‘Waiting is comforting as long as the desired object doesn’t turn up to change the balance of expectations.’ I have borrowed this line from a beautiful book called Waiting For Godot and has stayed with me ever since I read it. I loved it instantly but understood the line’s true meaning when the object I was waiting for arrived – my first day at FrontM, my first time at a start-up.
It was comforting to know that I had secured a nice, new job. I had always heard that working for a startup is an exciting/stressful/fun/scary experience, and yes, all those emotions can exist together. To add to it, I kept overthinking about what I should do to make a good first impression. How should I dress? Who will be my team members? What should I do for them to like me? Should I speak upon chance or observe at a distance? Should I be friendly or professional? How am I going to manage to work with teammates in different time zones? Am I going to have a tough time getting used to their accent? Will it be okay to say “I beg your pardon” ten times? … and the list goes on.
But I was lucky. I had Lisa, my senior and encouraging boss, who gave me a structured orientation and planned everything meticulously to help me through the initial week. She introduced me to other seniors and my colleagues in the company to talk to and seek help from. Lisa had said startup life would be dynamic and active. A typical day at a startup doesn’t really exist. Projects can change quickly and frequently. Sometimes the goal of the entire company pivots instantly, as the market changes and consumer interests shift.
And that’s how things have been since day one. Each day brings new challenges, new learning opportunities. When I start my day at 1:30 PM which is 9 AM in London (yes, that is one of the major changes I’m trying to get accustomed to – not starting your work after a cup of chai but after a hurried lunch), I first look at my calendar to check if I have upcoming team member introductions. Next, I spend some time training and learning a new tool I need for my job. When you’re brand new at the company, you have to spare some time for these things and learn to multi-task. Once I’ve done that, I line up the day’s social media posts, which include content from our blog, and interesting, relevant news from around the web.
Afternoons vary widely and depend on what’s going on at the company that week. Some days are PR-focused, while others are spent learning or helping out other departments in their projects. Major change #2 – this is typical of the startup world, I guess– if you’re after stability and consistency, look elsewhere.
Coming to the company’s structure, it’s a flat organization as start-ups usually are. FrontM’s is a compact team of backend engineers, developers, analysts, a UI & UX designer, the QA team, and the marketing people (and that includes me). The one (struggling to) write this blog (grins) also happens to be the content writer-cum-social-media-executive at FrontM.
When I first browsed the company’s website, the information sort of went over my head. Not all of it but most of it. Only the words AI, Maritime and Aviation stayed with me till I interacted with my seniors and colleagues. Many thanks to them, who were extremely supportive and generous with their time and patience, for explaining what the company is all about.
I haven’t written anything about my interview process or how I shifted from an ed-tech start-up to a tech one, have I? To cut a long story short, here it is: gets a call from a foreign number – thinks ‘is it Amazon?’ – decides to not discard it as spam – on picking up finds out it’s an exciting job offer – is intrigued and delighted when you find out that the speaker has taken efforts to read your bio on a forgotten-about-job-finder-website – well, yeah, that’s it. The interview process started on a lovely note because my boss took the pains of thoroughly going through my resume. My initial rounds of interviews were really all about why I love sharks, English, and drinking chai (laughs, but not joking). This has never happened before! Semi-final and final rounds were about testing my writing skills and understanding my job profile which by the way is just what I was looking for – lots of social media management + little content writing. The best part of it was not being asked to write the so-called ‘copy test’ like most companies or even start-ups that hire writers usually task them with. For the first time ever, submitting an assignment (please note that I have not used the dreaded term ‘copy test’) was a pleasant experience.
Love for languages drew me to copywriting and the shock of an old, forgotten bio having caught someone’s attention brought me to FrontM. But that’s not it. What FrontM does is out of this world – not because they are the pioneers in what they do – but because of what they are striving to achieve. What is that? Uninterrupted connectivity in the remotest of places through the apps they build. My list of unsung heroes only had mothers, soldiers, and animal welfare workers in it. But today, it also includes seafarers. I have become more aware of their struggles and the services they provide to the world. Now I am going to whisper a thank you to seafarers every time I see the status of an online purchase being ‘shipped’ or the next time I buy new clothes.
I’m brand new at the company and to be honest, not even eligible to give any advice on whether one should work at a start-up, etcetera etcetera. All I know is that golden opportunities knock seldom, so better grab them, as I did.
Part of me always wanted to be involved in a startup. I’ve wanted to help build something. I’ve wanted to make an impact, and I’ve wanted to have that feeling of being depended upon. This past rainy season, I felt it was as good a time as any to make the leap. I’m glad I did and eager to see how my experiences at FrontM shape my career and future. The only question remaining is when do we get together to have a cup of chai, soon I hope!
Author: Radhika Nemawarkar