Would you turn down an invitation to your first company social?
“Hi Joyce, …” read a Telegram message from a then-faceless staff from The Pique Lab (hi Marilyn!). Since it was two weeks before my start date with TPL, I was expecting another onboarding message from her.
But it turned out to be an invitation to a company social.
I might have been a little too hopeful that the RSVP list would have an option that read something like “TBC”. As an introvert, I was worried about awkward silences with people I didn’t know well. It would be nice if I could meet them first before deciding to spend two more hours with them after work.
But let’s be real – indicating “Not Attending” was probably not the right move for a new hire in her second week of work.
🤫 An Introvert’s Escape Plan
One week with The Pique Lab had passed and I have yet to meet the other teams. I was curious about this “young, passionate team who work like a close-knit family”. But my introverted self naturally mapped out an escape plan for the night.
If the networking doesn’t go well, I’m getting out by 9.40 PM. Perfectly acceptable to leave 10 minutes after the end time, right?
But for now, here I was setting up the fairy lights and paper lanterns at the dinner venue. A buffet spread was set up on the front porch and those of us who had arrived earlier were finishing up the decoration.
So we all know how frightening a job interview can be. But it can’t top the anxiety of staring at a blank screen minutes before your interviewer finally appears. Waiting for the other teams to arrive was reminiscent of that unbearable quiet before the storm.
🏮 Mid-Autumn Festival Dinner Party
Thankfully, I was greeted by warm, inviting smiles and “hello, you are..?”s as the rest of them filed into the house. But I was then left struggling to remember everyone’s names, which teams they are in, and match the right names to the right faces.
Add the alumni team members to the list. It was easier to pick them out from the crowd with the noticeably more enthusiastic “long time no see!” greetings and conversations about their latest life updates. Like old friends making up for time apart.
The interns were not forgotten too: Farah, a Product Management intern who works remotely still came by despite having to leave early.
Ah, perhaps you will always be remembered and welcome here.
My table mates exchanged funny work episodes, travel plans (A Bali getaway was the most popular option) and complaints of frequent lower back aches (#ageing). The more sociable ones amongst us shuttled between our candle-lit tables, reappearing at our table with someone new each time.
The durian lovers made sure that we had a taste of Golden Moments’ Hazelnut Mao Shan Wang snow skin mooncakes they had voted for the menu. We then picked out our favourite design from the wide selection of paper lanterns, lit them and paraded them around the estate.
💭 They Were Once Like Me
There must have been a time when each of them had to learn to make sense of a new environment. But the outgoing, the reserved, the anime fan, and the travel buff all did.
Even the ones who had joined before me had blended in well. I wouldn’t have been able to tell that they had only joined the team this year if they didn’t tell me!
Despite how different all of them were, the mix seemed to work – in a way that I can’t explain yet.
I didn’t realise how much time had passed until the caterer pulled up outside the house. By then, new groups had formed and were chatting away in full force. It seemed that most of them were not yet ready to call it a day. Not even when the party had overrun by more than an hour – and with a whole work week ahead of us.
I would be lying if I said that the party was completely comfortable. Occasional silences still punctured the hearty conversations, banter and laughter, as you would expect from anyone at the end of a work day.
But at the very least, I didn’t think about executing my escape plan that night. And I’m already looking forward to our next reunion – or in other words, it’s a yes to the year-end Malacca retreat.