My First and Last Day in the Office: Navigating the Remote Job Market

by | Jun 2, 2021 | Remote Work, Workplace Climate

COVID-19 has impacted countless facets of our lives. For me, the start of the pandemic coincided with my first job hunt out of college. At the time, if you asked me, I wasn’t even considering the remote job market – that was for computer programmers and startups with unrealistic mission statements.

However, when I landed the job at SoundRocket, a social science research company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I was told (like many in March 2020) to prepare to work from home ‘for a bit’. 

While my interview was held at the main office, it turned out to be the final official day the whole company used that office. Onboarding was completely remote. I met the staff screen-to-screen, coordinated pick up for my IT needs, and did all job training virtually, that is, on Zoom call after Zoom call.  

Now, one year later, I have learned a lot about remote work and the remote job market. Here are some of my biggest surprises (and tips) for those considering or starting a new remote job. 

  1. If it’s your first job out of school, think about your experience with online classes, as it can guide how you approach remote work. 

I only had a few months of online class experience, just before graduation. However, I quickly learned that the skills I used in those classes, self-motivation, self-direction and time management, are crucial to successfully contributing as a remote employee. For those who have experience with remote classwork, use that experience. If you’re someone who needs more structure, maybe remote work is not the best choice for you, and it’s important to be honest with yourself. If you’re unsure, don’t forget that new skills can be developed. Even though you just graduated, it wouldn’t hurt to find an online course to take to see what the experience is like and give you a reference point to raise during interviews.

  1. Be open to new experiences.

Onboarding and remote work was totally different than what I imagined my working life would be. I had to keep an open mind, and try new techniques until I found what task management and communication styles worked for me. If you stumble, try something new or ask a coworker – mine always have all sorts of shortcuts and helpful tips to share. It turns out everyone was learning at the same time, so nobody judged me.

  1. Ask your prospective employer how they socially on-board new employees. 

There’s no doubt, starting a job remotely can feel isolating. As the first fully remote new employee, I was intimidated to join a team that already knew each other and who had been working in an office space together before the pandemic hit. To simulate grabbing coffee with a coworker, we started to use Donut, a Slack integration tool that connects you one-on-one with a different staff member each week. It has helped immensely to get to know my new colleagues. 

  1. The internet is your greatest ally. 

If you have started in a remote job, you aren’t just a chair-swivel away from asking someone a question anymore. I have learned to always look questions up on the internet (if possible) before asking someone else. Especially if the question is related to software use – odds are someone else has had the same problem and has asked a forum somewhere. 


I’ve been at SoundRocket for over a year now. In that time, we decided to become a 100% fully remote company (even post-COVID), and I’m no longer the new person – we’ve made some other virtual hires. I am already adding significant accomplishments to my experience, after months of trying, I finally won our monthly virtual trivia challenge – twice!

Currently, the FDA only regulates true direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, which have no health care provider involved either before or after testing. Consumer-initiated, physician-mediated genetic tests are considered lab developed tests (LDTs), which currently do not require FDA oversight. 

 

Our Study Design

Our study was designed to simulate the experience of an everyday person who is considering doing a health-related genetic test. For this reason, we only reviewed website contents presented to a consumer before ordering a test. By limiting our data collection to pre-test content, instead of digging around or contacting the companies to fill in missing data points, gaps in public-facing information that consumers use to make ‘informed’ decisions were revealed.  

Also, while a genetic counselor supervised the project, a research assistant (RA) conducted most of the website investigations. The RA was familiar enough with genetics and genetic testing to understand and identify the information presented on the websites, but has not had the clinical exposure that might create bias from knowing how specific tests work “behind-the-scenes”. 

 

To Sum Up

We set out to understand the landscape of health-related consumer genomics testing from the public perspective. By limiting our research (by design) to public-facing pre-test website content, we could not complete our data collection as set out in the protocol. However, this uncovered an important observation: consumer genomics websites are highly variable in content, readability and ease of use. 

This begs the question, if we can’t find basic test information on a consumer genomics website, how does a consumer have enough information to make an informed choice about testing? 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we will dig into our study findings and reveal our most interesting observations.  

 

 

As experts in FDA user comprehension studies for consumer genomics companies seeking 510(k) clearance, we are interested in how everyday people access and understand health content that is meant for them. If you need help optimizing your consumer-directed health communications, we’ve got the in-house expertise and experience to meet your needs. Let’s chat

About the Author

Sophia Bradley

Sophia Bradley has been a research assistant at SoundRocket since 2020. She is an aspiring future genetic counselor, and when not at work, you can find her preparing for graduate school and living the retired college-athlete life by hiking, biking and running on the trails in Southern Michigan (and occasionally the Upper Peninsula).