My onboarding journey: sense of wonder or back to university?

Have you ever had (a dream — meme lovers will understand me) the feeling that you are living something so amazing that you NEED to share it with others? That’s exactly what I am feeling right now and that’s why you are at this moment reading this text.

This feeling could be just because we are humans, a social species, that needs to share, communicate, or maybe it’s just my ego looking for appreciation and confirmation from others, or even it’s just a trait of my personality and nobody else feels like this, but no matter the root cause, sharing this now will be good for me and for you, I promise, or better saying: I hope.

Just so you don’t think this is a complete ego trip of me talking about my personality that I made up, I recently did a strengths test and here is part of the results: “Communication” (hey! like I said above), “Woo”: this is such an interesting one that I have never heard about before that I will leave here the link for you to read more about, and the last one I would like to mention is “Includer”, I think you might agree with this one by the end of this text, let’s see.

So far it sounds a bit too catchy this text and you might be already like: “stranger I hear you, if it’s so incredible, just share it!”, ah, another human factor: curiosity! If you already googled me by this point (ok, now I am really overestimating my writing persuading skills) you might have noticed I work at Thoughtworks, and by the “onboarding” title you now have a clue.

Yes, you are partially on the right track, though it goes a bit beyond I would say. On the title you might have noticed the phrase “sense of wonder”, not really sure you know what this is, anyway here is a short description:

feeling of awakening or awe triggered by an expansion of one’s awareness of what is possible or by confrontation with the vastness of space and time, as brought on by reading science fiction.” [1]

Oh, yes, that’s about right, this describes quite well my feeling during the last months, and what happened then? I am pretty sure you guessed correct now: I joined Thoughtworks! YAY.

If you allow me to try to guess again your thoughts now, it might be something like “oh that’s a bit exaggerated”, I can totally relate to you, if I would have read this by someone else a few months before, I would also have thought the same if someone described to me joining a new company as a sense of wonder, as I always associated sense of wonder with something very abstract, the love of a parent to its child, faith, or something very hard to describe.

However, I hope, first that you are still reading this, expecting that I can explain why I am feeling like this and how this can be good for you as I said at the beginning (and didn’t just say “ok, she is crazy, bye”), and second that I can actually do so, because explaining feelings is something specially hard in ones second language, like in Nelson Mandela’s quote, but I will give my best.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

So let’s start from the beginning, how did I get to know Thoughtworks? It was years ago, when I was still at university, while researching and studying for my lectures, I was always stumbling into Thoughtworks’s content, like books written by Thoughtworkers, when reading about Agile, or by using tools that have been developed by the company, but so far maybe it sounds to you like “hm, ok, many companies also have the same, no?” for me at the time also sounded not so impressive — note: years later I realised how impressive it is — but let’s continue.

Few years passed, I worked for different companies, many internships, trying to figure out what I am good at, what do I like doing, what would I like to do in the future, I graduated and even moved to Germany, quite a change, right? I have not mentioned yet, but I come from Brazil, maybe not relevant? yes, maybe, but that can also be one of the reasons I am so communicate and why you are right now reading this, nevertheless, going back to our main topic, or not, the pandemic started, wait, WHAT? What has the pandemic to do with Thoughtworks?

The pandemic: oh, yes, this topic we are immensely tired of already, so I will be brief here. The pandemic started and by spending so much time at home, I started having some more time to think about myself again, reflect on my career goals, on my values, what is really important to me, started doing therapy, yoga, baking and all the trendy pandemic-kind-of-things we all know.

Sounds nice, but please don’t get me wrong, these were just gateways to not get crazy! Being locked up and worried about people’s health, the world, mainly Brazil, which is still struggling very hard with the pandemic, was/is not easy at all, we are all still learning how to deal with all of this uncertainty. I was not brief, sorry, it’s still a hard to topic for all of us, so don’t forget to be emphatic now, more than ever!

Back to track, the relation between pandemic and Thoughtworks for me was exactly this reflection moment or how I like to call to make it sound fancy “self-knowledge journey”, and the day one was when I was chatting with one my previous managers that is working for Thoughtworks currently and he told me “Alice Thoughtworks is the perfect fit for you!” that rang a bell for me.

Few days later he shared with me the position and the surprise was one of the job’s criteria: upper-intermediate (B2) German proficiency, even though I was at that time doing the B2 German course, I thought “oh, I am not ready yet”, was I scared/afraid? trying to self-sabotage? have I ever heard about impostors syndrome? maybe, maybe, hell yes! But what really made me say “you know what? let’s give it a try!” was when I remembered the information in the image below:

Is this 100% accurate? Was it done following all the correct scientific methods? not sure, but it doesn’t matter here, because it was actually happening with me, and I have seen before many of my man colleagues applying to jobs they were not fully meeting the criteria, m-u-l-t-i-p-l-e times. So I was like no, not this time!

Few more days passed and the email from the recruiter was in my inbox, oh gosh this is really happening, the motivation spark that was for a while almost gone dead, started lightening again, from the interviews I already noticed that something was different.


[1] Prucher, Jeff (ed.). Brave New Words. The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2007)

[2] Why Are Women Still Behind in the Design World? Olivia Brown, Jan 28, 2020