Onboarding Experience

A UI/UX Designer’s New Hire Experience within a Global Biotech Company

Soleyan, UI designer student’s onboarding experience

UI/UX Designer Onboarding Experience

It took me months to figure out who was the manager and what the head of this team did.

—Sóley, Student UI/UX Designer at a Global Biotech Company.

Student Onboarding, Why Their Journey Matters too

As for all the other new employees, a student’s onboarding experience should incorporate significant, comprehensive, and supportive behaviour, creating belonging and alignment with companies’ values and mission.

Paramount in a student’s self-development and start, with less comparison experience and who may be more reliant on the support and guidance of their employer, a company’s efforts with onboarding should be at their best, but, as we can read in this student’s experience, there have been ups and downs, even within a big corporation.

A comprehensive and supportive onboarding process can help students feel welcomed and valued and can also help them become productive and effective members of the team more quickly. On the other hand, a poor onboarding experience can have negative consequences such as reduced confidence, and lower productivity – which could potentially prolong and delay their professional development and integration within the company, and even a higher likelihood of leaving the company.

It is important for companies to invest in a strong and effective onboarding process to ensure that new hires, including students, can succeed in their roles and become valuable contributors to the organisation. When do you know that you have started to integrate and cross the line between a new employee to an incorporated employee? Extracting from the answers below, you will come to discover.


Sóley’s New Hire Journey


“I was a student assistant, and I was hired as a UI designer there. Later, I changed into being a UI/UX designer. I mostly worked on different UI design and creating apps. 

I had three interviews, very thorough ones. It was at least an hour. So I felt like I knew the team pretty well already, compared to other hiring experiences. So when I came in I felt comfortable

On my first day, I actually only met two people because it was during COVID. Though it’s a very large corporation with huge offices and numerous employees, it was like we were alone.

I felt engaged already through the interviews I had. The first was a very casual one where they got to know my professional views. And the second interview was more technical where it was more into detail of how I do my work and how I implement things. And the last one was very personal. They were asking about my personal goals, like what I had been doing up until now. So I felt like they knew me very well, that was a nice experience. 

Then I started my first day and it was my manager who onboarded me. She was also a UI/UX designer who was the design lead, and she was kind of my buddy/mentor during my first couple of months there. It was nice to have my buddy/mentor there so I could always ask her. 

I also had to take a bunch of courses. On the first days I went into just taking courses about the company. Because it’s a biotech company, it’s quite complex what they work with and what is actually the product. So they were explaining that and the history of the company. So it took a couple of days to go through all that content.”


I don’t know what to ask when I don’t know what exists. I feel like I was always trying to catch information and when I catch something and that’s when I can ask, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Sóley, Student UI/UX Designer at a Global Biotech Company.


It is vital for companies, particularly the global ones, to engage new hires before their first day on the job. It’s not only to build excitement and enthusiasm for the role but it can also ease any anxiety or uncertainty new hires might have about starting their new job.

This can be particularly important for large corporations, as the sheer size of the company can be intimidating for some.

Overall, engaging your new hires before their first day on the job helps to ensure a smooth transition into the role and can set the stage for a successful long-term employment with the company and allows them to hit the ground running on their first day.


First Days On The Job

During the first days, I was doing the courses and was just learning about the company – the top of the Iceberg. It was not about my department but the company as a whole. And then I was given the project. It was quite stressful because I didn’t feel like I knew the company that much, even if I had done all these courses. But I was given the project to create a new illustration style for this global corporation. As a student assistant on my first days, I felt quite stressed out about it, but the buddy that I had, she was very comforting. I’ve never had a buddy from my previous jobs, and that was nice.

Providing a buddy for new hires is extremely beneficial for both the new hire and the company. For the new hire, a buddy can provide a valuable source of support and guidance as new hires navigate around their new role. Buddies and mentors can answer questions, provide advice, and introduce the new hire to the company’s culture and practices and everything else that you can’t find in the employee handbook. 

This can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed or alone that many new hires experience. More-so, it can also increase the chances of your employee retention because new employees who feel supported and integrated are more likely to stay longer in the company.


The Challenges of Starting a New Job in a Global Biotech Corporation

I felt like even if I took all these courses, it’s still a jungle. It’s a huge corporation and there’s so many different departments. The product is complex, it’s in so many different industries, and I always felt lost.

This was because the courses are made for every single employee in the company, and not particularly for me, I felt like I did not get a thorough explanation of even my department. I didn’t know for the first three months or something that I was a part of a team within the department that was called something. I didn’t know that because nobody told me that. I don’t know what to ask when I don’t know what exists. I just thought I was a part of the design team, but apparently I was a part of a sales team as well. I just didn’t know better. So I feel like they just forgot to tell me those things because there’s a lot of that, especially with big corporations. It took me months to figure out who was the manager and what the head of this team did.


As a student assistant on my first days, I felt quite stressed out about it, but the buddy that I had, she was very comforting.

Sóley, Student UI/UX Designer at a Global Biotech Company.


The Journey to Reaching Full Productivity

“I think it took me a couple of months to reach full productivity. I felt insecure for a long time, but I don’t think it’s the company’s fault. I think it was actually COVID. I felt super distant to my team and I didn’t understand the culture for the longest time. I didn’t understand how it would be to reach out to people because I never met them in person and I was lucky that I could meet them on my first day. So I’d say it took me half a year because I felt insecure asking questions because I felt so distant and disconnected.

But then after that half a year I was on top of my game and reaching out to whomever and doing my work.”


The time it takes for a new hire to become fully productive can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the role and services the company offers, the new hire’s level of experience and skill, the company’s size, and the effectiveness of the pre & onboarding process. 

The effectiveness of pre & onboarding can minimise all the above factors and bring the following advantages instead: the productivity of the new employee increases; the company becomes attractive to other candidates, the organisational culture becomes more solid, increases the retention rate, and most important the employees achieve their goals faster.

According to Harvard Business Review, a newly hired employee typically takes eight months to reach full productivity (this can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances). So it’s a wonder why, according to Abeerdeen, only 37% of companies extend their onboarding programmes beyond the first month. 

A new employee in a company, even if he/she has worked in such a position before, will not know precisely what he/she must do. However, it takes time for the employee to get acquainted. And in the period of integration into the new team, a mentor to guide and teach him is essential.

Simply providing a thorough and well-organised pre & onboarding journey can help your new hires become more productive and hit the ground running even from day one. Some strategies include assigning a mentor or buddy to provide support and guidance or setting clear goals and expectations for the role. You can find more in our article: 10 Steps to Build a Successful Employee Onboarding Process

There’s no company where these things come by themselves; they come with an effort from management, buddy/mentor, entire team, so before you ask new hires for results, make sure you think about what you’ve done to make them feel safe and integrated.


I’d say it took me half a year (to become fully productive) because I felt insecure asking questions because I felt so distant and disconnected with my team.

Sóley, Student UI/UX Designer at a Global Biotech Company.


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