I left Brazil when I was 23 years old and I didn’t really have a professional working experience there. I worked as an intern here and there and had one part-time job which was the only one registered in my “working card”. I don’t really know the specific term in English, as I have not yet seen a country that has the same working registration card as Brazil. Anyway, it’s a document where you have all your registered employers and every working person needs to have one. It’s the law.
In Ireland my first jobs were as a cashier in a bargain store, as floor staff and barmaid and as a retail staff. It was only in 2009 when I moved to the business world and when my professional working experience really started. I worked in a small office with the two owners with a footwear distribution company. I’ve learned so much during the time I stayed in the company! In fact, I think that most of what I know about business, on how to run one, I leaned there!
It was only in 2011 that I entered the corporate world! And then everything changed… Oh, the corporate world. Definitely not for everyone. Definitely not! You need to be quick, watch your back (all the time), cover your ass (again, all the time), give more than you can (and want), play the bullshit, swallow a few frogs, fight for something to get better and not always get the credit for and the most important of all, be ambitious! Do not dare to come to work to just do the core job. Even if you do it very well. Only this is not enough.
Yes, the big companies make sure to give you a cool and functional working space, food, treats, drinks, nice parties here and there. If you work hard, you want to play hard too, right? It’s just fair. So, they make sure to balance things out. And yes, we do learn a lot as things change very fast. You must keep up with everything!
I had the privilege to work for three of the biggest tech giant companies out there and for this, I am extremely thankful! I never forget the felling of coming home after my first induction day in the first one I worked for. I was certain that I was a very lucky and special person for getting hired and that I would never leave them! But I did leave them 2 and half years later.
When I was hired for the second company I was once again reassured I was a very special person! I had another wow experience but the truth is, I had listened to the “oh my God you’re so lucky to be here” speech before. Everything sounded a bit familiar and felt familiar too. Once again, 2 and half years later and I was out of there!
When I was hired in the third company, of course I heard again how lucky, amazing and special I was! The speech was also the same as the others and honestly, at that point I had been there done that and I just didn’t get amused or wowed! In this one I stayed just short of a year as life got in the way and I moved to Malta.
So, I think it’s fair to say that my main professional working experience is in the corporate world, more specifically in American tech companies. For the past 6 years I have worked for 3 different companies but it really felt like one! Now that I am out of a so-called corporate company and a different industry I see, feel, live and breathe the difference! Hello freedom, I missed you so much!!!
The hiring process for most (not to say all) of the tech companies are long and exhausting. You need to prove and outstand yourself in every round to many different people. You are interviewed by the recruiter, hiring managers, peers, other managers, directors and whoever else they want to. What happened to trust the hiring manager’s decision? Is that because the hiring managers can’t make a decision on their own or is that a way of not taking the whole blame in case the candidate ends up fucking it up after being hired? So yes, once you are offered the job after this exhausting process you do feel a bit special because, why wouldn’t you? I mean, you were THE chosen one among thousand applicants and you pass all the 100 interview rounds! And in case you are still not really sure you’re special, don’t worry, they will make sure to tell you this in your first day at work.
This is the hiring process I know, or knew. This is the one I was used to. When I moved to Malta and started to hear back from the jobs I applied for I was a bit in shock. The first company that wanted to proceed with my application sent me an email a few weeks later asking me which of the following given dates I was available to come in for an interview. First, I was surprised that the hiring manager was the one contacting me directly and secondly, there was no phone screening. Just come to the office, as casual as this.
The interview was with the hiring manager and it was very light. It was all based in my experience, the usual “walk me through your CV” thing. Of course, she asked me for few examples of things I’ve done but overall it was so relaxed and it only lasted 1 hour. When she thanked me for coming I was like “what do you mean? Don’t I need to stay here for the next 4 hours and meet another 100 people before you decide I am good enough for the job?”. No, it was as simple as that! Thanks for coming we will be in touch and have a nice day. Ok, there was a test later which I didn’t do really well and I have never heard a rejection from them. They just didn’t bother to give me feedback. Something very common in Malta as I have never received a “no thanks” email for all the other jobs I applied for in here.
My second job interview in Malta was as straight forward as the first one, with the difference that I got the job! The hiring manager scheduled a phone interview with me, which we chatted for like 40min and at the end she invited me to come onsite for a face to face chat. The next day I was in the office and we had a casual talk, chatted a bit more about the job, discussed salary expectations and 30 min later I was out of there with an informal job offer.
Until this day I can’t believe how light and relaxed the hiring process seems to be in Malta. But why shouldn’t it be? It’s not rocket science: you see a CV you like and find the candidate suitable for the position, you meet the person face to face, ask straight forward and relevant questions, see if the candidate has potential and then you make a decision. I was hired because I know the job suits me and not because I didn’t crack after meeting 100 people. I was hired because I am capable and not because I am special. I was hired because the hiring manager could see my potential.
Since day one at the job I feel so free and comfortable, as I was supposed to feel! I don’t have one thousand meetings every day anymore, which by the way 90% of them were just a waste of time. Meetings are required whenever there is a real reason and they are short and straight to the point. Do you know what else I don’t have scheduled? 1:1! My God the 1:1s, how I hate them! Ok, I know the reason why 1:1s exist and honestly, some people need them as they don’t feel comfortable approaching their managers to talk about whatever they want to talk.
If I have a problem that I need the manager’s help I will approach him/her and talk about it. I have no problem what so ever to approach people, speak up about anything and more importantly, I will let you know once I feel I am ready to progress in my career. Here, I do what I am supposed to do, I am trusted and if I need any support I know where my manager is and she’s there for me. Just like it should be! The “my door is always open” policy still works just fine.
Why do we must talk every week about what I am working on and how I am doing when you’re the manager and knows very well what I am working on? And if I am unwell or whatever I will let you know! Why twice a year I need to waste almost a day writing down all the projects I have worked on and had an impact on when the manager was there and should know the answer to this? Are annual reviews just a way of making things easier for managers because they can’t remember what everyone in the team worked on individually?
Why every 6 months or every year I must do a career progress plan? Even if I don’t know yet where to go next, I must write down something because I cannot just do what I am doing. My manager “has” to help me with my next step even though they all know that a whole team cannot be promoted! So why the pressure? The good people, who perform well and fight for what they want will make things happen regardless of an Individual Development Plan (the famous IDP).
I was in that corporate, pushing, tiring environment for so long that in my head all companies were like this. It shocked me to know that the world outside the tech bubble is not like this, at all! There are companies doing their own thing without pushing their employees too hard or putting an extra (and unnecessary) pressure on them. Work/life balance you said? Remove the bullshit from your company structure and work/life balance is not even a thing!
Now, do not get me wrong please. I did enjoy the past 6 years working for the tech companies and I did learn a lot. I would not be where I am now if it wasn’t for what I learned in these companies. I met so many amazing and intelligent people, I was part of many Milestones at these companies and am proud of achieving great things together, being there and having my fingerprints all over. Indeed I was lucky to be part of that and I am special. But I am not special because I was accepted In a company that “everybody” wants to be.
This post is not about being ungrateful or trying to fix the tech companies “problems” or any other company’s structure. I don’t know how all companies work and I can only speak about my experience in 3 tech companies. This post is about me opening my eyes and mind as I am now exposed to a completely different work environment. This post is about me being free of the (sometimes) unhealthy work environment tech companies create to their employees with all the unnecessary pressure and unconscious competition against peers. I don’t hear the words awesome, impact, career, career, career anymore on my daily basis! I don’t need to leave my calendar opened to remind me of a “maybe-we-could-skip-this” meeting I must have today. I can work on what I was hired to work on and the extra mile is completely up to me and me only! It’s is refreshing to be experiencing something new for a change and for knowing that not everyone does things the same way. After all, why should they? We all are our own individuals in this world and that’s the reason why we are special!