My first few months at Dover: what it was like to join a new company remotely

Sharon Yeh

I switched jobs in the middle of the pandemic — and from the stable world of management consulting to a seed startup, no less. 47 million Americans lost their jobs in 2020, and new college grads have struggled to find work. But in industries like tech, hiring is still happening (& happening a lot). I had the opportunity to put things into perspective & focus on finding a job I really loved. That job ended up being at Dover, as an Engagement Manager.

Prior to March 2020, Dover had an HQ in SF. In a normal world, I would have been welcomed into an office downtown & met my co-workers face to face on the first day. But instead, I joined & onboarded the team remotely.

As of now, plans to return to the office remain flexible, and we’ve updated all of our JDs to strike out the line “SF preferred” — replacing it with “Remote”.

While I was transitioning to my role at Dover, people in my network were changing companies, too. Some of them are now feeling overwhelmed or lonely as they adjust to working from home with teams they don’t really know. Starting a new job is already a lot of pressure, but trying to integrate into a community while isolated in your apartment/on Zoom was even more intimidating.

Coming from my past work experience, I knew that the only way I’d survive late nights and hard work would be because of my connections to the people around me. My coworkers had made work fun, even in the worst of times — and I was looking for that again.

I’m 3 months into my role at Dover and I’m feeling totally integrated into our team. I’m connected, confident, and loving the work I do. But I know many people whose remote onboarding experiences weren’t as smooth. So I chatted with them and reflected on how my experience was different. These conversations have helped me figure out what it was that made Dover special in how we continue to onboard remote employees, and make them all feel like a true part of our team.

Read on to learn more :)

1. Our team is cross functional & highly collaborative

When I used to hear the words “remote culture” I would think of happy hours on Zoom, and not much else. But while Dover does host virtual hangouts on the reg, it’s really been working with my colleagues on projects that has helped me create the strongest relationships.

Dover is a team of 21 FTEs today & I’ve interacted with everyone at least five times in these first three months. The foundation of our company is teamwork, and that is very much built into my role & our culture. For example: in my role as an EM, I spend a lot of time with customers, I do analysis work in SQL, I run account management processes, & I spec out features/designs for our product. It’s a ton of jobs in one, and that naturally leads to a lot of cross team collaboration.

I’ve recently had the chance to work with two of our engineers on a special project, and I also work with other Engagement Managers on a daily basis. As an early member of our team, I’ve collaborated with the founders (& continue to collaborate with them) directly. Roles at Dover being as cross functional as they are has made it easy for me to really get to know my coworkers. People I know at other companies may have happy hours & team parties, but they don’t always have the opportunity to build relationships through collaboration like I do.

The opportunity to be this cross functional is something that feels unique to Dover. Whether I want to sit in on more sales calls, or do more SQL, everyone on our team is down to help me accomplish my goals. Judging from my interview process with other startups, that level of support is rare for early stage companies where people are siloed due to bandwidth constraints. Thoughtful development & mentorship aren’t usually on anyone’s radar this early — but I can already tell that Dover prioritizes helping me learn and grow, regardless of how busy things are.

2. We’re naturally motivated to get to know each other

As I mentioned before, coming from my past work experience, I knew that the only way I’d survive late nights and hard work would be because of the people around me. Connections to coworkers make work meaningful & I was really looking for that in my next role. As I went through the interview process with various companies, I started to feel that I clicked the most with Dover people. The interview process was designed to get me comfortable with everyone, and it worked. I even remember turning to my boyfriend at one point in the process and saying “dude, I really like these people!” I could imagine myself enjoying working here.

One thing (or person…) that made me nervous, though, was our CEO, Max. I actually left our initial phone screens feeling intimidated. Max was very direct, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge me as I went through the interview process. He always seemed excited that I was moving forward through rounds — but I wondered whether I’d continue to feel this intimated on the job.

Then, during my first week, we had a chance to talk a bit about our interests outside of work (…we ended up bonding over mutual love for Dave/Lil Dicky) and it made me realize he was actually really funny and easy to talk to. As I started to get to know the rest of the team this way, my intuition about “fitting in” at Dover was validated, and my nerves completely melted away. Everyone on the team — even the founders — are really down-to-earth.

The people on our team are impressive, which has motivated me to get to know them individually; there’s so much I know I can learn from everyone. Over time, seeing distinct personalities shine has only added to my desire to connect, and helped me become 100% comfortable being myself around everyone, which I’d never experienced in a work environment before! These are not just people I vibe with, but people who care about making each others’ lives easier and better. My coworkers freely give credit to others and are generous about helping to develop them. I’m constantly learning from them, and am made to feel that the reverse is also true: and people are learning from me, too. I’m happy to say I’ve felt the same level of admiration & likeness for each hire we’ve made since I joined.

3 — Onboarding was well-designed

At my old company, I had a dedicated three week training process with a cohort of other consultants. It was structured 9–5, session after session, almost like being back in school again. I personally like to learn by doing — not by reading or studying, and because things were so structured, it was harder to get to know people during the day.

By contrast, my onboarding at Dover made it very easy to get to know other people and get a crash course in the EM role. New Engagement Managers have a round-robin type process where they work closely with other EMs on the team as they ramp up. Naturally, you get to know those people a lot better during those sessions. Dover trusts new employees & doesn’t require them to spend weeks on end in pure “learning” mode. Instead, the goal is to wean employees off the help of others so they can be independent at a faster pace. By day 2, I was listening in on a client call and owning the follow up tasks.

Something I loved in my first two weeks were the opportunities I had to have high-level-overview type conversations with Max, George & Anvisha (our founders). This was a great way to break the ice, learn more about them, and get a window into how they thought about our business. I left these conversations feeling energized and freshly connected to our mission. At larger cos, the founders are usually too busy to meet every new employee — but we’re still able to do that here, and it goes a long way.

4 — Fun stuff

No surprise that social events have also played a factor in helping me feel integrated into our team. We have virtual hang outs every Friday where we play games or just generally talk & laugh about startup life. We’ve also done some in-person (socially distanced) things in SF. With all of the fun events we have and the team’s emphasis on making remote work fun, I feel like I’ve known everyone for years instead of just months and it’s crazy to me that I’ve never met some of the team in-person. It definitely doesn’t feel that way.

Day to day life at Dover also has its random & weird quirks, which has made it easy for me to not take things so seriously. We have fun channels in slack like #stonks, #radio, and even a meme-y GPT-3 bot the eng team built that we can interact with for some laughs. I remember looking through these things when I first joined, trying to get a better sense of my new coworkers. After scrolling through it I realized — “oh these people are super chill, they like to have fun.” Even if you’re not participating, it feels nice to be included on things like this.

Reflecting on the past 3 months…

Prior to joining Dover, my career was entirely consulting. Switching to any other job on the industry side was going to be a big deal for me. Add to that the idea of onboarding remotely and you can see why I was very nervous about joining Dover. But after being here for 3 months, it feels like exactly what I want to do for years to come.

The sense of being invested in something & passionate about it is priceless. I find myself wanting to put in the extra work vs. being forced or expected to. I always want to do more out of excitement & because I want to push the company mission forward. Plus, being part of a small team with people who are hardworking & engaged is rewarding. I can see that the founders work later & harder than I do — which inspires me & is a big contrast to companies I’ve worked at before.

At big companies, I never got this feeling because I never got exposure to the people at the top. They could have been working hard, too — but there was so much hierarchy that I never saw it. Employees at companies like that don’t get the same level of buy-in.

I’m super happy to have had such a great onboarding experience & am excited to see how our culture continues to evolve & scale.

What’s next?

Thanks for reading my post about my experience at Dover!

If Dover sounds like the place for you, check out our careers page. We’re hiring!

Sharon Yeh