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Nailing a new role during a pandemic: insights from Berkeley’s ‘Rookie of the Year’

Written by Natalie Maher

23 November 2021


I joined Berkeley as an Account Executive in April 2021, having previously been in an in-house marketing role for two years. Before joining, I remember being nervous about adapting to the hustle and bustle of agency life alongside the world of tech, all whilst being fully remote due to the pandemic. But Berkeley have helped me adapt well to a very busy, but very rewarding agency. Here’s tips from my experience of starting a new role remotely and thriving in a pandemic.

It starts with the onboarding process

My onboarding process was, as you can imagine, very Teams heavy! Having had my equipment delivered by courier, I set my desk up in the dining room and prepared myself for the first meeting of the day. I haven’t admitted this until now but, having done all of my meetings on Google Meet and Zoom in my past job, I had no clue how to even join a Teams meeting. After successfully negotiating that hurdle, I enjoyed a week of ‘nice to e-meet you’ and ‘you’re on mute’ catchphrases, whilst trying to muddle together an office layout in my head.

Joining remotely made for a smooth onboarding process, and by the end of my first week I was stuck into writing pitches for one of my clients. The Berkeley team’s ‘give it a go’ approach resonated well with me and, before I knew it, I was busy making journalist connections and writing press releases and byline articles. My team and colleagues were quick to encourage, advise and praise me, and I soon found my confidence flourishing.

Set goals and objectives

I really enjoy how Berkeley is willing to support my aspirations and goals, giving me more responsibility and accountability as time goes on. Having passed my probation period, I was promoted to Senior Account Executive, which shows my ambitions are taken seriously and commitment to aid me on my career path are genuine.

As someone who likes to constantly be on my toes and is always looking for the next challenge when it comes to my career, working for a company that constantly ensures I am satisfied is a breath of fresh air. A great example of this is when I helped pitch (and win!) new business in my first six months, which also gave me the chance to work alongside the senior team which was a great experience.

Building a work community

Obviously, it’s important to make ‘work friends’, especially for a bubbly (some prefer loud) comms professional like me. Luckily, the week I joined a few other AEs were also starting. But being remote meant that different teams didn’t get the chance to meet properly, so us newbies didn’t know half of the PR team. However, Teams introductions soon blossomed into friendships and provided comfort that there were others in the same position, who you could share advice with.

I’ve also found that connections made within the agency happen at all levels. I’ve particularly enjoyed the ‘my door is always open’ policy and approachable nature of the senior leadership team. Our UK and group MDs foster a ‘making people the priority’ ethos which runs through the veins of the agency. Both take the time to listen to any concerns or suggestions that every member of the team has, whatever their role or however long they have been at the agency. In fact, after an introductory meeting with our MD Rhiannon, my ‘AE buddy’ scheme was born. You might often hear a senior team say that they will promise to make changes, but it is refreshing to see my suggestion implemented and benefiting the agency in my first six months.

Thriving in a new role, while remote

All in all, it’s the people who made my lockdown onboarding such a smooth process. From kind and understanding clients (I really struck gold with each account) to supportive and patient team members, I’ve slotted comfortably in to a very busy but very rewarding community.

So much so that my colleagues voted me ‘Rookie of the Year’ at Berkeley’s annual awards – again huge testament to the appreciation and support of the team around me and the agency’s commitment to the success of its people as well as its clients.

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