Some believe there’s one route, one combination to doing things ‘right’. Some believe that life is a really rubbish, one-way game of points-scoring: every decision you make is either a really good one or a really bad one with no in-betweens, and when you go for the really bad one it starts a chain reaction that leads to an eternal life of being average – no take-backs, no do-overs.
I believe we all need to chill out.
And I should know.
I went from a catholic school, the literal embodiment of tradition, to a sixth form where everyone was in fierce competition with one another – and not the healthy kind. Everyone was fighting to be Oxbridge material. You found yourself in unchartered waters, and you were expected to float for two years regardless of wellbeing – because, what was the point of life if you didn’t have A levels from a prestigious sixth form, right?
Going from years of being in business attire to yet another institution where we were bound by rules and this black and white approach just wasn’t for me.
It’s not like I wasn’t capable of being at sixth form. I’ve always worked hard and achieved well. What was breaking point was the knowledge that everyone was a carbon copy of each other. It was the same answers, the same mannerisms, the same routine to be the best. If you’re imitating everyone around you in order to ‘stand out’, don’t you just end up blending in?
So I did the thing that was unheard of, and I quit.
And actually, I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.
Swapping from sixth form to college was the introduction to the real world I needed. There was backlash (how long did it take for me to tell my parents? Yeah, quite a long time) because of the idea that college is a walk in the park, but that’s the idea we’ve been fed all our lives.
And college was a breath of fresh air, but not in the way you’d expect it to be.
What you did was all up to you. You wore what you wanted to wear, worked as hard as you wanted to work, conducted yourself in a way that was comfortable rather than robotic, with university suggested rather than imposed. It was such a difference to the restrictive atmosphere I’d been introduced to sixth form, to be allowed to choose my future rather than have it catch me unawares. It was such a difference to be able to work hard because I wanted to work hard, rather than because there was a judgmental tutor at the other end of the process.
Skip forward past my degree in Business Management and Marketing, and I was almost feeling just like I’d done at sixth form. However well I’d done, I thought what happened next would be dictated by what was written in the unofficial graduate rule book rather than what I personally desired – one step forward, two steps back. I’d managed to prevent myself from becoming another one of the crowd as long as I could, but I wouldn’t be able to escape it anymore now that I had a degree just like everyone else job-searching at that moment in time.
Blending in was an eventuality, however much I wanted something else – that was my mentality.
And that’s why the first face-to-face interview I had with Orama stands out so much. I played to the stereotype before I could stop myself, an innately interview-ready brain making sure I did and said ‘the right things’, the things every other interviewer had expected from me up until now.
But being the cookie-cutter candidate wasn’t what I was looking for: and it wasn’t what Orama expected, either. Sam and Paul didn’t want the answers I’d been told were ‘acceptable’. They wanted personality, they wanted drive, they wanted to know I wasn’t just another candidate looking for any old career. They wanted autonomy – something I’d never have really found and encouraged to pursue, had I not made the decision to follow my nose to college all those years ago.
(The presentation-style stage that got me the job was about my love of pasta. Let that be a lesson about how we do things here.)
The best thing about Orama is that, in a nutshell, it lacks structure even though it’s full of it. It’s full of ambition, with none of the controls that eventually transform ambition into complacency. We aren’t all over the place: we work hard, we bill even harder, and every single one of us knows what it takes to achieve. But no one is too scared to do something different, to generate organic conversation, to be comfortable enough to stray from what every other workplace would traditionally expect of us.
It’s true that there’s an art to this career, but we’re all so different as people and encouraged to use that rather than resort to becoming carbon copies. We’re taught the basics here and we’re taught them well, but how we use these basics and what we make of them is up to us . And if we mess up? It’s a learning curve rather than eternal damnation.
It’s fitting, because I’ve gone from having an endless list of boundaries to deciding what I want and how I want to make it happen. This room to achieve without limits is refreshing in a sector where, usually, the term ‘no micromanagement’ comes with silent small print.
And thank god for my sixth form self-exile, for ingraining in me the idea that I was better off without guidelines in place, that I could be successful more so without following the tried and tested methods. Orama is built upon individuality and difference. It’s the essence of our success, the way we speak to people within the tech sector sans instruction manuals – after all, the industry we work with has found its success in defying restraints just as much as our young team has.
I thought recruitment would be a massive throwback to the days of old.
I thought recruitment would be limited navigation in an environment where the lines were drawn, so that my career would become more about what was expected rather than what I wanted.
I thought recruitment was about sticking to tradition because there’s no knowing what could happen without it.
Not at Orama.