|Working for one of those cretins
who thinks that a symposium is a company-paid junket that's a waste of
time and money for anyone but himself? How do you get around this kind
of neanderthal? Kidnap his sliderule and ransom it for a signed travel
req? Hang snakes in his cave? Poison his carrion? Switch his Viagra with
Getting through to these troglodytes is pretty
difficult. I've had a lot of experience at it, not all successful, of course.
Thus, some suggestions born of that experience. They will either get you
to the symposium or get you fired, but if you work for one of these throwbacks,
either outcome will be an improvement.
with him. Show him what an advantage it is for himself and the company.
Right. Sure. This should work. And afterward, you can go to your meeting
of the Committee for World Peace Through Cultural Understanding
and your lessons in conversational Esperanto.
Most companies have a formal policy that they will support symposium
attendance if the employee has an accepted paper. I suspect that at least
half of the papers submitted to the MTT Symposium are simply travel requisitions
in another form.
the Employee Manual
Strange as it may be in a world of corporate dysfunctionality, many
companies actually have established policies for these things. I worked
for one where the policy encouraged technical employees to attend
at least one symposium a year. (Ah, those were the days!) Of course,
most managers simply ignore company policy when it suits them to do so,
but at least you can use this as a negotiating point. Many managers will
give in, rather than show that they're too stupid to think up a good response.
Whatever you do, don't ask the boss beforehand for permission
to submit a paper or to go to the symposium! Asking permission implies
that it's reasonable for him to say no. Write the paper and fill
out the company's publication-approval form, or fill out the travel request,
and put it on his desk for signature. Act like approval is pro forma.
Then, if he rejects it, he's on the defensive: it's harder to deny you
something you've expected than to deny you something you've asked for.
A job on the steering committee may be enough to get you there. After
all, it looks really bad for the company if you are a visible member of
the committee, but some idiot manager won't let you go to the symposium.
a week's vacation and just go!
Yes, I know, it's the employer's responsibility to support professional
development. But a lot of them just don't do it. It isn't the only, or
even the worst, example of managerial "reneging" and hypocrisy. Most important
is to attend the symposium; who pays for it is secondary. Don't miss out
on the opportunity to improve your technical skills, to network, and to
maintain your professional standing simply by being unwilling to spend
a few hundred bucks. It needn't be expensive; this site will show you ways
to minimize costs.
wear your parachute, and be sure everyone knows you might use it.
In the final analysis, your bargaining position comes from your value
to the organization, not from your ability to politic, to bullshit, to
make excuses, to create slick PowerPoint viewgraphs, to suck up, or to
"dress for success." I firmly believe that your only security comes from
insecurity. Make a damn good engineer of yourself, earn and expect respect
and, if it's denied you, be ready to go where you'll get it. If you really
do this right, you won't have to ask for permission to go to the MTT. You
just drop off the travel request, expect it to be signed, and, dammit,
it will be!