15 July 2020

Learnings from a career with its beginnings in lockdown

There are times in life when things just don’t go according to plan. Earlier this year, when I heard that I had achieved the first step in my career by securing a role at leon, my mind raced with excitement and my thoughts immediately turned to arriving at the offices in Munich for my first day – not this time as an interviewee, but as a full employee, full of new-starter nerves and ready to make a difference.

My application to work at leon was driven by a belief that nanotechnology will revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry. Both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in nanoscience, and I undertook work experience in Canada in the field of nanoparticle drug delivery. My experience on the technical side, as well as my broad scientific education, has equipped me with knowledge of how to influence and optimize the properties of the nanoparticles produced with leon’s proprietary microjet reactor (MJR®) technology.

But for me, as for millions of people around the world, coronavirus changed everything. There would be no ‘proper’ Day One. No opportunity to soak up my surroundings. No handshakes, introductory gatherings or welcome drinks.

In their place, I had the entirely virtual (although slightly surreal!) experience of being onboarded in my first job from the comfort of my home. leon moved quickly to remote working in the early days of the pandemic, keen to protect the health of employees and partners across its networks, and through a combination of my webcam, email and mobile, I have been able to ‘meet’ new colleagues, undertake training and begin getting up-to-speed on current projects.

It may not have been perfect but, on reflection, it has been far from imperfect. Any potential barriers have been considered, identified and overcome. Furthermore, the experience has given me real insights into leon that I may not have had in the course of ‘normal’ business. Because I have been half a step removed here in my own virtual bubble, I have quickly gained an appreciation for the culture and some of the values that drive the business. Its agility and positivity. Its understanding of staff welfare through enforcing some ‘disconnection’ in this difficult time.

So, while recent experiences have underlined that all plans can be subject to change, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease, I am set to join my leon colleagues for my first ‘proper’ day in the office as soon as it practical. Thanks to my unorthodox virtual onboarding, I will be approaching it in a different way – less likely to experience the new-starter nerves, but readier than before to support the company in making a difference through nanotechnology.

If anyone reading this has had their first day affected by lockdown, it would be interesting to hear how it has changed things for you. Let me know by leaving a comment.

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