Starting a new role? Six years after Day 1: Carsten’s tips for rockstar newbies
Carsten is based in the Hamburg office of FREE NOW. After starting out as an IT Systems Administrator, Carsten progressed and went on to build out the IT department. After recently switching roles within FREE NOW, Carsten looks back over the years and offers his wisdom to all those starting out at one of the fastest-growing mobility providers.
You’ve been at FREE NOW for about six years; how have you grown since you started out? I started working in 2013 as a systems administrator with a specialization for client machines (they hired me because I said that I knew how to handle Macs). Many years and countless roles later, they made me Head of IT. I was responsible for basically making sure everyone can work — that means having a computer, network connections, working internal systems, authentication, access control, etc.
Over the years, more and more responsibilities added up, for example, video conferencing and live streaming of company events like the All Hands meetings. They quickly became my pet projects because I believe in the importance of seamless communication and professional standards.
At the end of 2018, my role of Head of IT had outgrown my own professional goals. I was leading a team of over twenty people and although I enjoyed the role, I yearned for more hands-on-action. I needed to build and create things. So I decided to step into a different role and I became the Audiovisual Architect of the company. Furthermore, I looked for a worthy successor for my previous role and found him (it’s always nice if you can choose your own boss).
All of this shows that in a growing company, there are so many possibilities — new job roles that you couldn’t imagine two years ago just suddenly emerge. And sometimes, you even get to create them.
What are your top tips for anyone starting with FREE NOW?
For anyone starting out at FREE NOW, my top tip is to ask as many questions as you can. It shows that you are engaged and it makes it easier to get to know your colleagues. As for getting to know the ropes at FREE NOW, be aware that constant change is the name of the game: everything can be suddenly totally different, so flexibility and enjoying rapid change are very advantageous.
What can you expect from your first few weeks at FREE NOW?
On your first day, your assigned Buddy will meet you in reception and take you on a tour of the office, introduce you to other teams and make sure that you feel comfortable getting set up. Super important- don’t forget to take Buddy selfie!
You will also take part in the Onboarding days, where you will be immersed in FREE NOW life- the product, the vision, networking, sprint-style exercises and plenty of participant input are just some of the things you can expect from a FREE NOW Onboarding experience! It is an immersive experience so don’t worry if you can’t remember every little detail. The main thing is that you enjoy meeting your new colleagues and have a great start to your FREE NOW journey.
If you could go back to your first day, what would you tell yourself?
My first day is a while back in July 2013. I wrote an email to the whole company introducing myself with a bunch of FAQs. I’d definitely do it all over again!
To make the most of a new start, what you would you say new starters should aim to have achieved after one month, three months and six months at FREE NOW?
During your first month, get to know as many of your colleagues as possible. Talk to as many people as you can. After three months, you should have to get a feeling for the company culture. Be part of an afterwork. After six months, let your feedback and improvements be heard. If you think something could be improved, change it! Or bring your feedback to the responsible team or person. Have a probation period end party (and invite all of your work friends)!
What qualities do you need to be successful at FREE NOW?
This depends a bit on the team. In general, I’d say a passion to experiment, curiosity, the ability to learn quickly, and most importantly: you need to know how to google. In an ever-developing world such as tech, you won't know everything so being able to proactively research and find solutions is key.
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
Building the wonderful IT team from the ground up. These people are the backbone of the company. My proudest achievement is, that now — even two and a half years after I hired the first full-time employee — not a single member of the team quit.
Okay, one guy did quit, but he came back half a year later — and the whole team celebrated this!
Why do you love working for FREE NOW?
One of the things that I love about working for FREE NOW are the incredibly talented people I get to work with every day: the combined vision, drive, and creativity makes it so much fun to collaborate with them. In addition to this, there is a lot of freedom and opportunity for professional growth.
If you have an idea at FREE NOW, own it and just do it!
Would you like to experience Carsten’s working culture? Check out the opportunities available at FREE NOW across our offices across Europe here.