My First 3 Months at ResponseTap
My experience of starting a new role in ResponseTap’s engineering department; from first day nerves to feeling an integral part of the team.
A letter in the post
For me, and for many others, starting a new job is a daunting experience. Of course I was happy I’d made the right decision in leaving my previous company and, of course, I was excited about starting in this role which sounded so appealing throughout the interview process — but I was still anxious.
So what was I anxious about? Well, a number of things…Would I get on with the team? Would I enjoy the work? Would I do a good job? All the usual suspects and, most notably, they were anxieties which (like many anxieties in life) could well come to nothing. However, what I did know was that I was keen to get started and to get settled in.
It’s quite a common thing that when you choose to move to a new company, the only correspondence you have with the company between accepting the offer and starting your first day is admin related (e.g. filling in medical forms, reading through the contract etc.). It happened to be that my birthday was coming up and the team at ResponseTap took the opportunity to make things a bit more personal by sending me a card. Although a small gesture, it definitely helped reduce my anxieties in the run up to my first day — nice touch!
Balloons and Chiquitos
So my first day had arrived and, in my usual style for these scenarios, I got there ridiculously earlier than I needed. ResponseTap provides a free dedicated car parking space to their employees which makes life a whole lot easier. This not only helped me feel more relaxed about the drive for my first day but removes unnecessary stress and agitation from my daily commute even now.
I walk into the office and I’m greeted by my boss before getting a bit of a tour, an introduction to the team and then I’m taken to my desk — all very conventional. When I get to said desk, my laptop, monitor etc. is all there waiting and accompanying them are a set of coloured balloons — well nothing says welcome like a set of coloured balloons does it! Another small but effective gesture to make me feel welcome.
Everyone was very friendly and it was quite clear from the off that the office environment was a cheery, friendly and relaxed one. When I say relaxed, this does not mean unproductive— quite the opposite; the fact people could wear what they wanted (within reason), be flexible with the hours they worked (core hours are 10–4pm), work from home when it was beneficial to do so, have an office beer on a Friday afternoon (if they wanted) and have a refreshing amount of autonomy in their work meant that productivity was much higher than in other, more rigid, companies I have worked at. As I sat at my desk, an eclectic mix of music was being played through the in-house Sonos system and I was soon singing along to “Angie” by the Rolling Stones (in my head, trust me it’s better for everyone…).
The day went quickly as I started on a journey of inductions through the business, split up by a trip to Chiquitos with my boss and a few others in the middle. I finished the day feeling positive and motivated about working at ResponseTap.
As the first couple of weeks went by, I started to get a good feel for the business, it’s products, it’s customers and the tech stack. I was delving into the tools and software being used and was starting to understand what and how I could make a difference at the company.
The friendly, sociable and relaxed atmosphere continued (it wasn’t just a massive error in observation from my first day) and the environment catered for everyone; for example, if you like banter, it is well practiced here but only between those who want to participate. It’s also nice to be at a company where people can casually and jovially say the word “shit” and it be ok…
On my first company social we went into Manchester for food and drinks. I had heard tales of a dish of infamously spicy hot wings and , in the “knee jerk” style I’ve sometimes been known to adopt, I decided to order plate of said wings. Now I don’t always react well to overly hot food so I’ve made better decisions in my life but luckily they weren’t that bad and after a cup of milk (provided in a baby’s sippy cup for humiliation purposes) I was absolutely fine — the team insisted the wings had been hotter in the past but of course they would say that…
Back in the workplace, I found there was no pressure from my boss or anyone to start contributing as, especially with ResponseTap, it’s recognised that the industry it operates in is a bit different to what you, as a new starter, may have been exposed to in the past. The technologies are complicated and the product isn’t hugely transparent so it’s a learning curve for anyone new. I felt a little overwhelmed at first but there was a lot of reassurance that it’s going to take time to get up to speed and that’s ok.
After about a month, my boss started discussing my development plan with me; this was a plan of the things I wanted to achieve in the next 3 months that would both develop myself and benefit the company. The most refreshing part about this process was that it was a joint effort between my boss and I and further to that, when I’d realised I’d been too ambitious after looking it back over again, he was happy it was adjusted to be more realistic.
I have a voice
As I said earlier, it takes a while to get up to speed with the products and technologies at ResponseTap but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t start contributing early on.
ResponseTap acknowledges its weaknesses as much as its strengths and creates an environment of continuous improvement. This notion applies to all employees and empowers them to suggest, contribute to and lead initiatives which directly have an impact to the company. This extends to everyone in the department, regardless of how long you’ve been at the company and so, as a new starter, I was able to make suggestions and contributions from a very early stage. ResponseTap isn’t a huge company and has less than 100 staff but this facilitates the idea of direct contribution from its employees—this was one of the top requirements I had when looking for a new job and I can happily say it has been fulfilled here.
So I’m now over 3 months in and, although still finding my way in some areas, I’m happy in my role and, through the support and warmth I received from my colleagues, I feel an integral part of the team. I’ve just completed an AWS certification funded by the company (we’re very big on AWS here…) which was both extremely interesting and applicable to the role. To achieve the certification was extremely rewarding, although, like any distinguished qualification, the exam itself was far from easy to prepare for — but that’s a story for another day….
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