What it’s like to start at Basecamp

I’ve been doing some archeology through our archives lately. I noticed a few patterns, including discovering a series about what it’s like to spend your first few weeks here at Basecamp. Looking back over the years, it’s neat to see people’s experiences evolve over time as our company as grown.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking a dive through time in these posts and seeing echoes of their experiences from my own trial month. I definitely felt vulnerable and not the most confident in myself when I started 4 years ago. I couldn’t name it at the time, but I was dealing with impostor syndrome as I dropped into a new team that I couldn’t even physically see most days.

Faking it until I made it helped, but that festering feeling of fear persisted. I think my eventual cure was, and still is, a relentless drive to leave the campsite cleaner (and better) than when I found it. Even if it’s a single line of code, a comment, or a little ping saying thanks — it matters.

This insight from my trial month continues to ring true:

One thing I learned really quickly was that our users are creative: If you give them the ability to do anything, they will do everything!

I’m surprised and delighted on a daily basis with how people use Basecamp. Our Everyone on Support days remind me of this on a regular basis! Since that first experience learning about how our users extend our products and their functionality, I’ve been hooked on helping them get even more out of our apps.

My coworkers have also reflected on starting at Basecamp and how it’s impacted their life, craft, and outlook. Here’s a few other highlights from other “first month” posts:

The 37signals community is huge! Every change is noticed — sometimes within minutes of being launched. Receiving instant feedback to your work is great (at least so far 🙂

Working at 37signals

I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how much everyone genuinely cares about the user experience with the applications they maintain. Everything from page response times increasing by a few milliseconds to minimizing interruptions during deployments or even the impact of the number of http redirects on load times — it’s all constantly being discussed and debated.

One month in Operations

While working on the Basecamp marketing site, I once made the mistake of sharing progress without real copy. My first feedback? Rework the words.

One Month in Design

Fortunately the treatment was simple. I just had to push myself to be vulnerable, to trust in my teammates, and to open up and let a little light in.

The joy (and a good dose of pain) of my first few months at Basecamp

I enjoy finding the common threads that weave across everyone’s experiences with their first few weeks. We’re constantly learning how to make this onboarding experience better for our new employees, and we’re not perfect at it still. Out of everyone’s first month posts so far, there’s a few lessons to be learned:

  • It takes some time to get used to the REMOTE culture, but it’s worth it!
  • Finding your balance and making your schedule your own is paramount.
  • Breaking things (sometimes immediately) is OK and expected.
  • We’re all in this together, despite being so physically apart!

I’m hoping we will have more to share about our first experiences in 2016. If you have something (or someone) that made starting at your job special, I’d love to hear about it.