- You’ll never be able to explain to anyone what it is you do.
Look forward to every wedding, birthday party, funeral where you just have to tell people “I’m in tech”. The worst thing is that, even if you can successfully explain yourself, no one will care.
- You’ll spend a lot of time coming up with answers before you know the questions.
The nicer way of saying this is that you’ll be working on solutions to things that you haven’t yet defined. Everything will feel like uncharted territory: as though you are the first person going through this for the first time in human history – which is never true.
- There is no structure.
If a company comprises three people, toiling over structure would be futile. But often, this is normalised when there are 20, 50 people – because it’s easier than doing something about it. A constant state of not wanting to grow up, but needing to.
- You will be in a state of uncomfortable upheaval all the time.
Your company will move offices at least every six to 12 months. You’ll always be painfully short of mugs, post-its, toilet roll. You will never know a lack of personal boundaries like fitting 12 people on a four-person desk.
- You’ll forget people’s names.
The pace of change will be such that social norms – like remembering colleagues’ names – will fly out of the window.
- People will start saying words like “stakeholder”.
Everyone will start to use big (corporate) words to compensate for a lack of substance. This is a product of the fact that what you’re doing is hard; let alone talking about it, no one really knows what everyone is doing.
- You will have to use a new tool every week.
New tools will be deployed to manage things that aren’t broken. Marketing choose something because it’s pretty; engineering functional. And finance put it all in a spreadsheet. Then, someone will go and buy a new tool that just enables all the other tools to talk to each other.
- You’ll become obsessed with pointless numbers.
The struggle to survive will become so acute that, to stop yourself jumping off something, you’ll cling to whatever looks like progress. “How many of our Twitter followers retweeted that gif?” rather than “how many customers do we have, and how much money are they paying us?”.
- You’ll frequently hire people but have no idea what you’re doing.
You will be hiring people to do a job that has been a profession and area of expertise of theirs for years, and your only experience is that you did something related a few weeks ago for an afternoon, and somehow that makes you the most qualified person to recruit them.
- There will always be a group who reminisce, despite the good old days being awful.
If you reach any kind of scale and solve any of the above, there will still be this nostalgic nucleus: “wasn’t it so great when we got 12 people around the four-person desk?” Nope, actually it wasn’t. It’s just great that you don’t have to do that any more.
But why would you ever want to work anywhere else?
Who cares if you can’t describe what you do? There are a group of people who can empathise with your passion, because they too live to create new things. They too are most at home coming up with answers before questions, delight in building a structure from scratch and, like soldiers, astronauts, explorers, just deal with being uncomfortable.
Forgetting names and using silly words pale into insignificance in the face of progress. You might have to be intimate with two colleagues as you share a desk using a dizzying array of tools, but at least it’s not enterprise software someone bought 15 years ago. And as you sit together, you’ll learn to focus on the important metrics, not just the vanity ones. Many of you won’t have been hired because of your experience, but because of your attitude – because your personality belongs there. And you’ll contribute more than those that hired you could ever have imagined.
There are very few places where you will work with incredible people who equally have no idea what they’re doing, but share this common trait that all they want to do is figure it out. And, just occasionally, you might be fortunate enough not only to be in one of the companies that survives, but in one that changes the world.
Go try doing that at Accenture.