Hey, this is important! What's taking so long?

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This big company offers a series of management programs for its newly hired college graduates, with focuses ranging from manufacturing and engineering to finance and IT, says a pilot fish working there.

"New hires would work a series of six-month assignments over a period of two years," fish says. "The better they proved themselves in the program, the better their final job at the end -- a Director position wasn't unattainable.

"As a result, they tended to work hard, party hard and make hard demands on the folks they interacted with."

One of the management wannabes needs some work done on a system fish supports -- an additional screen, plus database changes and code to make it all work -- and, as is typical, waits until it's close to performance review time before getting fish the specifications.

After which, of course, it's a rush job so that it'll be done in time for the wannabe to get that great recommendation. Result: Shortly after fish gets the specs, wannabe is at his desk asking when the work will be done.

Fish already has a full slate of work -- and also knows that, while this is obviously top priority for the wannabe, it certainly isn't for the division.

So he ponders a moment, then gives the wannabe a date sometime after the performance review.

That's not exactly well received. "But when I was in college, I was able to write something similar in under a week, and I had other classes," wannabe tells fish. "Why can't you?"

To which fish responds, "Because I have to integrate it with the pile of garbage we already have, which was here long before I came. And I'll have to take care of this material long after you're gone in two weeks."

Grumbles fish, "The user went over my head to get priority. I got my boss to defer some work, and I still wouldn't commit to being done on time until the work was actually done and ready to turn over.

"I figured anyone who made unreasonable demands -- and not in a nice way, insinuating that my work was the equivalent of a freshman programming course -- left me no obligation to ease their nerves.

"But the work was still done in time for the user to get a great performance review."

Sharky knows you've got other things to do -- but hey, where's your story? Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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