Onboarding at Atomic: A New Atom’s Perspective

If you’re a frequent reader of Spin, you may have read Jesse’s post about our onboarding guidelines here at Atomic Object. At the end of the post, the importance of gathering feedback from new Atoms is discussed. I’m here to provide that feedback.

A photo of two Atomic Object employees talking in the Ann Arbor office

So far, I have been extremely pleased with my onboarding experience at Atomic. I’ve heard horror stories from others regarding the start of a new job. I’ve had my own, too—like having to assemble my own cubicle on my first day, or being locked out in the middle of winter because I was never given a functioning key. We don’t believe in cubicles at Atomic, and from the beginning, I was far from locked out. In fact, I knew what my first day would look like before it even started.

Prior to the First Day

Before my start date, I was emailed a detailed itinerary of what that first day would look like. I was told when to arrive, where to park, and where to go upon entering the building. This information greatly relieved any sort of first-day-of-school anxiety I had. Should I bring a lunch? Will I be working on a client project right away? Will it be a full day? These questions were all answered, and more.

The First Day

Upon arriving on my first day, I was welcomed and introduced to my team. There were flowers on my desk, a welcome card, a vegan snack (they even took note of my dietary restrictions!), and a packet of handy onboarding information. Remember the emailed itinerary? It was printed and placed on top of said onboarding packet. If there’s one thing you take from this post, I hope it’s how organized we are here at Atomic.

After the First Day

To some, the length of onboarding may only be one day, or maybe one week. At Atomic, we look at onboarding as a much longer process. Aside from the typical new job paperwork and training, our onboarding also involves acclimating new Atoms to our culture and preparing professional development opportunities. So, what has this looked like for me?

  • Culture Pair: Being assigned a culture pair meant I had someone to ask all the questions I could come up with during our weekly sync-ups. This scheduled time was super helpful, and it removed any reluctance or fear to ask an abundance of questions.
  • Pair Lunches: My culture pair scheduled a few pair lunches for me. Having these lunches pre-planned was a great way to get to know my coworkers, without feeling awkward about asking people I didn’t know out to lunch. Now that I have experienced how great pair lunches are, I have no hesitation to ask any of my coworkers out for lunch, even the ones I have barely talked to so far.
  • Atomic Classes: As a new Atom, I had the opportunity to attend a few small internal classes or workshops that shed more light on various aspects of Atomic’s culture, such as how our economics work, and what the entire process of a project looks like—from start to finish.
  • Scheduled Readings: So far, I have burned through two books as a part of my assigned reading. These books have helped me gain further insight on software development and goal-oriented design.
  • Conferences and Workshops: Next month, I will be attending Cooper’s UX Bootcamp with a fellow Atomic designer. This bootcamp was highly recommended by several other Atoms, and I am remarkably excited to attend.

My experience joining Atomic Object has been a positive one. The great amount of time and thought that has gone into planning the onboarding journey has not only helped make this transition smooth for the obvious reasons mentioned above, but it has also made me feel like an Atom since day one.