Read time 5 min
Dear future colleague,
My name is Patricia, I’m a software developer at Reaktor Amsterdam and this blog post is to share with you what it’s like to move halfway round the world for a job only to be hit by a global pandemic and have to work from home for the rest of your first year!
Before Reaktor I was living in Brazil, working for a global consultancy company and assigned to a client in Chile. The team was split in two: half in Brazil and the other half in Chile and we would often travel to each other’s country to work together in the same place. I was there for about two years and during this time I learned a new language, traveled to a new country, saw new ways of living life, shared funny stories, made amazing friends, and last but not least greatly improved my coding skills. This made me ready for more and that’s when I decided to look for other opportunities abroad – and then Reaktor came into my life.
I could tell you that the whole recruitment process was a dream, but the reality was I liked the company but was terrified of what the job would mean. Imagine a Brazilian living their whole life in a tropical paradise, speaking Portuguese and having friends and family within 15 minutes of home. I was terrified of making this decision to move to a rainy and cold country, of having to speak English all the time and being an ocean away from everyone I know. But Reaktor understood and supported me all the way, even flying me to the Netherlands so I could meet my future colleagues, visit the office, and see the city before making my decision. And yes, in that trip we signed my contract \o/
I would love to tell you that after that it was happy ever after with Reaktor, but it was not. We had no idea that a pandemic would explode during my first week at the company. You read that right: I spent just one week in the office and then we went fully remote. During the time spent in person with Reaktorians all I could hear was about the amazing time they had together, how much knowledge was shared in those hallways, and how much fun they had together during meals and going out. It all seemed easy and natural and I couldn’t wait to live that culture on a daily basis. But then within days our world turned upside down and video became the main way to communicate and the chance to just bump into people at the office disappeared. I was definitely not ready for this – none of us were.
As a shy person it gave me anxiety to think that I needed to be proactive to meet and learn from new people if I really wanted to live the culture I applied for. So I just counted on the few Reakorians I already knew and asked for advice. I had to put aside my shyness and start inviting random people for remote coffee breaks to try and extract all the stories and advice from them that I could in those short minutes. All of this was on top of having to work from home, figure out how to buy black beans at the market (a staple of Brazilian food), and being onboarded in the company. A bunch of small things that together can make you feel helpless at the end of the day.
But of course the pandemic didn’t hit just me. Every individual that was now part of my routine was fighting a different battle related to the “new normal”. Suddenly onboarding became a global initiative and I could spend time with Reaktorians across the world during workshops. Coffee breaks were arranged where we would share favorite books, the art we have at home, our workstation, or play games over a 20 minute video call. There were knowledge sharing sessions, a bot to match people to have one-on-one chats, and sessions to learn how to breathe and avoid burnout. Projects didn’t have physical barriers anymore and even living in Amsterdam I joined a project in Japan. There were no limits anymore, and this means A LOT to Reaktorians.
Reaktorians are what make Reaktor what it is. The first time I saw that with my own eyes was during a monthly meeting when people started asking questions about our financial situation and what might happen to us. Transparency is key to our culture and, well, transparency is what we got. And it hit me hard. Since I was the last one at my office to join the company, in my mind I would be the first to leave if we faced the worst-case scenario. I remember being afraid to buy a coffee maker because it wouldn’t fit in my luggage if I had to go back to Brazil. That’s not a healthy way to work.
I was reaching my limit when I decided to voice my concerns and ask for another transparency session. I had a really deep conversation with our HR team where I opened my heart, spoke all my fears, and listened to what might happen. And then the CEO asked me for a one-to-one. Of course deep inside I was worried that this would be where I got fired, but instead it was an honest and transparent conversation where he again shared all his thoughts with me regarding different potential scenarios.
I won’t lie and say that I felt good and my job was secure, no one could promise that, but I can assure you that I left those conversations certain that I was not just a number in a spreadsheet. I was valued. And I thought to myself again, “this is the place I wanna be”.