We asked two of last year’s graduate trainees to give us a warts and all review of their first year. If you’re thinking of joining the team, you might want to read it…
It’s been a long year, right? Or maybe it’s been a short year?
Temporally speaking, only leap years stand out as lasting longer than any other. Existentially, however, everyone marks time in their own unique manner. We’re not cyborgs yet, we don’t necessarily adhere to any pre-programmed conditioning. This is rather evident with the four of us, Yanni, Michael, Richard and Ryan.
For anyone who may not know, hi, we’re the Digital Academy Ninjas. Or, we were.
The Digital Academy is Cognifide’s UK based graduate program where the participants, known as Digital Ninjas, spend a year getting direct exposure to clients and project work. After successful graduation from the Academy, the Ninja transforms into an Associate Digital Experience Analyst. Here’s our story.
In the beginning
From Day One, we were accepted and welcomed into the Cognifide family with open arms. We weren’t the coffee-and-bagel collectors and we weren’t obstacles in the office. We had objectives, we had real goals, but more importantly than that, we were team members, colleagues and friends.
We all took different routes to get here. Sure, we all went to university, we were all interested in digital, but that’s where most of the similarities stop. We grew up in urban Greece, north of the wall in Newcastle, Gloucestershire (also home of Tony Adams) and small-town Ireland. We all came from different cultures with different experiences, interests and motivations.
What attracted us here? At face value, Cognifide was just another name on the job application list. It wasn’t until speaking with people face-to-face, seeing the premises and taking part in the assessment day that things began to click. There was an overwhelming sense of people being allowed to be their unique, creative selves. No one was hidden behind a suit or three cubicle walls. Reflective of the open nature of the office plan, people weren’t obscured silhouettes, they were simply people.
This changed everything. It was no longer a place to work, but a place where, maybe, work could be something to be enjoyed in a place where your originality could shine. When someone enjoys the work they do, the place where they work and the people that they work with, it can hardly be called work anymore.
Of course, these were just first impressions but it didn’t take long for first impressions to become lasting impressions. Cognifide’s culture is incredibly open and welcoming. Over the course of days, weeks and months, we learned about and embraced the identity of the company which, appropriately, embraces the identity of the individuals. It’s difficult to capture the essence of Cognifide with a finite number of words, because the essence of Cognifide, to us at least, is defined by the essence of the numerous individuals that work here.
How did we fit in?
Well, there wasn’t really anything to fit into. Beyond the vague idea of work hard, play hard, individuality was clearly the driving force within the company. No anonymous shirt and tie to be found here, it was apparent from the beginning that everyone was allowed and encouraged to be that most liberating of things; themselves. It was remarkably - and unsurprisingly - easy to carve a space for ourselves.
In the year that followed, this didn’t change. We, playing the role of ourselves, were (and seemingly, always had been) part of the team. We were able to build global relationships, not only with team members in Poznan, the U.S. and South Africa, but also with clients. In professional and social environments, we were one with the team and company. Even though we may have expected an invisible barrier this wasn’t the case.
It was a seamless integration. After a few weeks, we knew most people. Over the coming months, practice rotations would ensure we knew everyone. All questions, no matter how nonsensical they may have sounded, were answered with patience and understanding. We knew nothing, and without everyone’s help, we might still know nothing. It wasn’t until we chatted with this years Digital Academy intake that we collectively realised how far we’d come, and how much everyone had helped us get there. We wanted to contribute, we wanted to feel valued but more importantly, we wanted to feel like we provided value. We were able to behave naturally and embrace our peculiarities, because everyone else had embraced theirs.
That was last year, but what of the future?
We’re happy here. We’re all actively working on client projects of various kinds and we’ve all carved out niches for ourselves within the DXA team, and within the company itself. Additionally, while the work being done is clearly the most important and pressing business for us, it’s never the only thing. Once a month, Feel Good Fridays provide a welcome relief to the sometimes frenetic nature of projects by encouraging and embracing equally frenetic socialising and fun. There’s also One Cognifide Day in which we focus on the unique interests and hobbies of the people of Cognifide from around the globe. In short, the same cultural identity that made us feel welcome in the first place is what motivates us to stick around and witness the future of the company too.
How to conclude?
Well, as one generation of Ninjas move on, a new generation must naturally step into the fold. The class of 2017 have just joined the Digital Academy and are experiencing the same openness and acceptance that we did when we arrived. In their hands, the future of the Digital Academy is looking bright; after all, one cheeky person (who shall remain unnamed) has whispered in our collective ear that these new Ninjas are already better than we ever were!
If you like what you've read and think you'd like to join the team, take a look at our current job opportunities.