My Experience as a PM Intern at Atlassian

Reposted from Medium in January 2018.

Last year in November, I joined Atlassian as a Product Management intern on the Platform team. The first few months have been a hell of a ride, and evidently, I enjoyed it enough to stay on as an Associate Product Manager. In this blog post, I try to convey a few unique aspects about this crazy tech company that I noticed within the first few months of my time here.

The t-shirt frenzy

“Do you have any t-shirts left? Ah, that might be too big for me. Ah well, I’ll take it anyway.” — every Atlassian intern.

If you have ever worked near an Atlassian office, particularly the one in Sydney, you will have a glimpse of how crazy the t-shirt frenzy here is. People here, willingly wear it as a uniform, like, every single day.

Remember in high school, when you had to wear the same uniform as everyone else so you would always know if someone went to the same school as you? Well, that’s Atlassian, except here, people are wearing it every day, willingly and proudly. You would think that they would also just wear it during office hours, but I have identified colleagues because of their t-shirt at my local cafe, train station and shopping centres on the weekend.

Don’t be fooled — this our t-shirt wall, but we have WAYYYY more t-shirts than this.

And if t-shirts wasn’t enough, you have Atlassian branded backpacks, water bottles, KeepCups, caps… and with all of the people that come into work with thongs (or flip flops, for you non-Australians), I am surprised there’s no Atlassian branded thongs.

Key Takeaway? Atlassian employees are proud to be part of Atlassian! Willingly wearing a t-shirt every single day is a testimony to that.

Geekin’ it out

Atlassian has a lot of different social groups to ensure that work is more than just work. From DnD campaigns, to Poker nights, to Magic the Gathering lunchtime sessions and beer brewing, Atlassian has a place for almost anyone, especially if you’re bit of a geek.

I mean… seriously though, we made Darth Vader and Chewbacca our Christmas trees and I got a Gundam from my manager’s manager for Christmas…

Key Takeaway? Atlassian is a geek haven. But don’t worry if you’re not, because there’s so many other social groups out there for you.

Being a “big company” has its own challenges

There is a common misconception that once you’re beyond the startup stage, life will just get easier. Startups have their own challenges, but so do big companies. As someone that has almost exclusively worked for small startups, coming into Atlassian was a huge shock to me.

One of the biggest things that new hires struggle with at Atlassian is that they are often overwhelmed by how many things are going on at Atlassian. As a result, trying to understand “everything” is a futile effort. Even learning all of the different teams that exist in the company is a challenge itself! As a result, decision-making and cross-product collaboration becomes even harder, especially since Atlassian now have offices spanning over 13 countries.

The challenges of a “big company” are particularly apparent for someone like me who works in product management, as I am responsible for determining what direction we should take with a certain product. In a small company, you will be the expert of your product you will often only have one product. But Atlassian, has so many products, and hence an infinite amount of moving pieces to consider when you make big decisions. As a result, stakeholder management becomes a crucial skill for decision-makers to have.

Key Takeaway? Working in a big company is not always “easy”! Information overload, stakeholder buy-ins, and cross-company collaboration are some of the bigger challenges a big company would have.

Values at the core of the company

Every company has its “values” — you will see them on their website and in articles, but very few actually live up to it. But ever since my first day at Atlassian, it has been drilled down to me how important these values are. These values that guide our business decisions, brand and product development. In fact, we take it so seriously that we often use these five pillars as a way to measure culture fit for new hires at Atlassian. Personally, this was what impressed me the most about the company. Being a values-driven company at scale is possibly one of the most difficult things to achieve.

Atlassian Company Values

Key Takeaway? Ensuring that the whole company is aligned with the values means that the whole company is aligned with the vision.

First day at Atlassian — dump the interns into an escape room!

Conclusion

I can see why Atlassian has been voted the best place to work multiple times. Beyond all of its perks like geeky groups or cool swag, the challenges employees get to solve are genuinely interesting and impactful. It also helps that I definitely feel like the dumbest person in the room – a good place to be for any person who is looking to accelerate their learning.

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