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Starting a New Job Remotely at Palo Alto Networks Israel - What Does it Look Like?

Israel Remote

Starting a new job is always challenging, and even more so during the past year or so when, due to Covid-19, everything was done remotely and according to Flexwork, the hybrid model for work.

How did the newcomers (who will soon celebrate 1 year with us already!) to Palo Alto Networks Israel experience this period?

In the upcoming 2 weeks, we will present some of our colleagues here and hear their story (and also their advice!).

The first article in the series is devoted to three employees; for two of them, it was the first job after graduating while the third, was still a student (and meanwhile moved to a full time, after her graduation).

So let's get acquainted!

Aviya Baumgarten - Staff Engineer SW in the Cortex XSOAR group

Jasmine Beilin - Staff Engineer SW in the Cortex XSOAR group

Darya Koval - Staff Engineer SW ( started as SW Engineering Student) in the Cortex XSOAR Group


When did you join the company and what were your concerns before then?

Jasmine: I joined the company in September 2020. My first day at the company was filled with concerns.

It worried me that I would find myself isolated in a house for an unspecified period of time at the most crucial time of a new job. My opinion is that in order to easily transition into a new position, it is important to sit down with your teammates and understand how they cope with problems or handle the various systems in general, and for them to be able to identify the issues you're struggling with. 

Aviya: I joined right after  Rosh Hashanah of 2020. I was mostly concerned with the nature of working remotely. I was wondering how the onboarding process would be carried out in this format. I was apprehensive about the training process: would people be available to assist me when I needed them and would I feel comfortable to “burden" them with questions? Socially, I feared that I might not be able to connect with the rest of the team due to the physical distance which, in the long run, could affect both my social and my professional interaction with them.

Darya: I joined in October 2020. I had numerous concerns: How would I even start my first day at work without physically going into the office? Without seeing my team, without an in-person get-to-know-you talk with my team leader, and without chatting with my colleagues over coffee breaks? Who will I turn to if I struggle with my task? Will anyone be available to answer my questions? I'm not very comfortable turning to people I don't know with lots of questions.

How did the onboarding process go?

Darya: The onboarding process was better than I expected. There were plenty of orientation lectures for new employees, in which they explained about the company and the procedures, how everything works, who to turn to for each problem.

Getting acquainted with the team: In the morning I had an introductory conversation,  via Zoom naturally, with my team leader and my buddy. There was then a Zoom conversation with the entire team in which everyone introduced themselves. It was very nice that everyone turned on their cameras so that I could see them and familiarize myself with the people I was going to work with. Everyone was very nice to me and I felt comfortable approaching each and every one of them with questions.

Aviya: Thankfully, Onboarding in the company dispelled all my fears. The needed equipment arrived at my doorstep with a courier. On the first day, as soon as the IT team guided me through the process, my awesome buddy installed the entire workspace on my computer, explained about the training process and listened to my fears and concerns. In addition, my team leaders frequently checked if I felt comfortable approaching them. I attended lectures with different employees in the group so that I could get acquainted with more people during this period. Long story short, I could not have asked for a more supportive and caring environment!

Jasmine: My experience with the onboarding process was quite smooth. The team members were available from the get-go to answer any questions that might come up and were readily helpful at any given moment, making sure to virtually familiarize me with other teams, so that I could always find someone to turn to.

What were some of the difficulties you encountered and what helped you overcome them?

Aviya: Vocational difficulties in a particular task or with questions regarding the company's systems. I was mostly helped by my buddy who was very patient with me. Sometimes other employees from the company helped me when it related to their field of expertise. There were coffee break sessions during which I was able to get acquainted with the team outside and beyond the professional issues, and that gave me a sense of belonging and made me feel more at ease with the rest of the team.

Jasmine: The workspace presented the biggest challenge. For Instance, the Internet suddenly froze during lectures, and meetings were abruptly interrupted. Of course, unexpected distractions and renovation sounds from the neighbors weren’t so helpful.

Luckily, I was privileged to join an amazing team who supported me at every step of the way, understood the difficulties and knew how to explain any issue that posed an obstacle.

In addition, I started coming to the office several days a week, which allowed for faster professional progress as well as social rapprochement with other team members who arrived at the office as part of the leniency on corona restrictions.

Darya: Naturally, in terms of the professional aspect, there were difficulties similar to those faced by any new employee. Suppose, for example, you face a problem that you can't quite figure out yourself, but a veteran team member would surely solve it within a few minutes. Luckily my entire team was always available for me either on Slack or Zoom. Mainly my buddy,  who accompanied me via Zoom for the majority of the day, was always available to answer any of my questions. He also tried to help me integrate socially, through Zoom conversations with my teammates during breaks, so that we could get to know one each other better outside of work.

What kind of advice would you give to a new employee nowadays?

Jasmine: Everything is a little slower when working from home, and it's totally okay to admit it and consult with the team veterans to understand how they cope.

Darya: It is always important to remember the benefits of working from home, such as: no traffic jams on the way to work, the possibility of waking up 10 minutes before you start working, and working in your pajamas. That's why being a new employee during Covid is not that bad!

Aviya: Feel comfortable asking questions, and don't be afraid to be seen as someone who doesn't understand! Furthermore, if there are several new employees, I would recommend creating a communication channel through which you can ask each other questions and share the knowledge you have acquired over time. It helped us a lot.

What kind of advice would you give us, as a company, to improve our onboarding process?

Jasmine: It's worth putting some time in organizing the documents related to the administrative training period. I found myself "accidentally" finding out from my teammates about systems that were unfamiliar to me, and I would have preferred to get acquainted with them in a more orderly fashion.

Aviya: I would recommend creating more opportunities for social encounters (online nowadays) between new employees and seniors in the group (not necessarily from the same team). I believe this would accelerate the integration process.

Darya: Some of the staff meetings can be held in the office, to the extent that Covid restrictions enable, so we could get to know the team members in-person.  I also recommend arriving at the office from time to time.

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