JOINING A COMPANY DURING A PANDEMIC
Written by: Stephanie Waldeck and Helen Erb
Stephanie Waldeck specializes in designing and implementing creative marketing solutions for her team. She creates all marketing collateral to promote properties and assist in new business development as well as client specific plans focused on their objectives and needs. Stephanie is responsible for all promotional and leasing materials, social media platforms, digital marketing activities and event coordination. Stephanie also manages team business operations and ensures clients have constant communication and up to date information.
Helen Erb specializes in designing and implementing creative marketing solutions for the Colliers Columbus Retail Services Group. She specializes in the representation of commercial investment properties where she is held responsible for all marketing, administrative, and operational tasks. These tasks require focus, accurate prioritization, and organization to better support and help accomplish her teams goals. Helen enjoys the challenge of pushing creative limits, while working in a fast-paced environment. She also assists the marketing and research director on special projects and corporate initiatives both internally and externally. Keep reading to get Stephanie and Helen’s take on finding a job and joining a new company during a pandemic.
What was the job search process like during COVID? How did it differ from previous job searches in a pre-COVID world?
Stephanie: My job search started before COVID. I had two interviews, one in February and the second in the beginning of March, so I actually just missed searching during COVID!
Helen: I had begun my job search well before COVID hit, so it certainly didn’t make it any easier. There was definitely an understanding that it was an unprecedented time and no one really knew how long it would go on for. But I knew that companies needed to fill openings almost as badly as I wanted a new job, so I tried to hold onto that sentiment as motivation. My first interview with Colliers was on February 28th. I remember March 18th vividly as the day I took my whole office set-up home from my previous job to start working remotely indefinitely, and then my first day at Colliers was July 6th. So several months went by in between where I was just sending my interviewer, Dawn, brief emails to check in, knowing nothing had changed but trying to stay fresh and relevant.
What was the onboarding process like during COVID? How did it differ from previous jobs in a pre-COVID world?
Stephanie: I began onboarding in the peak of COVID, so it was 100% virtual. It was certainly different preparing for my first day, at home, and “meeting” everyone online. My manager, Dawn, did a great job of meeting with me and onboarding me as well as introducing me to the marketing team and scheduling trainings and check-ins with everyone. My brokers, Dan and Michelle, met with me constantly as well. Luckily with Teams and Zoom, not only could I see people, but I could see their screens, so I was able to see what programs they were in and walk-through tutorials with them, just like I would if I was in the same room. I was really lucky that everyone in marketing, my brokers, HR, etc. was willing to answer my questions or hop on a video call whenever I needed help. There were times I would ask someone if I could just “shadow” them for a bit, aka watch what they were doing on their computer – seems so strange, but it was a way for me to learn processes and best practices! There was definitely a big learning curve coming from residential real estate, but everyone was very willing to help where they could.
Helen: I was asked if I was comfortable coming into the office for my final interview before being hired and my first week of training. There were new procedures like masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer and bleach, but other than that I think it was a very smooth and organized process. I started off working 2 days from home and 3 days in the office. My manager, Dawn, walked me around to introduce me to people, but I think we were only at about 30% capacity at that point so it was largely empty. But that did make it easy to remember the names and faces of the people I had met! The pandemic pushed us to utilize new resources and forms of communication, but I don’t in any way feel that I had a lesser experience because of it.
What has been the biggest challenge in joining a new company during the pandemic?
Stephanie: At first, I felt a lot of uncertainty with everything shutting down so fast. I didn’t know if I would even end up starting in the position – luckily, they still needed me! The biggest challenge starting completely virtually was not having the ability to get to know people in the office. I couldn’t bump into someone while grabbing a cup of coffee, or run over to someone in marketing to say hi and ask them a question. I felt like all of my outreach and communication was only when I needed help with something. However, Dawn did a great job of helping me feel like part of the team since she was having us all meet online every morning. It was a great way for me to get to know everyone! Similarly, Ali and Leslie on the Operations team organized Zoom Happy Hours which were awesome. I loved having the chance to meet people in other departments in a relaxed setting – plus we played games, so it was funny to hear everyone joking and knocking on each other a bit. It was very encouraging for me to see so many ways Colliers was trying maintain their culture and keep their employees engaged and connected.
Helen: I don’t know that there’s anything big that stands out to me. I went into it understanding that things would be a little all over the place, but frankly I was just happy to be here! So I adopted a go-with-the-flow attitude and tried to adapt to whatever was happening. I felt like Colliers was well-prepared to train me and bring me into the fold despite the adversity of COVID. I think my gratitude for getting the job overshadowed any challenges. I certainly feel very lucky to be someone who got a new job in the midst of a global pandemic instead of being laid off like many, many others.