This is an overdue post.
I try really hard to know every single person who works at the company. I think the only way to break down “work silos” is to actually befriend people and know what they’re enjoy. If you don’t feel comfortable walking up to someone and asking how their weekend was, how could you possibly ask them for professional advice? How could you say “I don’t know how to do this, can you help me”? Maybe it’s just me but those seem intimidating, sometimes even with friends! I’m guessing a lot of people I work with think I’m just naturally social (or god forbid, charismatic).
The sincere answer is that it takes real, active work to talk to people and be friends. When new employees join, I try and make a mental note to say hi to them during the first few days and introduce myself. During the first work social event (happy hour, board game night, or something more informal) I actively try and hang around them. Ask questions, listen to their answers, talk if there is silence. If they’re just hanging around at their desk and not sure if they should “finish what they’re working on” or come hang out, I give them a nudge in the correct direction1. I really think everyone should try doing this. Icebreakers used to be hard, then I looked around the office. We have an open office and everyone is headphones on most of the day. “What are you listening to? What do you like to listen to?” is so trivial but offers so much. I’m always surprised by what people answer. Either I know it and love it, or I find some new music. It’s a win-win situation.
This applies in particular to interns at our company. Since we’re
NotLikeTheOtherCompanies, our interns do
RealWork, so it’s even more important that all of the above happens. We have a crazy hiring process honestly and it seems to set some conflicting goals. We want to focus on diversity and inclusion, especially in the intern class, but they are required effectively clear the full time bar to get in. I have a heavy hand in deciding who gets in for the EE class, a responsibility and power that is not lost on me. My freshmen year, my dad got me an internship at IBM since he worked there. I strongly believe my career snowballed from that, so I know how important having these internships are.
I am so incredibly proud of the group of interns we hired for this summer. Every one of them busted their asses doing work that should’ve been way over their heads. They were a diverse cast of folks that I had a fantastic time getting to know. They’re not all gone yet, but the summer ends soon. It kind of sucks getting to know all these great people and then wondering if you’ll ever see them again - probably not! I made a lot of awesome friends during my internships and have probably only seen three or four again. Life is like that sometimes. I hope they know if they need anything, they can always ask2. That’s what friends are for.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great summer for everyone. Some bad things happened and people didn’t really know who to talk or what to do about it. I don’t blame, and I had no idea what do either. I barely do now. What I know is that rather sit idly by, they went and talked about it. They trusted me. Listening, talking, assuring, hiring, fixing, solving, whatever actioning verb comes to mind right now, they’re all secondary to trusting people. This might sound small, and maybe in terms of physical exertion it is. To me, it meant just as much as moving the world. Thanks, y’all. I
hope think am glad I helped.
I’m still not sure why people would do that. Charisma and trust are practically orthogonal in my mind. At the risk of sounding exceedingly arrogant, I wanted to remind people that I’m human too. Good days and bad days and a little of everything in between, with a whole lot of self-doubt (the above strikethroughs should make that clear). One self-help action that I can now recommend: make a folder called
you did good. Put snippets in there of when people thank you. Sometimes when you feel like shit and picking yourself up seems impossible, these small pieces of trust can add serious lift.
Look I know it’s not music, you’re preaching to the choir here. However, the music and audio in general in this video resonates on a few levels, so I decided just to go with it.
It is important to me that you feel safe
I want you to feel
Like this can still be your home