Speaking for new employees everywhere, the first few days are somewhat of a whirlwind. It’s quite the chore keeping your feet grounded. Office life doesn’t slow down for you; you speed up for the office. It’s an exciting transition time and you want to stand out early. Let me take you on my journey as I breached the MentorMate walls for the first time as the “new guy” this past week…
Waltzing through the doors on my first day, I was dead set on making excellent, lasting impressions. I had recently updated my wardrobe with all sorts of bold colors. I had been told by an unreliable source that the bold look was “in”. My plethora of salmon-colored and radioactive shirts are evidence that I bought in to this advice. I rounded the corner into the office cubicle farm and was greeted enthusiastically by a few of my new cubemates. I was to be joining the Marketing Team as an SEO Specialist. One of my new neighbors, Alex, took it upon himself to lead me through a quick tour of the office. We soon found ourselves in the break room. “This is where the coffee is born”, I was told. Having been the self-proclaimed coffee master at my previous job, I saw the empty coffee pot as an opportunity to establish myself and make a great impression. I would brew the greatest coffee ever tasted this morning!
to each other
Casually, I assumed the familiar task of pouring water through the hatch and loaded up the filter with coffee grounds. Alex was clearly well-practiced at hiding his amazement. My over-confidence quickly turned to panic. As I reached towards the cabinet located directly above the coffee maker, I administered an accidental uppercut to the machine, sending splashes of filtered water into orbit. As the water rained down, a small river formed on the counter and began to drizzle onto the floor. I was definitely making an impression. Fortunately for me, Alex enjoyed this event to the fullest, laughing at my misfortune. He scored the battle:
- Ryan: 1
- Black and Decker: 0
- Caffeine-deprived MentorMaters: -1
Following that mishap, I was quickly met with my next opportunity to make a name for myself. I caught wind that two MentorMate developers were in the process of creating a mobile application allowing users to make sports picks for prizes. As I have prior experience working in the business of sport, I knew I could provide some useful insight. I listened to the office chatter that morning and heard the words, “wizard”, “mana”, and “pwned” early and often. I did not hear the words, “hat trick”, “LeBron James”, or “Sportscenter’s Top 10”.
This was not overly shocking to me; custom software developers do not have a reputation for being sports enthusiasts. Like a lion stalking its prey, I waited at my desk, keenly listening for a golden opportunity to present itself. I would wow my co-workers with some serious sports knowledge! Then it happened, “Are there football leagues other than the NFL?” I quietly replied, “CFL, NCAA, Arena Football…” Their eyes turned towards me. That was a big moment. The reigning office sports junkie had overheard and, giddy as ever, congratulated me for helping skyrocket the office sports junkie total to an incredible two people. I thought about aggressively high-fiving in response to the flattering statement, but pulled back, trying to play it cool. Perhaps we will play fantasy football together in the fall as a reward. I liked the way things were progressing in my new habitat.
Take a look at the photo on the right. I had obviously done my homework in this sector. Listed as one of many office perks, ping pong seemed to be a favorite of many at MentorMate. This was something I could get used to. Earlier in life, I had gone through a brief phase where I dedicated my paychecks towards expensive ping pong paddles and high-quality ping pong balls – like I somehow possessed the expert touch to make these tools come to life and perform how they were meant to. I brought this same foolhardy attitude with me as I was challenged by Alex to the first best-of-three office pong match of my career. It would be an easy victory, I thought. He was a slice of stale wheat bread; I was the toaster. The contest began and Alex scored fast and furiously. I found myself sweating. Perhaps I had misjudged him with my wheat bread classification. Three hard-fought games later and I had been defeated. Tales of our matchup spread swiftly throughout the office. Everyone wanted to battle the new guy. I soon found myself pitted against a gauntlet of MentorMate challengers. I fought valiantly, winning a few, but mostly losing many. Upon completion of my severe trouncing, I shuffled back to my desk and was promptly informed that I had brought shame to the Marketing Team. I have since made it my mission to restore our honor and will be bringing in my overpriced paddle to the office post haste.
his unconventional appearance …
ping some pongs
As the days went on, I picked up on a few constants around the office. There is a homemade hacky sack that frequently gets tossed at unsuspecting co-workers on a whim. Lunch is a fun, collaborative topic. The office ping pong table is sacred (coming soon, “How I Saved the Ping Pong Table” by Jacob Larson). The folks at MentorMate were smart, goofy, worked hard, and had fun doing it. That last bit, paired with the hacky sack attacks, sounded like a formula for success. Turns out, it is: MentorMate is fast-growing and plans to add an additional 60-70 employees to the team before the year is through. What I’m learning to be great about the MentorMate culture is its acceptance and appreciation for its employees. I am learning I never needed to impress anyone or establish my footing; joining the MentorMate team did that for me. To me, any work environment that encourages and fosters individuality, creativity, and input from any employee at any time is nothing short of heroic. We hold weekly “delivery meetings” to share our happiness, our productivity, and our highs/lows from the week. We’ve already had an all-company BBQ and I’m less than two weeks in. Simply put, although I’m the new guy I feel like I’m valued and part of something great.
…now where’s that hacky sack?