This is the day every unemployed person dreams of!
Three months after being laid off, creative director Kate Kemp finally makes it to the first day of a new job. This is the 12th in a 13-part series.
By Kate Kemp, Monster contributor
After three months of post-layoff job hunting, freelancing and exploring alternative career paths to advertising, it was finally time to start my new job as the Group Creative Director at HackerAgency. I had had a few days to recover from a 3,000-mile commute from New York to Seattle, but that didn’t change the fact that I was too excited about my first day to get a good night’s sleep.
At two in the morning, as I sleepily gazed at my snoring dog on the floor by my side of the bed, I wondered how the next day would unfold. I knew I’d start out on a new business pitch. Did that mean I’d be back to 12-hour days on Day One? Would I click with colleagues right away or would it take time to align my no-nonsense New Yorker approach with their west coast way of working? Questions swirled around my head until I dozed off again until, what felt like just 30 seconds later, my alarm went off. And so began my first day…
April 4, 2016
6:00 a.m.: Hit the snooze button.
6:09 a.m.: Hit the snooze button again.
6:18 a.m.: Hit th — Nope. I can hear my dog, Chapo, click-clacking impatiently by my side of the bed and so I begrudgingly get up out of guilt.
6:18–6:22 a.m.: Find pants and stumble outside, sleepy-eyed and crazy-haired.
6:22–6:40 a.m.: Wait patiently for Chapo to finish all of his business while I try to figure out the right first day of work outfit. Do I hide my tattoos or bust them out on day one? Dress up or down? After playing mental dress up in my head for a few more minutes, I settle on a black dress/fun tights/tall boots combo then check the clock again.
6:40–6:41 a.m.: Give Chapo the death stare while telepathically communicating that he’s encroaching on my “first day of work” primping routine.
6:45 a.m.: Feed the dog.
6:50 a.m.: Feed myself (chugging coffee counts as eating breakfast, right?)
7:00 a.m.: Shower time.
7:20 a.m.: Primping time. (I realize at this point that I really should’ve gotten a haircut from my favorite New York stylist before bolting for Seattle.)
7:58 a.m.: AAAAAAH! If I don’t leave right this second, I’ll be late for work!
8:00 a.m.: Experiencing my new commute immediately reinforces that getting an apartment across the street from work was the best move ever. I check in with the ridiculously nice receptionist, who wins me over within 30 seconds by offering me a fresh cup of coffee.
8:05 a.m.: Get escorted to my very own office. Try not to make it too obvious how excited I am about this. (Had I stayed in NYC, I would’ve had to downgrade to a small shop or upgrade to a title featuring “executive” or “vice president” before an office would have been an option.)
8:05–9:00 a.m.: Wrap up some HR payroll paperwork so I can FINALLY stop stressing about where my next check will come from.
9:00–11:00 a.m.: Meet approximately 30 people in rapid succession and try desperately to remember all of their names.
I notice right away that people here are different than my New York colleagues and friends. Not in a bad way. In fact, I really enjoy talking to everyone I meet. It’s just that they have a different look. A different demeanor. A different way of talking.
I predict I’m going to have to go through that whole “Did you just say y’all?!” thing I went through when I moved to New York. (Sorry, y’all. It’s engrained from my 30-plus years in Texas.)
11:00–11:05 a.m.: Try not to turn completely red-faced and sweaty when I discover what a terrible move I made when I met my boss for the first time.
FLASHBACK TO 11 a.m. on FEB. 24: I’m sitting at a restaurant near the office waiting to meet my potential boss. Although we’d exchanged around a half-dozen emails and had a few phone calls and video chats, this would be our first in-person meeting. I recognized him from his LinkedIn photo and, with a smile and outstretched arms, I sang out, “It’s so good to finally meet you in person!” He came in for my professional two-back-tap hug, and we went on about our meeting. I didn’t think about the exchange again until …
FLASHFORWARD TO THE PRESENT I’m on a tour of the office building with my boss when we run into another employee. “BRING IT IN BUDDY!” he says, arms posed for hugging. My boss takes a step back. “AAAAHH, I’m just messing with you,” my new colleague continues, “I know how much you hate being touched.” He holds a hand up to the side of his mouth in that I’m-about-to-tell-you-a-huge-secret kind of way, then loudly whispers for all to hear his not-so-secret secret, “Word of advice for ya. He HATES being touched. So if you ever want to mess with him, just give him a big hug!”
11:05AM-12:00 p.m.: Complete some new hire training and wonder why no one I’ve ever worked for has taken the “Defensive Driving Comedy” approach to HR training videos. Make a mental note that this could be a gold mine.
12:00–1:30 p.m.: Stuff my face at an awesome welcome lunch with the head of talent. Over vermicelli noodles, I share my thoughts on why I think RPG gamers are better managers and get permission to launch a new cultural initiative to connect with colleagues: JabberWalkies–a daily 30-minute time slot where anyone connected to the agency can walk and talk with me and my dog. He’s thrilled about it. I’m thrilled that he’s thrilled.
1:30–1:31 p.m.: Take a nice, long, appreciative look at my full pen cup knowing I’ll somehow manage to misplace every writing utensil supplied to me by the end of the week.
1:31–1:33 p.m.: Search for the supply closet so I don’t have to admit when this happens.
1:45–2:00 p.m.: Flip through the assignment details for my first project: A new business pitch.
2:00–6:00 p.m.: Dive in to what I love doing most: Creating new ideas with new people.
In a war room with brand background info, new strategies, psychographic data and creative options taped up to every inch of wall space, I work with colleagues visiting from our Munich office and officer-level executives from all departments to pull everything together.
6:00 p.m.: I fully expected to be told we were all staying late. Instead, I was encouraged to go home and enjoy my night. Work/life balance during a new business pitch?! I nearly fell out of my chair. But I managed to keep my cool, packed up and headed home for a successful first-day dinner celebration with my boyfriend.
My first day had been magical. My email box was empty, my calendar was clear, and no one expected me to have any revolutionary answers just yet. I knew all this would change by the end of the week, but, at the end of this day, I also knew I’d made the right move.
Read Part 2: This is what it’s like to wake up unemployed
Read Part 3: Playing ‘Fallout 4’ helped me with my job search
Read Part 6: The art of investigating interviewers
Read Part 7: The path to enlightenment is… unclear
Read Part 8: This four-word rule is your ticket to employment
Read Part 9: When landing a new gig means landing in a new city
Read Part 11: 3 lessons I learned on my 3,000-mile commute
Kate Kemp is currently the Group Creative Director at HackerAgency in Seattle.
Originally published at www.monster.com.