Being recruited by the CIA changes everything

“Can you at least tell me if there’s a possibility of coming back to Chicago after the 18 month training is done?“


“We do have a Chicago office, but no I can’t say.”


Not one detail could be shared regarding what my job would be, where or with whom. The one thing they did share; “You won’t have to go to Afghanistan if you don’t want to.”


They wanted electrical engineers, but when I think about that phone call what they really wanted were adrenaline junkies – high on the idea that one day they’d be trained to break someone’s arm with a pinky toe, or improvise explosives from half a can of soda and magnets from an old VCR.


But I live on the west side of Chicago you guys. Though many people here are very nice, and it isn’t quite the hellscape some might believe – I’ve seen a guy poop in the middle of the street. And yea you can see that outside Wrigley after a game, but the point being I’ve seen my fair share of junkies. They’re usually too tweaked to know they even have toes much less how to break an arm with one. And good luck getting them to take apart a VCR – they don’t usually have the dexterity to work with those tiny screwdrivers.


I think about that phone call every now and again, and as I wrap this first month at Doejo I wonder what part it played in the string of events that led from engineer of electrons to well – engineer of electrons. The device you’re reading this blog on, and the devices with which it was designed/coded/served are driven by never-ending streams of digital signalry, and them thar signals ain’t made from ice cream or delicious cheese. I’ve designed electronics for over a decade at this point, and if cellphones or laptop displays had ice cream inside I would’ve found the crap out of it by now.


Similarities to hardware design teams:

These talented people work incredibly hard. Projects at Doejo vary in complexity, but are front-loaded with a lot of creative thought put toward making robust, viable, and easy to use products – while staying flexible to evolving project needs. Despite a team’s best effort, sometimes a project schedule may slip. People don’t dwell on it or point fingers. They work together and work the problem. They get it done.



Doejo doesn’t do much with electronics (not yet muhahah), but the projects they’re involved in require the skill-set of many disciplines – which means there isn’t the homogeneous kind of environment I’ve usually seen. I’m nothing if not adaptable though, so I don’t bring anything from my time in big-corporate to this culture that isn’t truly going to be helpful (except the chocolate-chip cookie overflow from when my wife feels like baking). Other differences in the office include: an almost inordinately-high use of animated GIFs, great coffee, and fantastic catered lunches. To all of which I say, “what the shit is happening here?”


I’m hopeful the things I bring from my former career (I don’t mean cookies) get better as time goes on (the cookies can’t get better), and I’m not spending my day learning new tools, jargon and trying to wrap my head around the exciting, beast-of-a project I’m on. I look forward to building things with this cool group of nerds, and all the new things I’m bound to learn from them. Except for street pooping you guys – I’m good there.

Filed in: Doejo