Case Study #1: Week 3

(Job Stressors and Coping)

Julia placed a few small decorations around her desk. Her face and hands still tan from her recent trip to Spain, she arranged a pair of souvenir castanets, a flamenco dancer bobblehead, and a snow globe she had received from her sister, Elena, at graduation.

Inside the globe, a young brunette woman, just like Julia, sat in a chair, her elbow on a desk and her chin perched on her fist in a posture resembling Rodin’s Le Penseur. Julia took a breath. Well, this is Vision Consulting. So…what now?

The answer soon came. During the first two weeks of adjusting to Vision Consulting’s environment, she spent her days in trainings, flipping through binders and listening to HR reps and managers pontificate about procedures and client expectations.

Between meetings, she attended a few training sessions on Excel, PowerPoint, and Tableau so she could polish those skills, and she was even taking some additional online courses through LinkedIn, which she tended to watch on her phone during dinner.

That had led to more than one argument with her boyfriend, Randall, who lamented that Julia worked so much and that he wasn’t a priority anymore.

Obviously, Julia didn’t like the impact that her job was having on their relationship, but she had heard that her unit often threw new hires into projects at the outset of Week 3, and she planned to be ready.

One afternoon between bites of her Cobb salad, she told Kevin, a coworker who had befriended her on Day 2:

“It’s amazing how much I am learning, but I’m still kind of worried about starting my first major project, whatever that’s going to be.”

Kevin reassured her:

“You know, the company wants to get you working on projects as soon as they can, but they’re also not going to turn you loose until they think you’re really ready.”

Julia said:

“I hope you’re right.”

Kevin replied:

“Trust me. You’ll be fine.”

During the final day of Julia’s two-week training, her first assignment came: a project for Future Furni, a smart furniture company in San Francisco. The company had faced recent failures with their newest line of standing desks, prompting an attempt to acquire VSOP, a small standing desk company.

As Julia walked toward baggage claim in the SFO airport, her phone dinged. It was an email from her VP:

“The senior consultant on this case had an emergency. She’ll be on leave for the next month. We have reassigned a lead consultant to the case, and he will join you in two weeks. Meanwhile, collect information from the client and keep them engaged. Contact your manager if you encounter problems.”

Knitting her brow, Julia thought, What information?

Julia spent the next two weeks chasing down and interviewing engineers, taking copious notes and organizing every detail. When Julia finally had a chance to sit down with the engineering manager, the manager casually flipped through a couple of sections of Julia’s notes and looked up at her.

“Thank you for putting these together. I will look at them again later.”

Julia’s heart dropped as the manager tucked the notes into a desk drawer and closed it.

Over the next couple of days, Julia felt uninspired. She took five coffee breaks on Thursday, and a group of hardware engineers even caught her smoking by the outdoor ping pong tables.

Case Study Questions

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