Starting a new job in a new country whilst on lockdown

I'm almost two weeks into my new job at Mendix. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that I have had to start a new job, in a new country, remotely. How have I found it so far?

Let's rewind.

One of the things I liked about Mendix from the get-go was their clear, helpful and transparent communication throughout the hiring process: from the recruitment coordinator and HR to the hiring manager and the teams I spoke with.

On starting the new role I was delighted to find that this was not a one-off exercise. (Guess that 4.4 rating on Glassdoor hasn't come out of nowhere.)

Before the big day

After arriving in the Netherlands, I was preoccupied with settling in and sorting out my paperwork (and, ahem, updating my website), which left me with almost no time to think about the logistics of my first day at work. HR reminded me to select my preferred devices, submit a few documents and that was that.

The day before I was due to start, I received a package with all my kit. It included devices I chose and instructions on how to get everything up and running—all in a bag I actually wouldn't be embarrassed to carry.

So far, so good.

Week 1

After a welcome chat first thing on the big day, my manager shared a list of all the things I would need to do and that would be nice to have a look at, more or less in order of importance.

I found out, to my utter relief, that there's a culture of an agreed protocol—the team's work, processes and workflows were all clearly defined and documented. There's been no running around like a headless chicken and no corporate Finding Waldo, which is hard enough on a normal day let alone when you're onboarding remotely. I knew exactly what to do, when to do it and whom to contact to chat further.

Yet, rigour doesn't mean inflexibility. That famous Dutch bluntness forthrightness results in frank and direct discussions on what needs improving. There's no delicate dance of niceties that everyone needs to perform, which, admittedly, took me by surprise as someone who's accustomed to British corporate culture. Dare I say it makes for a refreshing change.

Week 2

One aspect that bothered me was how I was going to get to know my colleagues and build a rapport with them. Turns out, my fretting was for nothing.

One week in and I was already attending my first team 'outing', which I'm going to pretend they organised just for me. Between playing games together and everyone sharing photos of team outings from 2019 BC (Before Covid) and beyond, I got to know the humans behind the pixels a bit more. And there's always something to look forward to—whether of the organised-corporate-fun variety or random high jinks on Slack / Zoom.

Looking ahead

There's still plenty (plenty) for me to learn before I can start doing my job well. But here are a few things that have made this unusual start that much better:

  • Clear communication and ways of working
  • Smart, passionate colleagues who know what they're talking about but don't take themselves too seriously
  • Not having to commute!
  • A manager who's made my onboarding a cakewalk by giving me all the support and guidance I need but also enough room to form an opinion myself
  • The fact that this Slack channel exists:

Screenshot of a Slack channel called Process Geeks Be still, my beating heart.

All things considered, I couldn't have asked for a better beginning.

Onwards and upwards!

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