My first week of work at Gawker Media was a dream: I got some blogs up, enjoyed office snacks while they were still new and fresh to me, enjoyed my coworkers while they were still new and fresh to me, attended one of their swanky book parties, and on the final day of that week, learned that the company that paid my salary was liable for upwards of a hundred million in damages.
It was like a dream in the sense that at the end, you feel like you’ve churned through a week’s worth of emotion, and you’re slick with cold sweat. While this is an odd situation to find yourself in right after arriving at a new workplace, with many young folks hopping jobs and landing at riskier businesses, more and more may find themselves in similar waters. Here is some advice from my experience should you ever find yourself in this scenario.
When chaos looms, focus on the task at hand. As the world around you threatens to crumble, pretend nothing is happening and focus yourself on any one thing, such as the location of water coolers. At this point you’ve got a lot to learn: people to know, technologies to master, paperwork to complete. In that sense, you’ve been blessed with so many potential distractions from everything else. Also, everything else is fine! In fact, you have never known it to be any other way. Your real advantage as a newcomer is that you have no idea what the baseline was, anyway.
Divert conversations about “work.” Your friends and family, even those who’ve never before talked to you about any detail of your “work,” might have seen some splashy stories about its bankruptcy, and might vaguely remember that you work there, and might want to talk about it. Rather than addressing how this news may affect you directly, unfold this into a broader conversation about the ideological incoherence of certain billionaires or about the potential “chilling effect” on the industry. This will either result in an engaging conversation about those high-minded topics or bore them enough that they change the subject. Both outcomes are great.
Band together in adversity. Office small talk is never richer or more emotional than when your coworkers are undergoing the same dramas as you. Let the exchange of sincere emotions accelerate your friendships. Crack some dark jokes with your new colleagues—gallows humor is fun! Tw*sted, even. If you’re really lucky, your employer might even throw several parties with beer and pizza, more than you have enjoyed at any other company, bankrupt or otherwise.
Learn some neat stuff about the law. Brush up on the legal intricacies or political workings of your company’s particular drama. You’ll end up a smarter parser of legalese with a sense of wonderment about the thorny set of rules that govern our great (or soon-to-be great) nation. You should be grateful, really, for this opportunity.
It’s fine. You’re going to be fine.
This is Gawker Media’s last week as an independent media operation, and while that shouldn’t affect you much one way or the other as a reader, we’re still going to take advantage of a pretext to run some especially fun and stupid posts.