How I Landed My Dream PR Job, via Zoom, in Another Country and Different Time Zone…
Just like every other international graduate in the UK, the Covid-19 pandemic made me return to my home country – the Czech Republic – in October 2020. I started to look for my first full time job in PR around this time as well, slightly interrupted by the Christmas period. Fast forward to January 2021, I saw a PR Account Executive job advertised on LinkedIn saying: “have a listen to our podcast to get to know the team.”
And so I did. I listened to every episode and found this quirky professional team that I just had to be a part of. I did further research and could almost feel the company culture from their website. The job advertisement said: “Tell us why you’re the person for this job. Send us your pitch, no longer than two paragraphs”. I thought it was quite an unusual request, but a fun challenge. Responding in a similarly creative tone, I decided to write a press release on what I could bring to the company. I received a Zoom invite for an interview on the same day, while still stuck in the Czech Republic.
I quickly realised I wasn’t about to go through the usual interview process, ‘usual’ is not the word that works in the current pandemic climate. Instead of choosing what to wear and looking at the best routes to get to the office, I spent my morning testing my laptop in various places around the house, finding the quietest spot, with a ‘professional’ background and good lighting, piling my books up to perch my laptop on – all the things that are considered the “new normal” now.
The initial interview was quite relaxed, both sides wanting to get to know each other, asking a lot of questions. I had my first glimpse of what the company culture is like and I was not disappointed. The second round required me to pitch a story on how developments in technology will positively affect a particular industry to the Roosters’ interviewing me, as if they were journalists.
Time to be creative again, I thought. This time around I expected the interview to be stressful and exhausting, but the opposite turned out to be true, and after what seemed to be a couple of friendly, surprisingly stress-free conversations I got the email every graduate wants to get: “We are thrilled to offer you the position…”
So good news! I got the job. Bad news: I had to start working remotely during a global pandemic with – at the time – no end in sight (the roadmap out of lockdown was yet to be announced). When will I be able to return to London? When will I meet my colleagues? When will I see the office? These were the questions running through my mind when my first day came.
I won’t lie, it was quite overwhelming. It took me at least a week to grasp what was happening around me. A large part of it was because I couldn’t just show up in the workplace and turn around to ask my colleague: “Hey, would you please help me with setting up the right font for my email?” Additionally, because I was still in the Czech Republic, I couldn’t get to my work computer which meant an enormous amount of IT issues from setting up my email to upgrading my own computer and losing all my data. I had moments when I wondered if technology is at the same time the best and the worst thing that ever happened to us.
The second week however, I didn’t feel lost anymore – mainly because of the support I was getting from the team. I think the absence of the office has even enhanced the amount of training and personal mentorship I am provided, as my teammates empathise with the struggles of starting a new job from home. In a matter of weeks, I was confidently supporting the team across four Business and Corporate Accounts, working on PR plans, conducting research, pitching to the media and writing press content, something I never dreamed of doing so quickly. I have to say, I am enjoying it immensely.
The biggest issue for me proved to be the one-hour time difference between Czechia and the UK. Yes, I know, it is just one hour but oh, I felt that hour profoundly when I looked outside of the window and the sun was long gone. Starting to work at 10am and finishing at 6.30pm meant I didn’t have time to do much in the morning and not enough time left to do anything in the evening. That’s one of the reasons I decided to come back to the UK, just under four weeks after starting at Rooster. Going through three rounds of Covid testing and a quarantine, work was one of the only distractions from the slowness of time.
So here I am. After my initial scepticism towards working from home, I have come to appreciate its perks. While I have not gotten to meet my colleagues in person yet, I do get to have drinks with them over Zoom, learning that the company culture can survive behind a screen. I have yet to see the office but in the meantime I can comfortably ditch the commute. Some things do take me a bit longer to do compared to how long it would take me in the office. However, I know the team is patient, maybe even more so because of the pandemic. My IT problems do not drive anyone mad because they experienced the same thing.
I dare to say, we’re all learning that working from home requires a good sense of humour. Especially when it comes to the “new normal”.