There's a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live in which Kenan Thompson plays the host of a ridiculous talk show. There's not actually much talking on the show, because any time a new guest enters the stage or says something silly or really does anything at all, Kenan and his band break out into song. The music is peppy and loud, and the lyrics are simple: "Whooo-eee! What up wit dat? What up wit dat?" He has background singers who salsa behind their microphones, and Kenan dances across the stage. Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous.
And for the past week, every time I've told someone that I work at WHOI (whoo-ee!), my brain has chimed in with "What up wit dat? What up wit dat?" Ugh.
Now that I've been at WHOI a couple days, I can give you my first impressions of the institute. First off, this place is huge. Two-campuses huge. Official-policies-on-everything huge. Huge. I've worked at a large institute before (the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany), but at the time, I was sheltered in the bubble of my deep-sea ecology group. I've gotten much better acquainted with my new institute's magnitude in the past couple days. WHOI's size means it has a lot of power and a lot of resources. Huge.
Second, the people are ridiculously friendly. They smile at each other when passing in the halls, and many stop to chat. When I asked to eat lunch with a colleague, she immediately consented and pulled out an extra chair. I was even offered hot chocolate while waiting for an appointment in the Human Resources office. Very classy, and very friendly.
There's a culture of innovation at WHOI. There's a positive atmosphere. I am surrounded by fundraisers and risk-takers and modern-day explorers. At such a cutting-edge institute, I expected fierce competition, but so far, I've only found people who legitimately love what they do. I think I've landed in a very good place.