My big fat Greek onboarding

October 17, 2022

Luu Thuy Minh

And so I turned 30. In a blink of an eye, 11 years have gone by since I first arrived in Finland in the Fall of 2011.

Journey to the past

As a child, I read many books about human nature and psychology. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up, I was simply fascinated by the human mind and its behaviors.

There were not a lot of resources available in Vietnam about different career paths, and classes for young students from ages 6 to 18 were standardized. On top of keeping a decent school record and all the extra evening or weekend classes, there was simply no time to research carefully what job you wanted to do unless you had found your passion very early on. I tried to find universities that offered degrees in human psychology, but none were available. I thought a career in human resources management would be the next suitable option (I know now that these two paths don’t have much in common, but young me thought otherwise, who can blame her? Both have “human” in the title!).

Eventually, I started at RMIT University in Vietnam. One faithful day, on my way back from school, I saw a banner advertising a conference for studying in Finland. One thing lead to another. A journey started.

Fall 2021 - Finland

I studied at Laurea AMK for approximately 4 years where I completed my Business Management degree, specializing in Marketing. Yes, that had even less to do with human psychology, but it was one of the few available degrees in English I could take so what was a girl to do :D I joined many extra courses on other topics of interest. One of those courses changed my life forever - Innovation and Service Design.

In fact, I liked the course so much that I requested the professors to let me take it a second time. For some reason, they agreed. In the first round, I participated in a project for Fujitsu Finland Oy where we were tasked to improve the user interface and user flow of an existing internal communication software. In the second round, I participated as a learning assistant.

We took part in a Service Design project for Långvik Congress Wellness Hotel to improve the collaboration between the hotel and SOK to increase the quality of the hotel services.

Afterward, I dived deeper into the world of user research, UX, and UI Design and participated in or initiated a few software projects to improve my skills.

Graduation 2016


After graduation, I applied to whatever open positions I could find, one of which was a Marketing Intern position at Smarp. During the screening process, they mentioned an unopened UX Researcher position which was more compatible with my CV. I of course agreed to the suggestion, thus kickstarting my career as a UX Designer.

Smarp (now known as Haiilo) is an employee communication platform where each newsfeed contains news from various sources to serve the different communication needs of their employees. Since we were a small design team, I started helping with the UI and user flow design. We initiated a design system for the company to help ease the development process and conducted several usability studies and user research to improve the software. One of my proudest achievements was transforming the old post feed’s layout to a cleaner and more modern one with better readability that was more aligned with the company’s new direction. I wrote a document detailing My Smarp journey and the lessons I’ve learned.

Smarp photo

After 3 years, I wanted to take on a more challenging role, so I moved to LeadDesk as their first in-house designer. LeadDesk is a contact center software, almost every client has a unique setup. The admins work with complicated lists and dashboards to manage their works and agents, while the agents have different tools to serve their contacts. I built a design ecosystem from scratch and helped the company improve the existing software through usability studies and ethnographic research. It was always a lot of fun seeing how users interact with the software I designed.

As I improved my UX and UI skills in my daily work, I studied courses in writing, scrum, motion design, and workshop facilitation in my free time.

Eventually, the challenge I started at the beginning became a familiar routine. Many brilliant findings we discovered from user research were left behind due to the constraints of resources and the need to prioritize client requests in B2B software. I wanted to learn more, to be more.

Definition of Done

Something new

After 6+ years at product companies, I was curious about being a consultant but I was very uncertain. As someone who doesn’t have a design degree or certificate, I had a lot of doubts about my qualifications. Sometimes I felt like I got lucky with my previous jobs, maybe I was just a good talker who made people believe, I felt like an impostor. Would this be enough in a consultant world where there are way more professionals with impressive backgrounds?

In addition, as a UX Designer, there’s nothing in the world I love more than to see the reactions of the users to the improvements I made to a product over time. I want to have the opportunity to work on not only my technical design skills but also my skills in service design, team collaboration, and user research. Would I be able to see or implement these changes as a consultant who is not a part of the actual company?

While applying for different positions, I discovered New Things Co (NTC). During the interviews with the company, I talked to many people with whom I shared my passions, my goals as well as my concerns about being a consultant. One by one, my questions were answered. 

The company offered support to all of its employees, there would be opportunities to improve one’s knowledge and skills through different workshops and courses. What the company valued was the people, their potential, and their ability to find a way forward

I was given insights on how NTC worked, and how they use user-centered approaches and service design to help kickstart green fields projects as well as deliver top-notch digital products to drive companies. They shared how the company was built by the efforts of everyone through communications and collaborations.

Everyone was also completely transparent about their past struggles, moral values, and expectations. It was very refreshing and humane to get to know the company through these conversations. I didn’t feel like I was just a candidate trying to showcase my technical skills, just as myself who wanted to be more. 

Maybe it was luck, or maybe it was me, I received an offer to join the company. I still remembered the phone call like it was yesterday, I felt a little cheesy when I said “I wanted to try something new, so I would love to join New Things Co”

My big fat Greek onboarding

I visited the NTC office for the first time in August to sign the contract. We talked about the technical stuff and the future plan. I learned that I joined just in time to participate in their upcoming Greek onboarding. What a nice surprise! 

Just like that, I became a New Thingie. 

On September 19th, I started my first day at New Things Co. During the first weeks, I talked to our lovely people thingie, Toro, about the company's history, core values, and plans for the future. I spoke to Sini, our customer thingie, to understand more about how projects work in consulting. There were a lot of reading materials on how the company works, thankfully, Toro prepared a Trello board for my onboarding tasks so I wouldn’t get lost. I also had a good discussion with Sami, our CEO thingie, about our past and current financial situations as well as the company strategies. Last but not least, I had meetings with other new thingies to get to know each other.

While working on my onboarding tasks, I helped Toro create a little traveling pamphlet to give everyone a clear understanding of when and where we would be during the trip.

On September 23rd, I was on a plane heading to Crete, Greece. I’d never been there before, so I was very excited about the trip. Here's a view of the island from the plane's window.

View of Crete island from a plane's window

Chania is the city on the northwest coast of Crete. As we rode the bus to the Old Port of Chania, I checked the surrounding areas and realized “This looks very familiar to the suburb and rural areas in Vietnam”. It was very interesting for me. When I visited Paris previously, I noticed that the structure and atmosphere felt very similar to the central area of Ho Chi Minh City too. I wonder about the reasons behind these similarities.

People riding a motorbike in Chania

It was a beautiful, lively city with amazing food. The view of the beach was simply breathtaking. 

We took a walking tour around the center of the Old Port to see the local buildings and shops. After a delicious lunch at a tavern next to the sea, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and a fun evening with team-building activities.

Beach of Chania

On the second day, we split into two groups, one group headed to the mountains while the other headed to the ocean. Even though this was the first time meeting the whole company, somehow I felt like I already knew everyone. There was a sense of familiarity I couldn’t explain. We had a lot of fun together on the trip and a lot of good discussions. Despite having separate projects, the whole company tried to meet at least once a week or organize activities together. This was how we kept the sense of community. In addition, there were many internal improvement projects everyone could participate in. 

On the last day, after a relaxing morning at the beach, we headed back to the Old Port for our last team lunch. Afterward, we had free time to roam around to visit the local shops and check out Chania’s specialties

Greek salad and grilled meat

The flight back was a little hard on me but I got home safe and sound.

After such an eventful first week, I look forward to my new journey at New Things Co.

The fellowship

NTC recently welcomed two talented developers who started roughly a month before me. They would also like to share a few words on their journeys with the company so far.

"Joining a new company after five years at the previous employer is both exciting and unnerving. I heard about NTC via Facebook ads. While I didn't know much about the company, something sparked my interest. I decided to apply, and from there it started. The interview process was smooth, we had good discussions, and I got the impression that this is a workplace where people care about each other. After a couple of interviews and a technical assignment, there was a match between us, and I got ready to start. 

Two weeks after I joined the company, the upcoming Greece trip was happening. I had mixed feelings about going abroad with a bunch of new people, I felt a bit unsure about what to expect. As it turned out, I didn't need to worry. Already at the airport, there was a warm welcoming feeling, and I got to meet the rest of the peeps I hadn't previously met. The trip was well organized, and we had lots of fun moments together. It was a great trip where I felt I got to know the people of NTC better.

My journey so far at NTC has been interesting and filled with insights and learnings. Being self-organized, there's a lot of freedom, responsibility, and also possibility to make your own decisions. I've got great support in finding a good matching project while I've also been working on internal projects as well as doing certifications in cloud technologies. Exciting times!"

- Jeremias

"I was looking for new opportunities in the software sphere when I heard about New Things Co. Their values and ways of working matched what I was looking for, thus I applied. After a really smooth and fast interview process, I was given an offer which I decided to accept.

After joining the company, I heard about the upcoming trip to Crete for everyone, including the newbies.

Going abroad with people I had only known for a few weeks was unnerving at first, but soon after arriving at the airport that was no longer the case.

The trip definitely served as a good onboarding experience. I got to learn more about the company, my colleagues, and the company culture while at the same time learning more about a country I had not visited before, and enjoying the local food and experiences.

So far my journey at NTC has been unlike any consulting company I've worked for in the past. NTC has a strong community and culture, freedom to choose, and overall a different mindset in consulting compared to some of the bigger players.

Overall my time at New Things Co since I joined has been really pleasant and exciting."

- Unto

All scenic photos in this article are taken by Luu Thuy Minh Photography

All photos of our New Thingies are taken by Aki Seppänen.

About the author

Luu Thuy Minh

UX Designer

I'm a UX/UI designer working with companies to create user-driven products on various platforms. I develop design solutions, facilitate workshops and conduct studies to improve the user experience and accessibility of the products.