Exactly one year ago, on the 19th February 2018, I rang a buzzer in the Old Brewery in Bradford-on-Avon marked “Varn”. That day marked the start of my new job (and hopefully my new career) in digital marketing.
One year later and so far I have survived… Oh and I can officially hold down a career longer than I can commit to a relationship (not really sure whether to laugh or cry about that). I am now a fully integrated member of staff and have made it through all of my monthly meetings without getting told off or crying, so that’s a real bonus.
What have I learnt in my 1 year at Varn?
1. Work and play can go hand in hand
When interviewing for the job at Varn, I was asked whether I was okay with the occasional Nerf gun fight, odd question isn’t it? But once you start the job, you totally get it…
There are some big personalities at Varn and a lot of us are big kids with lots of energy. We have a pinball machine, pool table, table tennis set, Extreme Uno, and Nerf guns in our office. This may sound like we’re trying to be one of those hip agencies who appeals to the younger generation, but honestly, we just like to have a laugh.
It may sound distracting to have these readily available, but it often makes us more productive instead. There are times when we’ll have a quick Nerf gun shoot out across the office for 10 minutes, and then for the rest of the afternoon we are all pretty much silent and working hard.
When we have team lunches it’s also a great way to have a bit of downtime and spend time together away from our desks and away from client chat.
I couldn’t imagine being in an office now where everyone is dressed in suits and the only joy they get out of work is winning a huge deal or the obligatory Friday afternoon trip to the pub.
2. Money isn’t everything
I hate to be that person that says “money isn’t everything”, but in the case of work I really think that to be true. I’m not paid badly by any means and the money here is competitive, fair and reviewed but being realistic, Varn is a small agency and we aren’t going to be bringing in as much revenue as a large corporation in London.
When I was at school and at uni, I always thought that I’d want to be working somewhere where I’m paid a high wage and am in a traditional business environment. Now, after my year here and after quitting my previous job, I’ve really realised the value of enjoying your working environment and of having a good boss.
My colleagues are varied in personalities, but we all blend pretty well. The office is in a beautiful location close to my family and friends, I’m in a place where I am encouraged to develop, to have fun and to push the boundaries and I have been given the chance to attend some great training events. I have not yet had a day where I do not want to go to work. Even on days when I really want some extra time in bed, I do not hate the thought of coming to do my job.
3. Work stays at the office
I’ll admit, I can get distracted and there are days when I will not perform at 100%. But one thing I have learnt is not to take work home, unless absolutely necessary.
When I’ve had a bad week previously I spent my weekend trying to get through work I hadn’t quite finished, and whilst it’s good to be committed and to make sure work is done, I started work on Monday feeling like I hadn’t had a break at all. I felt more tired and moodier because I hadn’t given my eyes a rest from the laptop and hadn’t really taken some “me” time over the weekend.
Now, if I have work that needs completing I start early or leave late and all of the work stays at the office. Unless I have a few spare hours on a Saturday morning whilst I’m sat in bed with my coffee and want to finish a blog I started.
4. I will not perform at 100% every day and that’s okay
I like to think that I work hard, and I see that everyone in my office works hard. But there are days when my brain just goes “nope, not today”.
We all have those dreaded moments, where we feel like we haven’t done enough and are left feeling a bit deflated with the day. For someone new like myself, that can make you go in to immediate panic mode and there have been times when I’ve gone in to my monthly meeting thinking “I did all of my work and I’ve done everything I needed, but I was a bit out of it at points this month”.
Then, when I receive praise from Aimee about how much I’ve helped her, or from Thomas about how well they think I’ve progressed and I see others looking a bit tired or dishevelled, I have to remind myself that we will not all be firing in all cylinders every day.
We could be on fire one day and get through all of our work with time to spare but on another day we could have had a sleepless night or some bad news and we’ll slump. But as long as we try our best for the team and for our clients, it is not necessary for us to be super men and women every day.
The past year has flown by and it has been filled with a few of “oh fuck” and “damnit” moments when things haven’t gone to plan, but there have been plenty of “hell yeah!” moments to counteract those. I have turned colleagues into friends, learnt how to work through Nerf gun bullets flying over my head, and have been filled with this urge to fight and to thrive.
I was petrified when I first stepped into the office, but I think I have found my feet now and I can’t wait to see how I progress over the next year within my role (if they’ll let me stay that is haha).