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Lessons from the Field

I’ve been at my new job for just over two months now. As with any job there’s a long list of things to learn. Thankfully, a lot of these things you can sorta just figure out. Not all, certainly, but there’s a certain beauty to the puzzle pieces starting to connect without you having to squint and stare and strain to figure out where they’re supposed to go. 


It takes time, especially when entering a new industry. Before I started working at Katapult, I never once looked at telephone poles. (Except for a sketchy one by my house that leaned a little too much—I always walked a little faster past that one.) 


So it’s been tough to figure out the ins and outs of pole attachments and internet connections. It always felt a bit like chemical reactions. I knew they happened and existed in daily life, but I only paid attention if something went wrong. 


But like all of us starting new jobs, my eyes have been opened to the complexities within this new industry. Here’s some of what I’ve learned: 

  • Utility poles are essential to infrastructure. 

  • Sharing the space on utility poles creates huge headaches.

  • People work REALLY hard to make sure we have stable power and internet. 

  • My boss likes the lime-flavored green Skittles (even though green apple are superior). 

  • If you leave your work computer unlocked you have to buy the office donuts (because data privacy.) 

  • Field crews do more than just take pictures of telephone poles, despite what it may look like. 


I learned that last one with some hands-on experience. Connecting the dots of fielding helped, but watching one of our teams in action showed just how much they have to track, recall, and manage. Not only is there the constant shot list to check off, but there are anchors to measure, specs to capture, crossovers to keep in mind, and safety precautions to take. 


They have to keep up with all of this while navigating hectic city streets, trekking through backyards, and bushwhacking through the woods. 


It takes some serious mental energy for 8-18 hours a day. 


Sheesh. 


Our process uses cameras and photos to capture all this data. My fingers cramp at the idea of clicking a shutter button for 10 hours. I get cold sitting in our office, much less in the middle of January in northeastern PA. 


All this to say? It’s a lot of work. 


And it’s a lot of time behind a camera. 


But it gives the team reliable data, data that can’t be disputed. And it’s simple enough someone like me (cough, definitely NOT an engineer) could do it. 


And it results in some pretty awesome shots, like this one. 


A bee hovers next to a large pink flower.


Plus, you get to make some cool friends, like these guys.



A hand holding a camera that displays three husky dogs standing upright behind a fence.


So maybe there are accidental joys of spending so many hours behind a camera. 


At the very least, I get joy from seeing pictures of bees and pups. 


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