I work in the defense industry. I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Working in the defense industry does, however, bring a lot of stereotypes along with it. There are a lot of grumpy former military officers in their 50s and 60s. There is a lot of lingo that boring civilians like me don’t understand. And there are a lot of briefings. If there is anything that can be discussed by more than two people, you bet your ass that there is going to be a briefing.
These briefings, or “meetings” as you non-DoD folk call them, are actually quite the experience. They are full of old man humor and a bunch of guys who don’t want to be there. There are plenty of unique curse words that get dropped. Everyone’s coffee is black. The chairs are comfy and the comradery is incomparable.
A lot of people hate meetings. I see daily tweets from countless millennials lamenting how awful their meeting is going to be or already was. Now, while we may be able to all agree on how much we hate conference calls, I refuse to join the “I Hate Meetings” crowd. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be part of.
I absolutely love meetings. It’s a perfect opportunity to get away from my desk for an hour or so and not have to do any work at all. Most of the time, meetings don’t even pertain to me necessarily, but I’m just required to be there. You’d be surprised how much a meeting can actually benefit you. I have been able to not only pick up a ton of job knowledge but also learn more about internal processes and the way things work in other departments. Being in this particular industry, it’s been huge for me and my development. I have been able to learn the way things work and I’ve also begun my own dictionary of defense contracting slang and acronyms. Meetings are a great way to learn and also make an impression on all kinds of people. No pressure.
Meetings are also a prime opportunity to learn a lot of stuff that you’re not supposed to know. Of course, there’s always the typical office gossip and slandering of anyone that is not in attendance, but did you know you can learn all kinds of other company secrets that you aren’t supposed to hear? A common occurrence is a topic that should typically be “taken offline” ends up being discussed right there in front of your eyes. Congratulations! Now you know that the Director of Contracts is getting fired before even he does! Are you now obligated to tell his wife? Don’t worry, you can’t, because she already left him for the same reason he’s getting fired. Yeah, that went south real fast. Crazy what you can learn in meetings, isn’t it?
I challenge all of you to approach your next meeting with a positive attitude. Chances are you will be able to gain some job knowledge and maybe even connect with someone from another department just in case you want a breath of fresh air down the road. Who knows, maybe you’ll even learn that you’ve known a felon for two years. .