From a Puppy to a Sleighdog

How Ivana became a Sleighdog

Ivana Vargová

16 November 2017

To become a Sleighdog, you have to be a puppy first. At Sleighdogs, every newcomer — or every puppy, if you will — spends their first three months, the Puppy Period, soaking up new information, becoming familiar with the office workflow, finding their feet within the company, getting mentoring, and, most importantly, finding out how they fit into the pack. One of our puppies, Ivana, has recently become a full-blown Sleighdog, and in this article, she shares her puppyhood experience.

 

Hi, I’m Ivana. I come from Košice, the capital of East Slovakia, and I studied psychology at the university there. During my studies, I spent a year at Charles University in Prague through an Erasmus program. That’s when I fell in love with the city and decided to move there and find a job. When I applied for the position at Sleighdogs, I was finishing my Master’s degree, and right after I graduated, I started relocating to Prague. I started at Sleighdogs in July 2017. My official job title is HR & PM Assistant, and it is my first full-time job. I am mainly involved in HR, and my average days consist of all kinds of research and theoretical foundation writing, organizing pack activities, trying to get more into recruiting, employer branding and social media, applying my psychology knowledge to the company, some back office tasks, and, from time to time, delighting the pack with homemade cakes.

How I became a Sleighdog?

One day in April, I was browsing Facebook and a job ad popped up in a student group that was promising a dream job. The position seemed very attractive and not only because of the rather likeable job description, but also because the company seemed to be a great bunch of people, smiling, drinking loads of coffee, as well as supporting ideas and flexible working hours. That really caught my attention. It did look like a dream job, but was it really one?
I decided to apply and find out. Pretty quickly, I got into an awesome hiring process consisting of multiple stages, including a face-to-face interview with the HR lead, Tereza, and the co-founder, Karl. While leaving the interview, they asked me to send them feedback about our talk. I wanted to do it differently, so I got an idea to create an Instagram profile as a reflection. The aim was pretty straightforward — be honest, spark up attention, and try to do my best. I captured all my impressions, the biggest challenges, and everything else in pictures. Then I created the i_wanna_be_a_sleighdog account, added the photos with catchy hashtags, and hoped for the best, because at this stage, I really wanted to be a Sleighdog!

Instagram photoshoot backstage photo

I promised them some of my professional qualities and a smile

I definitely wanted to explore what was behind this dream job

The i_wanna_be_a_sleighdog Instagram profile

It seemed that they liked it — because I got the job! Even though I knew that it would be a little bit different from what I studied, I felt that I had to take this opportunity to not regret missing out on it in the future.

My first day…

Two months later, I moved to Prague, and then along came the long awaited first day at Sleighdogs. What can I say — that’s a stressful situation! What about having a pleasant conversation in a cosy café? Sounds better than being in the office, right? After the first intro and office tour we moved to a café and my mentor, Tereza, explained to me a lot about my work, the company culture, the benefits, and generally introduced me to the Sleighdogs workstyle as well. I realized that I have never been in a working environment as flexible as this. In Sleighdogs, it really doesn’t matter if I work from the office or from a sand beach on the Azores — scheduling my work is completely up to me. Of course, only as long as I am producing good results.

And what about the following days?

In the next couple of days, I got my first tasks. Among some very pleasant ones, such as looking after the office supplies, organizing brunches or placing orders for healthy snacks to keep our team happy and productive, I also got more difficult tasks where I needed to ask my mentor for advice a lot.
At the beginning of my puppy adventures, I had mixed feelings and impressions. Sometimes I really felt like I am not able to understand basic things since it was an entirely new environment for me and just too different from what I was used to. During my “puppy period”, I went through many different tasks, from employer branding to recruiting. This diversity allowed me to look into multiple different fields. Maybe I did not become a super specialist in one area, and I cannot define my position in one word, but on the other hand, I never got bored. I got to see what goes on in the background, and learned many other aspects of multiple areas. What I also noticed was that a lot of information that I had learned at university kept popping up at work as well, but in a more human and practical way. For example, almost everything that I had learned about company culture, project management, hiring, motivation, organization structures or leadership. Even though I have now been at Sleighdogs for four months, I still feel like a sponge soaking up tons of new information.

Every week, I was supposed to write weekly reports about how I felt during the week, what tasks I was focusing on, what was good or bad. It helped to conclude my progress from week to week, and it also helped people involved in my onboarding process to get an overview of how it is going. I also had discussions about my development in the company, which helped to point my focus in the right direction. For example, I could choose a field I would like to focus on more than others, and improve myself in the areas that I want to improve in.

Every day since the beginning, I appreciate all the amazing benefits I have thanks to Sleighdogs. For example, food in the office, brunches, the technical equipment, all the pack activities, language courses, yoga… Things you have to do after work in your free time are now a part of your work day. For example, your English teacher will come to you and teach you in the office. On top of other benefits, Sleighdogs also decided to start a new experiment in the summer — a four-day working week. For me, this meant I could spend my longer weekends traveling and discovering the charming city of Prague.

Yoga in the office

One of our bi-weekly brunches

Beers & Games Gathering

As part of our pack activities, we, for example, spent a nice weekend in the beautiful German countryside in Drahnsdorf at the end of September. We had a great time doing canoeing, having a BBQ, and partying as well. What can possibly empower our team spirit more than events like this one?

When we found out that there were no Desperados left…

Canoeing in the beautiful Spreewald in Germany

Sleighdogs pub quiz at Drahnsdorf: Can you names those cartoon dogs?

From the observations that I made during my first few months, I found out that Sleighdogs are doing pretty well and are very smart in many areas such as personal approach, transparent communication, the hiring process, caring for employees, and so on. Most importantly, I can see that they want to improve in every aspect. Every member of the pack has a chance to be a part of the process, and every idea matters. If you see room for improvement (or a potential for a cool new venture), bring it up, and we can all set out on what we call “an expedition” to make it happen.

What have I learned?

If my Sleighdogs adventures were to end right this very moment, the most beneficial thing I have learned is how smart a company culture you can create. Also how important it is to make friends with your colleagues, share the right values, do things differently, turn your workplace into a great place to be by creating a supportive environment for your team, showing trust and excitement for discovering new things. And always try to be better!

To sum it up, I admit there are days that are more challenging, just like everywhere else, but I am really glad that I made the decision to join The Pack. At Sleighdogs, I get all the support I need and I get to work in a creative environment where personal and professional development are highly valued. I can definitely say it is as close to the promised dream job as you can get!

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