Chimpin' Like Whoa

Posted by Matt Farmer on January 23, 2017 · 4 mins read

Last week was my first week at MailChimp. I want to share a few specific, unorganized thoughts coming out of that week about my experience as a first-week employee of the company.

  • The on boarding experience at MailChimp was intentionally thought out. This is a big difference from my past positions where on boarding was more ad-hoc. Historically, I’ve felt like a burden as a new employee. MailChimp’s approach goes a long way toward making me feel valued from Day 1, which is a much better emotional foot to start off on.

  • Humility is one of the core values of the company, and it shows in my interactions with the coworkers I met last week. Throughout the week members of every department sat with the new hires and answered our questions about their share of what we do. They spent time actually getting to know us and asking what departments we were in and what we’d be doing. Furthermore, that includes IT and legal, departments that in my past experiences tended to be a bit more aloof from the rest of the company.

  • Intentional discussion about how we each communicate is a part of the orientation process. MailChimp uses Birkman assessments to get a sense of how each of the new hires communicates. The company also does regular sessions with teams to help ensure that people are communicating effectively.

  • I didn’t have any time in my first week to write code. This isn’t a one size fits all thing — MailChimp is larger than most other organizations I’ve worked with, but after experiencing the intentional learning time and discussion up front, I think I’m going to be less of an advocate for “first pull request on the first day” than I have been in the past. A week long series of sessions certainly wouldn’t make sense for a small start up, but in reflecting on my past experiences I think that my first few months at my previous jobs would have been less anxiety filled with some intentional time to listen and learn.

  • This is the first company I’ve worked for that handles security so well. I won’t go into details for Obvious Reasons™ — but the security policies established are sensible for our threat level without being overbearing. IT has also done a great job of making security accessible to the less technical members of the organization. I don’t fall into that category, obviously, but I still noticed how smooth the process was and how well written the documentation is. Should both of those fail, the IT folks are also super easy to reach and willing to answer questions.

  • This is the most diverse company I’ve ever worked for. I’m not qualified to speak on how we got to the point we’re at now, but technology companies have a really lousy track record with diversity and I’m really proud to work for one that is taking it seriously. A pastor friend of mine once shared this quote with me: “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” I can’t recall the original author, but it rings true in this situation.

TL;DR: I’m really excited for week two, and that’s a fantastic feeling. It’s also been about three weeks since I’ve touched any code in any significant capacity — so I’m starting to get that old itch to fire up my editor again and get into the weeds on something challenging.