itself went very well, turns out the Trillium IT department runs the same sort of software that I had been using back at the Help Desk at Waikato University. They were urgently looking for someone and had a couple more interviews and I would have an answer as to whether I had the job by later that afternoon.

So, around 3:00pm I got a call from Genesis (the consultancy firm) saying I had the job. I had already decided I’d take it if it was offered, it was only a 2-month contract and it would be good to get some money in the bank. I was offered £17 an hour (which isn’t totally terrible but apparently I sold myself short) so that works out to £5100 before tax/VAT/fees etc – which isn’t bad really for two months work.

For those who don’t want to know the details of how the IT department works in Trillium, you can click here to skip the boring details, the rest can continue.

Trillium has about 700 users in total. About 2/3 of these people are laptop users all over the UK from Wales to Scotland, the rest are desktop users at various regional offices or based in Bastion House in London where I am based. I work at the IS Support Centre (ISSC) – the Help Desk, and take calls from users about everything from phone problems to software queries, remarkably like Waikato. All the computers are Windows NT based, whether laptop or desktop. There is one Mac in the whole company which is used for testing website compatibility. The voicemail system is CallPilot and just about everybody has a Meridian phone, which is all familiar to me.

Calls are logged using software provide by Royal Blue – it seems to be about as prolific as Remedy over here. Every user has an assigned machine name, a three letter abbreviated location designation followed by a three number machine designation, i.e. HWD001 for a machine based in Hinchley Wood. All machines are subject to a pretty stringent desktop policy, which means they can’t change or fiddle with much – which makes support really easy. Users cannot do much else other than use the applications installed on their machine; things like the desktop picture can’t be changed. Every machine also has SMS 2.0 client software installed on it so if there is a problem we just look up there machine number and connect and take over (when it works, SMS is quite dodgy at times). Users are only ever given standard User rights on their machine and their user profile is stored on a server – there are six regions so the profile is stored and accessed from the nearest regional server. Each user also has an U(ser) drive where all of there documents and email (Exchange personal folders) are stored, again stored on the nearest regional server.

The ISSC takes all calls for systems related problems and if we can’t solve it we either log it to ourselves to work on or pass it on to the relevant IT group. The ISSC also looks after the complete account management cycle – we create accounts using NT User Manager for Domains, Exchange Management Tool, and Cluster Administrator and by creating folders on the various shares in explorer. The ISSC also does server checks morning and night and manages backups and recovery (kind of like doing the Operators job from Waikato as well). This means I’m still learning stuff all the time, which is good. It also helps that all the desktops and laptops are provided by one company, Dell – if we need to fix a machine it is either replaced by Dell or we do a complete system reinstall from a Ghost image – 99% of the users files will be on their profile of home shares so they aren’t dependant on an individual machine.

The people on the IS Service Centre are all friendly – there are five of us in total – one of whom was away on holiday for the first two weeks and another who doesn’t take ISSC calls. Trillium (now Land Securities Trillium after a takeover) are in the midst of moving to Windows 2000 – the whole company will be moved to mostly new machines with Windows 2000 installed over the next few months.
Anyway, enough of me, over to Keryn’s experience’s. As I write Keryn doesn’t yet have a job after five weeks of looking. I suspect it’s because she doesn’t have a full work permit – or the market is a little slow at the moment. Anyway, she keeps applying and gets the odd call. Apparently the contract market is really slow at the present – one agency was saying that highly experienced contractors are dropping their rate in half just to get work. She has started looking for permanent positions also; some agencies won’t help because of the visa situation. If she still doesn’t have any luck in a couple of weeks, she will start looking for office work as well.

We’ve also done the requisite weekend trips and we seem to be going to the movies a lot. The cheap night at the cinema in Wood Green is Tuesday, where an adult ticket is £3, and a deluxe ticket is £4, we generally try to get seats in the deluxe theatre ’cause it really nice – the seats recline, there’s lots of leg room (Karyn with her legs outstretched can just touch the chair in front), the theatre has it’s own bar, and you can order food i.e. dinner and they will bring it to your seat.

Mummy Returns – Really enjoyed it, similar feeling to the first movie but more special effects. A sequel that is better than the first.

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