Starting a new job is always a bit weird, isn’t it?
Perhaps you don’t agree. Maybe you’re an unflappable new starter, swanning into unfamiliar workplaces like Rihanna sashaying to the front row of a Balenciaga show. Maybe you’re charismatically confident from the off – high-fiving colleagues like you’ve worked there for years and getting your new boss in a playful headlock.
If that is you, congrats. But for the rest of us, starting a new job is generally a dizzying mix of excitement, trepidation, and having to ask endless dumb questions about how things work and where things go and what does this thing do then?
Here then, for your entertainment, is a frank appraisal of my first month at Don’t be Shy, and the five key things I learned during those first four weeks.
It’s possible I don’t understand the culture at all, and Don’t be Shy is staffed entirely by swivel-eyed sociopaths. And if that’s the case? Well, I’ll still have worked at worse places.
1. You can embrace a workplace’s culture without being in the actual workplace
Don’t be Shy was the first new role I’d taken on since the world went kaput back in March 2020. And as the UK was still in sorta-lockdown, it was going to be the first ever job where I wouldn’t meet the majority of my colleagues for several weeks.
As a result, I assumed that I wouldn’t be getting the hang of Don’t be Shy’s workplace culture for aaages – possibly until office life returned to normal. Long-running office in-jokes would confound me; longstanding traditions would pass me by.
But! Thanks to some Covid-constrained meet-ups, proactive video-call intros, Slack conversations and the general welcomingness of the team, I feel like I’ve actually managed to get a good grip on the culture of my new home-from-home.
Of course, it’s possible I don’t understand the culture at all, and Don’t be Shy is staffed entirely by swivel-eyed sociopaths who revel in stress and misery. And if that’s the case? Well, I’ll still have worked at worse places.
2. I can understand hyper-technical stuff
Look, I’m certainly no technophobe. You want proof? My phone is permanently set to dark mode. Plus, I know how to correctly pronounce GIF. (For the record, it’s “GIF”.)
Having said that, I’ll admit to being apprehensive about immersing myself in the techiness of Don’t be Shy. My concern was that every other conversation I had would involve lengthy tech explanations that were painful for everyone involved.
Turns out, however, that, if I concentrate and furrow my brow, I can get a firm grip on this stuff – with, thankfully, only the occasional input required from my helpful colleagues. SDK spoofing? Personalisation tokens? Go ahead – ask me. I can explain ‘em all. I’m an absolute digital sorcerer. I’m like Shingy. Remember Shingy?
Having said that…
3. This coffee machine is – excuse my French – merde
I’ve already clocked up dozens of tussles with this hateful plastic rascal. I swear that the sequence of button presses, lever pulls and pod insertions required to concoct coffee changes every time I use it. It’s always 50/50 as to whether I’ll end up with a cup of coffee, or a worrying skronking noise followed by an angry spit of scalding water.
In my second week, three pods somehow got jammed together in the little pod-hole thing, and I had to sheepishly ask my new colleague Jake to come and help extract them. We fiddled, jabbed and sweated, while the coffee machine coldly cackled at our pitiful human struggles.
In office-life terms, I feel like battling uncooperative coffee-pod machines is the more modern equivalent of battling uncooperative printers. Yeah? No? Just me? Just me.
4. Your dog will bring hot shame upon your good name
I was initially reluctant to bring in Betty – my six-month-old Boston Terrier – as she can be hyper and unpredictable, and I didn’t want to be constantly apologising to new workmates for bites or muddy paw-prints on pristine work trousers.
Eventually, though, the rest of the content team talked me into introducing Betty to the office. And things were going fine... until I needed to step out of the office for 10 minutes, at which point Betty seized the opportunity to sick-up extravagantly all over the floor, in full view of my new colleagues, before attempting to eat all her freshly vommed vom.
Someone thankfully pulled her away before she could complete her wretched horrorshow. Still, though – those were some ashen, traumatised faces that greeted me upon my return. Bad dog.
5. Acronyms can vary from place to place, WTF
Working in marketing, memorising acronyms is an unwritten part of your job description. On an average day I’ll use more arcane coded abbreviations than a Special Forces soldier on a black ops mission. CRM, PPC, DMP, SERP, B2B2C – TLGOAO (the list goes on and on).
Acronyms are an important part of agency life – yes, you feel a bit of a massive wazzock using them all the time, but they save you loads of time that you can instead spend fighting the coffee-pod machine or mopping up dog sick.
But get this: Turns out, different agencies use acronyms differently. At Don’t be Shy, ‘SME’ doesn’t just mean ‘small-to-medium enterprise’ – it can also mean ‘subject-matter expert’. What the hell? Is that allowed? Is that legal?
To be fair, SME was the only example of misaligned acronym use that I came across during my first month, but it’s rattled me a bit. How can I now be certain that when I use an acronym at Don’t be Shy, it means the same to my workmates as it means to me? The whole episode has me feeling pretty LOL (low on loquaciousness).