I started to work for Lab.Coop in September, roughly 5 months ago; ample time to get an overview of the kind of adventure one may have embarked on. And boy, has it been an adventure.
I started off by receiving a laptop straight away. I believe I perform better on Mac - a preference which was never questioned. This was quite the contrast to previous experiences wherein every request required rigorous reasoning and provided proofs.
For my first assignment, I proposed to continue working on an unfinished project at my previous job. Everyone at Lab.Coop agreed; the most important thing for everyone was to simply have someone at the company with design knowledge. Future projects were secondary. This made the transition easily, immersing myself at Lab.Coop two days a week while finishing up business at my old company during the other three.
Only a mere two weeks into my employment, a conference, I had been wanting to go to was approaching: the yearly Service Design Conference New York. Previously, I have failed many times to get the industry knowledge I wanted; I had met rejection due to high expenses by a company incomparable in size with Lab.Coop. I wanted to go badly and knew that there was a 2000 EUR yearly budget for individuals to spend on educational opportunities at Lab.Coop, yet I hesitated: I felt unsure bringing this up having spent so little time at the job. On my third week, I gathered up the courage to ask: “Hey guys, how would you feel about sending me to this 1000 USD conference to NYC next week?”
Yeah, it sounded just as awkward as it reads.
The reaction was strong but completely the opposite of what I had expected: “Why are you only saying this now?!” They were only concerned the tickets would cost more than it would have two weeks ago! Putting such financial risk into an “early bird” is not such a straightforward thing to say yes to, yet here I was, at the beginning of my probation period. Rather than limiting me, a creative guideline was created. A policy was modified make it clear that if one were to leave the company during the probation period, that person had to pay back the money spent on educational opportunities like this conference… and just as quick as that, I was off to NYC a week later.
This experience lifted me up; professionally, it gave me tons of inspiration and energy (my full recap of the event can be read here). Most of all though, I felt enormously empowered. Empowered by a environment the Lab.Coop could mean to me. I came home empowered and ready to roll.