The Nerdery: Orientation Day
I stayed at a hotel very close to The Nerdery office… and so I opted to just walk over in the morning. Though I was dragging my luggage with me, it was only a 10 minute walk… and felt like the thing to do.
There was something about this commute that just felt… nice. My regular day to day involves a Metra train, then walking through the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago.
Today’s commute though – the sun was out, the air was cool. It felt like a breath of fresh air. A new way to start the day, and a herald to the new start of many upcoming days as well.
Outside the Nerdery building, about to step inside.
A brief view of the kitchen area. Directly behind me is a large meeting room, where I spent most of my time. Though I did get a tour of the space, I didn’t stop to take many photos (but boy howdy, did I want to – there was so much cool stuff everywhere).
A brief tally of things that I recall seeing, during my tour:
– One large poster/cutout of Jean-Luc Picard.
– One large poster/image of Neil deGrasse Tyson.
– One life-size Darth Vader figure.
– One life-size Boba Fett figure.
– Three dogs.
– One TARDIS.
There were also a ton of awesome conference room names, one of which was “Mordor.” I wanted to pause the tour, so I could walk in and make a crack about how I just simply walked into Mordor. But then I realized I was probably the 100th person to make that joke, and decided to let the moment pass.
One thing I wish I would have photographed: in the kitchen, set up on a table near the bagels… were two chess boards. Both of which also had chess clocks alongside them. Presumably for some frantic speed chess sessions. My heart was aflutter.
Of all the really cool things I saw and experienced – one thing stood out by far. It was the very first meeting I had of the day, actually.
At 9:00 AM several folks came into the main meeting room where I was set up, for what I understood to be a basic meet and greet. In addition to several people at the management level, the CEO, CSO, CFO, and VP of Operations were also in attendance.
I expected basic introductions, and figured the whole thing would be a quick hello/goodbye thing. Instead, everyone stood around in a circle and introduced themselves. They spoke briefly about their role, but mostly everyone just talked about what they did over the weekend.
As this went on, I realized several things. Each person wasn’t really focusing on their specific role in the company. Each person gave an overview of their position, but really spent the bulk of their time talking about themselves, their families, their lives.
While I got to learn a bit about each person, I also got the opportunity to watch everyone interacting with one another. I was able to observe how they spoke to one another and, more importantly, how they joked with one another. There was a genuine ease of conversation, a lot of back and forth, everyone smiling and laughing.
Typically, several new hires go through their orientation day together. But in my case, I was the only new hire that day. So everyone was gathered to do their introductions, and to basically meet me.
As I scanned the room and heard about each person’s role, I thought about all the other things they must have on their desks, waiting for them to do still. It was a Monday morning, first thing. And everyone surely had emails, phone calls, meetings with staff and clients waiting for them. I imagined they all had more pressing, more important things to attend to.
In fact, at a certain point, I started to imagine little dollar signs appearing and dissipating above everyone’s heads. How much money was it costing the company to have these people standing around, instead of taking those phone calls or answering those emails?
And then it dawned on me: they were all here to meet me. A developer who many likely wouldn’t see again anytime soon, since I work and live in a different city in a different state.
These people decided that on a Monday morning at 9:00 AM, the first thing they did on the first day of the week… was to make it their priority to meet me. And to listen to me talk about my bunny rabbits, and how I researched dumpsters and how I threw out concrete/brick over the weekend.
I was quite floored by this meeting (and still am, the more I reflect on it). A company’s culture doesn’t persist without effort and dedication, and the effort and priority placed on meeting new hires… that wasn’t lost on me.
Standing there, talking with everyone, I really did feel like a Co-President of the company. A 30 minute meeting is really a small thing, but this really shaped the remainder of my day there.
Today was really an incredible first day. And really looking forward to the next, and the next.
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