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Lessons Learned From Starting a Job Remotely

Whether you’re an intern or a manager, it’s important to understand the challenges and best practices for starting a new job remotely. In this article, three of Branch's remote hires share their advice and reflections about starting a new job virtually.

Whether you’re an intern or a manager, it’s important to understand the challenges and best practices for starting a new job remotely. At Branch, we’ve onboarded several new employees since the pandemic began, filling 3 different roles across the US and Canada. Below, you’ll find our advice and reflections about starting a new job remotely.

The Intern


A rising senior at Brown, Elinor joined Branch in mid-June as a remote Growth Intern. Her work includes content marketing, social media strategy, and other growth-related projects.

How did you find out about the internship position, and what was the interview process like?

Like many college students, COVID-19 had led to a string of canceled internships that I spent most of March and April applying for. However, some college friends created a newsletter called “internfromhome” meant to connect college students with startups hiring remote interns. I was initially pessimistic about the odds of finding an internship through it, as most seemed focused on coding or sales, but eventually, a position labeled “Growth Intern'' caught my eye. After reading about Branch’s transition to selling direct to consumer, I was intrigued and excited about the chance to work at a rapidly growing startup.

The interview process was pretty different from the in-person interviews I’d done before. It consisted of three total calls—one with Sib, a co-founder and Head of Product, and then with Torin, the Growth Lead. Both of those interviews took place over the phone, so the button-up shirt I had dug out of my closet was all for naught. My third interview was a video call with Greg and Verity, Branch’s other co-founders. I was excited that all three co-founders took the time to chat with me; also, each interview was a little less technical and more conversational than the last, which helped me feel increasingly excited and less nervous as I progressed to the “final round”.

Were you considering any other internships?

When Branch offered me the internship, I had a few other opportunities that I was considering. I had accepted a part-time job as a public speaking coach, and I also had been offered a similar position at an education startup. Two key factors led to me deciding Branch:

1. The effort they put into making sure I talked to all my teammates and all the co-founders showed me that they value collaboration and having a team mentality.

2. They were willing to be flexible and work with my schedule—an absolute must considering all the uncertainty COVID has caused in my life. Since I was working another part-time job and navigating plans to move back to my college town, I didn’t want to be stuck with a rigid schedule.

When deciding on the right virtual internship, I would definitely recommend focusing on how engaging the team is, and how flexible they are!

What was the onboarding process like?

I enjoyed the onboarding process, though it was definitely overwhelming at first. Thankfully, my first few assignments were to read through a list of resources that my manager had curated for me. This helped me get oriented and better understand the technical jargon behind what I’d be doing. In addition, my first to-do list included setting up 30 minute 1:1 calls with as many people on the team as possible– I’d definitely recommend setting up 1:1s as soon as you can when you start a new internship. It’s a great way to feel more comfortable on the team and it gives you the chance to understand what’s going on in every part of the company.


The New Hire


Keisha joined Branch in late June for our Customer Success role. She makes sure that our customers have an excellent buying experience, from the time they view our products to the time they start using them.

What motivated you to apply for your role? How was the interview process different from the interviews you’ve done before?

I started looking for a new job after COVID-19 really started to impact the job market. I knew I wanted to pivot away from the industry I was in, and the pandemic posed an interesting opportunity to do just that. It seemed as though all industries were rethinking their approach to doing business, so I thought it would be a great time for me to shift my role and priorities as well. I was introduced to Branch and the Customer Success role through a previous colleague of mine who had studied at the same university as Verity, Branch's Head of Operations.

Luckily for me, I have grown up in a job environment that leans towards online interaction, so the virtual interview process didn’t seem too unfamiliar to me. Although the process was quite straightforward, getting ready for it was the odd part. After months in isolation, I prepared for interview #1 by putting on my trusty mascara for the first time in weeks and steaming one of the few linen shirts I had brought up north, where I was isolating.

What was the onboarding process like? Did you use any particularly helpful resources?

I think when starting a new job, especially remotely, it is extremely helpful and productive to be a self-starter and set up as many 1:1’s as possible. Getting to know your team faster helps you learn more effectively and brings more opportunities to the table. I think I had met everyone in less than a week and was feeling extremely motivated because of it! The onboarding experience is often different from one job to another but while working remotely I really had to learn the new software independently. So I watched a lot of video tutorials online for the various tools the team was using, trying to see what worked best. And, of course, the team was there to help me over Slack or video when need be!

How do you prefer to communicate with your coworkers?

For me, my method of communication depends on what I need to communicate. I prefer taking the time to call even for five minutes as you can get things solved quickly and effectively compared to a lot of back and forth trying to explain something. Of course, using Slack is the preferred way to pass along information, and is great for sharing quick ideas with multiple people at once. When I first started, I noticed how great the team was at connecting and responding to each other which made me feel a part of the team right off the bat! Everyone checked in on me and how I was doing throughout my first few days as well which felt important as I had not met anyone in person. As you can imagine, the “office water cooler” talk doesn’t happen so organically anymore.


The Manager


Noah joined Branch in mid-March as the Toronto General Manager. His work primarily consists of enterprise sales, but also encompasses plenty of operations and customer success functions.

You were hired right around the time that the pandemic really hit North America. What was it like to join a company amid so much uncertainty?

It was all pretty wild. I went into my first day thinking that it would be a regular day (which would’ve included a furniture install and lunch with one of our co-founders, Verity), but Toronto and the province of Ontario ended shutting down the same day. So it was definitely a different start than I’d expected.

Additionally, within my first two weeks, we started the process of pivoting to selling WFH furniture, so change has been more-or-less a constant since I’ve started. It’s been exciting!

Luckily, our CEO Greg and I had worked together in the past & met in person before I signed my offer there. And I got to meet Verity on my first day, so there was at least some in-person familiarity with a few of the team members. However, I don’t know when I’ll get to meet the rest of our team in New York!

As GM, your job includes growing the Canada team. How did your approach to finding and hiring new talent change in light of the pandemic?

I think the approach to getting applicants was honestly relatively unchanged. We focused on posting jobs on Indeed, our website, and LinkedIn and also reached out to our network to get referrals.

For the interviews themselves, I ended up having a preference for video for my interviews, but I do wonder if our initial screening calls should’ve been audio-based (as I know video interviews can be quite nerve-wracking). If we were ever to hire for a role remotely again, I think I’d do audio calls for the first round of interviews and video calls as people get further through the process.

How did you plan for onboarding your new hire, Keisha?

Luckily, we’re cloud-based at Branch, so that lent itself for easy collaboration across Google Docs, Slack, and some of our other internal tools.

A lot of the planning was through a Google Doc that covered the specific topics we’d be covering in onboarding along with our target milestones throughout the onboarding process.

Additionally, Keisha is a (self-described) visual learner, so I did a lot of the onboarding and showing of tools via video calls while sharing my screen. That way, she could see all the content as I talked through the specifics. We also set-up shadowing calls with other team members (where they also shared their screens).

For questions, I made extra clear that I could be ‘bothered’ at any time for questions via Slack. I think it’s key to overemphasize this at the beginning of any onboarding process.

Lastly, a key part of onboarding was ensuring that she was able to meet all our team members via video call. While this obviously isn’t the same as meeting in person, it’s so key to have buy-in for this across an organization while everyone’s working remotely!

On new furniture, exclusive sales and more.

Thank You!