In the first few months of 2020, I was finishing up a three-year contract leading a statewide campaign promoting pet adoption and raising awareness for homeless pets in Nevada. Animal welfare is one of my passions, but my contract was ending, so I was looking for my next challenge, not knowing what 2020 would bring.
I saw KPS3 had an account manager opening and having been a client in my former role, I thought I would be a good fit, so I applied. I had an interview, a working test, then another interview. Then the pandemic hit, and everything got put on hold before I could get hired.
Technically, I was still doing a small contract job, but I needed a full-time gig. I wasn’t without work because of COVID but trying to find a full-time job during COVID became nearly impossible.
In July things started to move in the right direction again. KPS3 reopened the account manager position. I went through another interview, virtual this time, and was hired. My first day was on July 27, where I met my new boss in a nearly empty office, and we went to lunch with masks on. Oh, the new normal.
KPS3 had been working remote for four months prior to me arriving. And even today, the office is open, but not many people come in. Lucky for me, I became accustomed to working remotely, whether from a hotel, a plane, or my actual home, years ago. I’m probably one of the few who enjoy it and find it more productive.
Starting new remotely? Not as fun. Using direct messages for conversation while having to learn communication etiquette presents a curveball. Reaching out for help can be awkward. How do I ask questions without looking foolish? Will I bother you? Do I call, text, Slack or email? In the office, you can literally ask the person next to you. Remotely, it’s just not the same.
You and your boss want to hit the ground running, but it’s not as easy as you would like. There’s a longer onboarding process. A technology curve that would normally be easy side-by-side in person, is now side-by-side in virtual Zoom boxes.
Grasping the company culture is also challenging. In my interviews I felt like I was having coffee with friends, my kind of professional vibe. But, virtually? It’s much harder to navigate. Video meetings help, but there’s still the internal battle of what to wear, do I take a lunch break, and will my cats be a distraction? With a new job, you don’t know what will fly. And without knowing everyone, trying to fit into their friendly banter is a struggle. You want to show your personality but still keep up appearances.
Then there are the few in-person meetings, or happy hours, to keep the culture alive. I went out with some of my new colleagues, who I had met once, and trying to find them in a crowd of masks is, well, challenging. I can only imagine what I looked like staring down strangers in a bar wondering if those were the people I was meeting. It appears to be like internet dating, which I’ve never done, but even though you’ve been talking via text or video, when you see them in person, it’s still awkward.
I’m two months in. The process is getting better. I’m feeling more comfortable, I’ve learned it’s ok to wear a sweatshirt on internal calls, as long as I wear something nice for the client calls (despite my yoga pants on the bottom). My cats enjoy acting as my real background and make people smile. I feel much better about navigating this new position in this new virtual world.
Below, I’ve left a few tips for any other people starting a new job in 2020:
- Learn the culture and how everyone communicates. At KPS3 a lot of internal communication happens via Slack, which takes getting used to if you love your inbox.
- Understand expectations, and if you don’t, ask (and ask again).
- Before interacting via chat, make sure you can make a personal connection with someone. Then they can understand your personality while you respond in team chats.
- Keep your tone clear and neutral to start off in some channels; in others, let your personality shine.
- Block unstructured time so that you can clear your head if needed. Take a walk, exercise, sit outside.
- Ask for help (even if that is not your norm).
- Bond with other new people.
Let me wrap this up by saying starting a new job in a pandemic is not impossible. It’s not even bad. It’s just different and takes more time than it would in a normal environment. I’m lucky that KPS3 is pretty cool, or maybe I’m just slowly getting to know people and I’ve learned who I can talk to without it being a bad blind date.
A New Job in a Pandemic World
In the first few months of 2020, I was finishing up a three-year contract leading a statewide campaign promoting pet adoption and raising awareness for homeless pets in Nevada. Animal welfare is one of my passions, but my contract was ending, so I was looking for my next challenge, not knowing what 2020 would bring. I saw KPS3 had an account manager opening and having been a client in my former role, I thought I would be a good...
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