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Starting A Job In Times Of Crisis, Part 1

Starting a Job in Times of Crisis, Part 1

“Welcome to the team. Please stay at home.”

In a series of blog posts, three young women describe how starting a new job during the beginning of the Corona crisis has turned out completely different than expected and how the transition to the “New Normal” has started. This is the first of a four-part series.

On March 2, the three of us started a new job at walkerproject, a consulting firm in the healthcare sector located at the Zurich Airport. One month ago everything still seemed normal. We were looking forward to our introductory program in the office, exciting workshops with clients and fun team events.  The first dates were already booked.

And then everything turned out differently. At the end of February, not only the job entry was just around the corner, but also the Corona crisis. From our first working day on, the situation got increasingly worse and everything changed very quickly. The Federal Council ordered: Stay at home.

Our new employer was suddenly occupied with: Implementing the internal pandemic plan, supporting customers during the crisis, getting ready for home office instead of customer appointments and upgrading the internal digital infrastructure. A mixture of private and professional challenges awaited us. We are pleased to launch a blog series in which we report on the following topics from three perspectives:

Part 1: Entering the Unknown (by Nina Breitenstein)

Part 2: The Digital Upgrade (by Meriel Meiling)

Part 3: Crisis Management in Hospitals (by Carla Walker)

Part 4: The Path to a “New Normal” (by Nina Breitenstein, Meriel Meiling and Carla Walker)


Part 1: Entering the Unknown

A blog post by Nina Breitenstein, Junior Consultant at walkerproject.

Already one year prior to my job entry, I knew that I will be starting my journey as a junior consultant at walkerproject by March 2nd, 2020. For a long time I had been looking forward to the upcoming interesting project work and exciting team events at my new employer. And then finally on March 2nd, I stood in the elevator of Prime Center 1 at Zurich Airport and went up to the 7th floor. At that time I didn’t know that this first one would also be one of my last trips in this elevator for the next two months. Many thoughts went through my head: “What will my new team colleagues be like? What will I learn on my first day? Am I perhaps overdressed? And how will I greet my new colleagues, since the usual shaking hands was already no longer allowed due to the advancing Corona crisis?

When I arrived at the office I was greeted by curious and friendly faces. Carla and Meriel were already there. It was very pleasant to know that I was not the only newcomer. Nobody really knew how to greet each other until someone started with elbow checks. Although this is a very strange way to introduce yourself to new colleagues, the welcome was still very warm.

Well organized we started the day after our first welcome coffee. I knew in advance that in the first two weeks many different introductory blocks, called Onboardings at walkerproject, were awaiting me. So that us three new junior consultants could get to know all colleagues at once, each of these Onboardings was led by a different team member. The first day started with an office tour. This was followed by an introduction to the working standards at walkerproject, an internal role clarification and a summary of the most important cornerstones of the Swiss healthcare system. Already during those first few days, the first limitations of Covid-19 began to emerge, as not all Onboardings took place as planned. Some were conducted as “walking meetings”, which meant that these introductions took place during a walk around the airport grounds. Nevertheless, the first days ended with a lot of motivation and confidence. We still had no idea what was expecting us on Friday of our first week.

On this Friday, March 6th, our first Team-Huddle took place. The term Huddle comes from American Football and stands for a short meeting before and during the game to discuss the following moves and strategies. After everything started as planned and we had met the last of our new colleagues, upsetting news were communicated: From now on, level 2 of the internal pandemic plan was in effect, which meant that the entire team was immediately set into home office mode. From this point on, all meetings were to be held virtually or as “walking meetings”, upcoming workshops were cancelled for the time being and our last planned onboarding sessions were to be held via video conference. Everyone standing in this room was a little lost and all of us didn’t really know where to put our thoughts. Nobody could tell me how long this situation would last, what it would mean for my further job entry and how I would suddenly teach myself everything from home without any experience. Just when I had started to slowly settle in at walkerproject and prepare for my first projects, I was completely slowed down. But luckily walkerproject implemented some support systems that helped Carla, Meriel and me to get acquainted with our new jobs despite of the increasing corona crisis.

Read the second part of this blog series “The Digital Upgrade” here.

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