(This is a blog I wrote at the end of my first week at Coca-Cola. It was posted on the internal IT blog site. Although it includes some company-specific jargon, I think the general theme could apply to any job. Please enjoy!)
No, I’m not talking about your mouse. Or your trackpad. Or even the keys on your keyboard. I’m talking about a different kind of click. That magical mental click. The moment when everything scattered in your thoughts begins to fall into a sort of pattern. When what used to be in disarray suddenly settles into its own concentrated compartment. It may not be perfectly organized yet—you’re missing a few tabs, a few items are falsely labeled, a few pages have a title, but the rest is blank. It’s not a foolproof system. But it’s not nearly as chaotic as it was before.
For some of us, a click happens with a difficult school subject or concept. For example, you’re studying the night before a test for your database management class and you finally understand the database normalization process and getting your data from first to second to third normal form—an example taken from my junior fall. Or maybe it’s in sports. You can’t figure out how to complete a specific skill or move, until, after hours of practice, you nail it. Maybe it’s in a different type of training—a training class for work. You’re on the second “movie time” session for a course on Agile software development when you begin to understand the distinction between the scrum master and the product owner (shout-out to the Dojo’s Agile Accelerator class). I think everyone has a sort of mental filing system or mental bookkeeping method. It’s what helps us in the work-life or school-life balance. When you’re at work, you open up that file. It’s got a section for co-workers, acronyms, emails, and org charts. At home, it’s fun, food, friends, and family. But we can’t file any of these groups away until we’ve appropriately classified them and everything’s clicked. That’s what happened to me around lunchtime last Thursday afternoon. It clicked.
I’m a new IT intern. I started last Monday, June 3rd with the eCommerce team. As soon as I was picked up in Yetu and taken over to my designated floor, my search for clicks began. My manager and new team members graciously let me tag along to the majority of their meetings to help me in learning the ropes. I shook enough hands well enough that I’m confident my career development professor—a required class for Georgia Tech business students—would’ve been proud. However, once the introductions were finished and Microsoft Word was poised in front of me ready to go, I mostly fell silent and tried to absorb. As meetings went on and more problems and solutions were discussed, I found myself frequently getting lost despite how hard I tried to sharpen my focus. Who’s CONA? They surely don’t mean CBS as in the broadcasting company, do they? Is it CCNA or CC&A? When I attempted to find answers to these questions, and before I resorted to disrupting anything by asking those around me, I drew on the knowledge I’d gained from my last internship, what I’d been taught in my ITM classes, the Internet, and, most heavily, context clues. When any of these methods failed me, I would comb through our intranet or wikis to see what I could learn. Once I realized I was amassing more knowledge than I could realistically keep proper track of, I created an “Acronym Book.” As I heard at the Global IS + IT Town Hall this morning, and as I learned in my first few days, the company, and the corporate world as a whole, loves its acronyms. I separated my acronym book into four core sections: Coke-Specific, Bottlers, eCommerce-Specific, and Software-Specific. This breakdown seemed the most logical to me given a few reasons. One, I was at a brand-new company which came with its own terminology, business partners, and culture. If I wished to cohere to the culture, I needed to be able to speak the language, hence, the Coke and bottlers section. Second, I needed to build a fundamental understanding of what I would be working on for the summer. Each company employs different types of software and methodologies to assist them in accomplishing their business goals. Maybe they prefer Tableau to Power BI or Agile to the waterfall model, or, even simpler, Microsoft to Apple. If I wanted to help the company in reaching those goals, I needed to have a grasp of which tools to use, hence the eCommerce and software section.
It took four days of compiling this book, reading wikis, and tagging along to meetings before I had my moment. I was pulled into an hour-long demo right around lunchtime. I watched as a product was explained from front-end to back-end and followed along as clarifying questions were asked. It wasn’t until the end of the meeting, when laptops were being closed and cords were being wrapped up, that I realized I had understood 90-95% of what was discussed. But not just that, I also realized I’d pieced together what business function was responsible for which product and belonged to which team, etc. It was a revelation. I knew from then on I was going to be able approach every task with just a bit more confidence. Do I still get lost in meetings? Yes, but not nearly as frequently. Do I still have tons of questions? Of course. But, for the first time at a higher level here, it clicked!
Other people could have had radically different journeys adapting to their new roles than the one I described. Most people’s corporate job transitions don’t traditionally have a nine-month gap in between like us undergraduate students. So, I could only be chronicling the story of one intern who took a family beach vacation right before work started (am I still shaking off the vacation mindset?). But nevertheless, I think mental clicks are always somewhat exciting. In the age of technological unemployment, we need more clicks. More epiphanies. More Eurekas. More ways to innovate. We’re utilizing technologies such as 3D printing, blockchain, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more. These technologies won’t be widely adopted until they’ve shifted from tech world buzzwords to standard business vocabulary. And to get there, more concepts have to click with more people. This summer, I’m hoping that’s eCommerce for me. And the world of eCommerce certainly likes clicks. 🙂