1. 34

What is the best/worst onboarding experience you have had when starting a new job?

  1.  

  2. 26

    Best: Facebook. Spent six weeks in bootcamp (I think it’s shorter now, or maybe just the time spent out in Menlo Park is shorter for UK employees), trained in breadth in their tools and ways of working, received pitches from the team leads with open positions, and took tasks (paper cut bugs and small features) from interesting teams. You don’t pick your team until the end of bootcamp.

    Worst: current job (Oxford uni research software engineer). No computing equipment, no accounts. Followed up with people in central IT and departmental IT, managed to get accounts (they’d created an account last time I was here in 2000 and reactivated that, which doesn’t result in me getting the piece of paper with the account details on) but no equipment. Worked on a different contract for a week (I’m part time), came back to find someone had taken my desk. Took another desk, got (some) equipment delivered to it! Went away for another week, came back to find someone had taken my other desk.

    I didn’t get on well in the Facebook job but am very happy at the moment, so don’t read too much into your onboarding experience.

    1. 14

      The worst was starting at Nickelodeon in early 2008. To begin with, the hiring process was really weird and took months. I mean months after I did my final interview. I ended up accepting another job, but they called during my 2-week wind down at my previous gig, so I just switched to going there instead.

      I showed up for work and they had no desk. Then they found a spot I could use, but had no computer. Eventually they found an old one no one was using and let me have it. It was a terrible machine, probably one of those bulk discount machines you see at places like Best Buy. Then they had no monitor. I had to wait the majority of the day for them to find me an old CRT that flickered like crazy.

      After that whole mess, I spent a full week with nothing to do. Someone printed out the docs for JBoss and put them on my desk to read. I kept asking for work, but they weren’t sure what to give me.

      It was, by far, the worst onboarding experience I’ve ever had. But it was also the place I worked at the longest. Funny how that works out.

      1. 9

        It was, by far, the worst onboarding experience I’ve ever had. But it was also the place I worked at the longest. Funny how that works out.

        Why did you stick around? What was worthwhile about the job?

        1. 4

          I really liked the people I worked with there. I still have friends who have also moved on, and I worked at a startup with a few of them about a year after I left (which lasted about 2.5 years before crumbling).

          It wasn’t groundbreaking work, but we had fun for the most part.

      2. 12

        Best: tie between ThoughtWorks and DigitalOcean (current). They really make an effort to get you comfortable. At DO, I showed up to a desk with a laptop on it, 4 t shirts, a hoodie, a kindle, stickers, a squeeze toy and a tote bag to carry it all. I had onboarding sessions blended with team time. My team did an awesome job finding me progressively more complex tasks to get me up to speed quick. It felt polished, and it really made my first few months here awesome.

        Worst: I won’t name the name, but I moved across the country - Maine to Utah - for a job. They knew this. First day, I showed up and they said I could just work from home. 2 weeks later I found out they were in Chapter 11, which they did not disclose at my hiring time. My team was sunsetted within 2 months of my joining, and I left after a year.

        1. 3

          I think your worst takes the cake for me compared to the others in the thread so far. Plenty of other process failures and tech issues but yours sounds borderline malicious as well as incompetent.

          1. 3

            What’s scary is that I’ve seen multiple companies hiring until the day they went bankrupt.

            Before and sometimes in interviews I ask if the company is VC funded or how the company makes money because it shows interest as well as providing you some idea if they might be going broke.

        2. 5

          Best: Seek … we reached a verbal agreement on the contract on the phone on Thursday evening about 6pm and they asked me to come in Friday morning to meet the team, I figured it’d be a brief hello but when I got in there was the filled in contract, an access card and a map of how to find my desk waiting for me at reception. On my desk was a newly imaged workstation and a note to let me know that if I didn’t like the keyboard or mouse there was a big box of various spare keyboards in the store room (see map provided).

          Worst: Telstra.

          1. 5

            Best: I joined a startup in the early days. Not so early that there’s was nothing to talk about (I was employee number 50-something (big sales team)), but early enough that there was a lot going on daily, so any standard onboarding documentation would’ve been useless.

            I was given a 30ish minute ultra-fast-paced stream of consciousness brain dump by a fueled-up ADD-type jack-of-all-trades developer. Zero fluff. Oddly enough, this is exactly what works for me. It was a great fit. I did worry about other people though.

            Worst: Microsoft. There’s a lot to like here, but seriously, almost nothing works on day one. I also have never worked for another similarly sized company, so I have no basis for comparison.

            1. 4

              No one told me database migrations were in temp/migrate.sql, and you had to know which one to (manually) copy/paste and run 🤦

              One of the first things I did was implement a basic a migration system.

                1. 2

                  Forgot about this one, good to read again. What I don’t remember realizing was:

                  Its not really a small company, dev team is around 40+ people

                  That’s some wow. If you’re a 2-person startup hiring your first junior developer, it’s still bad practice, but kind of understandable to have full-permission creds to the production DB on an onboarding document that instructs the user to run a test script that wipes the database. But then, my personal toy projects that I don’t expect to ever get a significant number of real users on have better practices than that.

                  If you’re at the 40 devs stage, it’s way, way past time to tighten things up. I’d bet like 80% of the devs knew perfectly well their practices were way too cowboy for their size, so management must have been firm on not improving them. Which makes the disaster 100% on their heads.

                2. 4

                  At my current job, a winter storm caused my early morning flight for a day trip to HQ to be delayed past the point of feasibility for the first day’s activities. The company had prepared my laptop for my arrival at HQ instead of my local office. IT overnighted the laptop while I showed up for my first day at the local office with no one expecting me there until two days later. To my new team’s credit, they pulled together tech and org chart review with little preparation and got as much ready for computerless me as they could.

                  On day two, I started to feel queasy around noon. My laptop was scheduled to arrive at 3 pm and I was struggling to keep my composure and focus during all of the organizational meetings scheduled for Tuesdays back then. My laptop arrived, I turned it on to do the setup things that could only be done from the corporate network (e.g., VPN setup), drove home, and vomited before 5 pm. I was out sick for the next three days, the most work I’d missed from illness in more than five years! My new insurance hadn’t kicked in yet and I’d only five days earlier acquired on the advice of my recruiter some ACA Marketplace coverage to last the month until the insurance kicked in.

                  While I was out, I missed more corporate onboarding stuff. It took a month to get confirmation that the company had enough information to pay me and I filed for insurance on the last day and last hour of my enrollment window because I wasn’t on some mailing list for reminders. For the next few weeks, I became the squeaky wheel as I worked through onboarding documents myself to find a ton of dead links, old systems still online but input to it ignored, and other edge cases the company hadn’t considered when someone doesn’t go through the happy onboarding path.

                  A month after I started, I was automatically terminated in the system – IT lockout, disappeared from all but the core HR system – because one very important piece of federal paperwork – I-9 – didn’t make it into the system. I was locked out for four days include a weekend without clarity as to if I was actually still employed for the first 48 hours while my manager scrambled to find the right person to assure both of us of that. I dreaded searching more and was hours away from calling one of the companies I’d turned down to see if they’d still hire me if I was fired on some technicality that was not my fault. It was all just a failsafe to keep the company from hiring someone they couldn’t confirm was legally allowed to work in the US. Someone turned off the klaxxons and I filled out a new I-9 and got my job access back.

                  tl;dr don’t schedule travel during winter storm season in the midwest or you’re going to have a weird onboarding experience

                  1. 1

                    Damn, that’s rough! I hope it’s gotten smoother since.

                    1. 2

                      The team’s been great and afforded me a lot of time to work on our own onboarding processes, despite how rarely we hire. I was the first new person in six months and the previous hire before that was two years prior.

                      1. 1

                        That’s a great outcome. Glad it got better for you and probably next person down the line.

                  2. 3

                    Worst: As an intern for several months, finally received my computer halfway through the last week on the job. The guy I was assigned to always arrived late, took a long lunch, and left early. He also went on several work trips during the months I was assigned there. He never would give me anything to do, and the only time he talked to me at all was an in-depth discussion about how big a Spiderman fan he was and how Marvel didn’t do Venom justice. IT refused to acknowledge the computer request for a long time, and other departments couldn’t help or task me with anything due to internal politics.

                    Best: Show up, get garage keycard/office key, all permissions set up to all appropriate repos/wikis, brand new laptop (“custom however you want”). Then multiple days a week, there were scheduled “training sessions” where me and the other new guy had several domain experts come in and teach us in-depth all the ins and outs of what the company did from a “what clients are trying to do” and then from a “how we do this with our technology” perspective. All that onboarding was amazingly helpful and got us up to speed and contributing very quickly.

                    1. 3

                      Best: as an intern, I got my own desk facing a wall of windows, pretty much to myself! I think they even had free granola bars. I met with the project manager and the developer, and they showed me the purpose of the tool and some of its code’s structure.

                      Not bad: got a laptop & an outdated onboarding document that I spent the next few weeks making current. In a sprint retro, a dev asked if they were allowed to use git yet; the response was a mixture of laughter and no and why-are-you-still-asking.

                      Worst: spent the first month without Internet, in a separate building, then the next 5 months waiting for Visual Studio. No onboarding docs, design docs, specs or reqs: nothing but reading code. And memorizing digits of π.

                      1. 3

                        First job out of college, I had a large paint bucket as a chair for the first two weeks. I was told to use their software for a couple days and then get to fixing tickets. My boss was a “self-taught developer” who genuinely barely understood the basics. By self-taught developer he meant, he had spent some time in access. He clearly felt threatened by people who were actually trained so he tried to create a hostile environment to push out any new employees under him. I stayed for a year until I got a better job.

                        1. 4

                          Day 2:

                          • The LDAP server is not working
                          • We have an LDAP server?
                          1. 2

                            Hey, you know computers, right?

                            Uhh, sure.

                            Cool. The computer guy just quit. Here are 20k lines of Perl.

                            I can say some things about this industry, but not that my first experience of it wasn’t representative.

                            1. 1

                              Best: small (now-defunct) startup. Got to pick my machine via a short email discussion in the weeks before starting, everything sitting on my desk on day 1, got access to everything as we stumbled upon it in the first week (engineering team of 6 people in one room, there was really no need to prepare everything) - got some easy “we kinda want that but it’s not prio #1” tasks in the first week and everyone was there for questions

                              Medium: Signed the contract only a few days before day 1, so didn’t get to choose any customization options besides “lenovo or mac”. Got a small side desk in a room of formerly 4. Nothing great, but no real problem here. There was no bigger room available and it was a normal desk with a normal chair - just a little cramped in that corner, and I had seen the room before. Bit meh was starting in December when half of the team was already leaving for the holiday season, but I got a few small tasks and instructions what to read. Not great, but workable.

                              Worst: Not 100% the same, but when being sent to a customer’s office for a while and then basically everything the other posters mentioned. No desk, no chair, no access to anything. Just that it doesn’t matter so much, because they’re paying you by the hour they usually hurry up and it gets fixed soonish. And you know this is not your employer, but you’ll only stay for a few weeks or months.

                              1. 1

                                not really a fault of the companies, but I’ve had my laptop password stop working twice. Once on a Mac and another time on a windows machine.

                                The Mac one was bizarre. I would boot into recovery mode and run a sudo command in the terminal, which would prompt for my password. Putting that in would work. Would proceed to the login screen and enter my password and that wouldn’t work.

                                Honestly it’s one of those issues where I would love to dig into the root cause but i don’t know how and I didn’t have the time :(

                                (if anyone has any insight as to why it would happen, or some readings, please comment!)

                                1. 5

                                  I’m not too knowledgeable about enterprise mac stuff, but it’s possible for your account local to the machine to have a different password than your account in some LDAP system, if the laptop is configured to authenticate that way. Maybe something like that happened.