Data Science Engineer Thaïs Bendixen reflects on her experience of joining UP42 in the midst of a global pandemic.
The first day of work in a new company is always the most exciting one. You become familiar with your new office space, share the first cup of coffee with your coworkers, and dive into your newly attained responsibilities. However, in the situation that we are living in today, onboarding looks completely different.
I joined UP42 over a month ago as a Data Science Engineer. After my studies, I had a strong desire to be part of a fast-growing company such as UP42, which encourages ownership and critical thinking. The Data Science team is mainly involved in the implementation of software blocks that access, manipulate, and analyze geospatial imagery.
My first day with the team was spent at home in front of the laptop in a Zoom meeting. One of my first thoughts was that I would probably have to buy a more comfortable chair soon. My back was already complaining. But that thought quickly dissipated. In a matter of seconds, I was thrown into introductions and onboarding presentations. Each department individually presented itself in short but sweet sessions. Even though we didn't meet in person, these introductions truly felt personal. Knowing that these time slots were specifically designated for us newbies to meet each team member, ensured that I felt comfortable asking all the questions that I had. I had many! The sessions felt like 1-on-1 conversations and removed a bit of the nervousness from the onboarding situation.
From day one I had a full calendar. This ensured a smooth transition into the new job and also made me feel like someone was holding my hand through the onboarding process. Regular check-ins and a buddy program helped me connect with my team members and substituted the well-known office coffee breaks.
I was pleasantly surprised about how well UP42 adapted to remote work. With online pair programming, my coworkers could watch over my shoulder as I ventured into building my first custom block. I had my very own Mr. Myagi who figuratively made me wash his car by letting me work on technical debt tasks. Very soon, I was able to produce an example on how to use the UP42 Python SDK for the processing of radar data and to contribute to open source projects such as the sharpening block—which helps customers understand how they can implement their own blocks.
Lunch on the other hand was not something to look forward to anymore. The first week I heavily underestimated how much time is necessary to whip up a meal. Sharing a small kitchen with my 3 roommates meant we had to plan a choreographed kitchen dance to get our food ready. Meal prepping has become my new best friend.
Remote onboarding means communication is more complicated and frustration due to bad internet connections is more frequent. But it also forces you to improve your communication skills and to listen. You also don't have to stand in front of your wardrobe as long, to think about what you're going to wear that day.
With lockdown restrictions in Berlin having relaxed a little, I'm even getting to see my new colleagues in person every now and then—something that I'm sure none of us will take for granted after lockdown! I'm grateful for the modern technology that enables us to continue to work together, from afar, especially as the world continues to face the current crisis.
Want to work with Thaïs? Check out UP42 positions here!