My First Week in the CIA

Daniel Lewis - Brazil


October 2, 2015

I work at the CIA. I translate press releases, make videos, edit powerpoint presentations and have a lot of time to kill. My coworkers are not spies, they are entrepreneurs; all hard at work making their dreams reality. I work in the Centro de Inovaçâo in Florioanopolis, a building off of a main highway brimming with tech companies. What were you expecting?

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Today was my seventh day on the job. One week and I still don’t really know what I am supposed to be doing. I try to spend my office time well; reading, writing and scrolling a bit here and there. I even work a little too, in an office where swings hang from the ceiling and physio-balls loll around the floor. But distraction is easy to come by.

The CIA building was once a warehouse. Its corrugated metal roof and its wide open spaces are still prominent but it definitely has a lot of tricks up its support beams. There is a foosball table near the kitchen, an amphitheater with throw-cushions and a little café around the corner that is hidden inside an oversized plant store. Outside, the fun continues. Hammocks line the front lawn, each one stretched between a modern art structure of 3-dimensional blue poles. As you can tell, this CIA is a lot fracking cooler than that other one.

The first week has been by no means easy. I trained rigorously in the art of getting lost. Each day stepping out of my bus just a few feet closer to my destination; slowly chipping away at distance in which I needed to walk until on day four, I finally made it without trouble (one of these so-called adventures ended up with me mutating a fifteen minute bus ride into an hour and a half urban excursion. My host brother eventually had to pick me up from a still-unknown location). But after one week, I have my landmarks set; the Petrobras station that is also a bus terminal in disguise (this was news to me one night when the bus dropped me off at a patch of grass in front of the stations glowing green sign…) and the pedestrian bridge that crosses four lanes of doppler horns and screeching wheels. Every morning, I squint into the rising sun to make sure I can flag down my bus before it zooms past. I could bike to work, but the fatal accident I passed on day one was kind of a turn off.

I work in two offices, Impact Hub Floripa (they’ve got the ceiling swings and all of the start-up goodness) and Social Good Brasil, an organization that helps educate and empower up and coming entrepreneurs. At Impact Hub, I am surrounded by ventures of all ages; babies who are just finding their footing as well as fairly established groups with a strong customer base. Everyone is friendly and willing to listen to my mangled Portuguese as long as I am willing to speak up (actually, most people speak English at both of my apprenticeships…). But my job description here: undefined.
Social Good Brasil is a little bit different. I am in an office with 8-10 other people; the majority of them women under the age of 30. We all sit around two tables, chatting, typing, and passing around a chimarrão (a tea that tastes like burnt dirt and resembles a certain other nefarious substance). I am the American correspondent, the IT guy, and childish entertainment all in one package. My job description here: undefined.

This is my first real job, ever. I’m definitely still getting used to it.

Daniel Lewis