4.09.2006

Field Trips for Grown-Ups

I've always loved field trips. When I went to private school, it usually meant we didn't have to wear our uniforms that day. You got to eat different food, too—some portable concoction that may not have been particularly tasty but at least offered that essential spice, variety. And you got to ride a bus with all your friends, which was probably the most exciting part. Oh, and then there was the national park or museum or landmark you visited. Those were cool too, but more of an added bonus, on top of simply not having to go to school that day.

As an adult, I have to say that field trips still provide that primary thrill—not having to follow your normal routine for a day. One of the great things about my job is that I often get to go on field trips for grown-ups, in the form of off-site game demos (when companies invite us to their offices to show us their latest game). Occasionally, these companies have pretty cool offices, but my field trip to Pixar last week definitely stands out.

When you drive into the parking lot, it really feels like a movie studio. The gate has a big PIXAR marquee, and you have to drive through a security gate. My name was on the list, and the guy handed me a name tag, which called me "A Stranger From Outside!"—a label I didn't mind adopting at all (must be the exclamation point). The office itself is big and open, and there's some Steve Jobs philosophy behind it all that I forget but sounded very Jobs-ian. Everywhere you look, you see familiar friends like these...

...and lots of happy people scurrying around being creative. Right now, the main project is the upcoming movie Cars, so the whole office is adorned with artwork and objects related to Route 66 and everything automotive. I was very impressed with their seemingly holistic approach. They use a lot of real-world inspiration, from actual cars in the lobby to desert-inspired paintings and photographs adorning the walls.

Even if it's all for show, here's one entertainment company that truly understands "show." The other thing that impressed me was Pixar University, where employees can take up to 4 hours a week of art classes out of their (supposedly) 40-hour work week. I know how easy it is to overlook such benefits when you are at a company, but I sure hope that Pixar employees out there are taking advantage of this benefit. I would!

In summary, yes, I wish I worked there! I haven't even gotten to mention the volleyball court and massages!

Coming up in the Field Trips for Grown-Ups Series: Google!

P.S. Thanks to Kimi (these are her photos)

4 comments:

jfh said...

Sounds like fun. It's nice to know some companies are catching on to making work a truly nice place to be.But all the massages in the world can't make up for happy, kind, honest and hard-working co-workers!

Jennifer said...

are you sure about that?! I'd love to test it out!

sarah ellerman said...

I had a friend go on a field trip to google recently, and he was worried about not having enough money to pay for his sandwich, but then of course the sandwich was free, because duh, it's google.

more in the continuing series of field trips, please!

Jennifer said...

I'll get to work on Google, as I had a similar experience!