Outside Insight.

Ever wondered what it’s like working at Hunch? Here’s an outsider’s perspective from the lovely Emily Moore who spent a week with us on “work experience”…

Straight from the student slums of Dunedin, I got roped into coming up to the big smoke to do a week’s work experience with Hunch. Having only ever had summer jobs in remote locations with dysfunctional dairy owners and being very much immersed in the university bubble, I had no idea how people function in the ‘real world’. I was about to find out.

I gave Michael a call a few weeks in advance to say when I’d be arriving.

“Great! I will forget that between now and then. So the plan is, when you turn up, come and introduce yourself and we’ll just wing it from there.”

I am relieved. I think I can handle that.

Monday morning

At 8.30am, I rock up and walk past what looks like an adult’s play pen, set up with an X-box, large white sheets of drawing paper and colourful couches and cushions.

“Morning! You must be Emily,” says a man who must be Michael. Damn, he hasn’t forgotten.

I quickly befriend the most approachable member of the team, Felix the dog.

My first task is fetching coffees. At the cafe I can’t get the eftpos card to work so I freak out and in my panic I order all regular flat whites. Sarah specifically asked for a small. Shit shit shit, she’s going to hate me.

Apparently, we start the week with a 9am briefing in the play-pen room. I get my first introduction to corporate jargon as we go through WIP (work in progress). Thankfully, Michael introduces the team to me in a simple way:

“This is Graham and Matt who make stuff, and this is Sarah and Kat who make stuff happen.”

We’re meant to start with 5 minutes of inspiration, but we don’t because Matt forgot to do it. Graciously, the team ask me about myself, and I start to tell them about the philosophy course I’ve just done. Then with horror, I hear something come out of my mouth along the lines of “You guys aren’t actually scary, you’re all just sacks of skin, like the dog.” There is a pause. They stare at me with a mix of surprise and pity.

“Emily…you’ve not met us yet…but did you just call us all scrotums?” Michael asks.

I give a desperate smile. It’s going to be a long week.

I spend the day sitting at a desk with the “creative team” who seem to be rather elusive folk, as only Matt is actually present. I go along with Michael and Kat to a client meeting where, flatteringly, people shake my hand, probably mistaking me for someone important.

My last task of the day is to fix the X-box. I fail miserably and am sent home.

Tuesday

Michael sets me down with a pile of sheets containing a bunch of company values.

“Basically what we’ve done is taken their existing values and condense them into new ones that cover everything,” he informs me. “We just need someone who isn’t close to it to see if it adds up.” This sounds like me. I’m certainly not close. I don’t think I could be further from it.

My first impressions are that the industry is all about making people look good. However somewhat paradoxically, I notice that the people at Hunch seem much more interested in being authentic than in making themselves look good.

Example 1: Kat is teaching me how to enter new jobs on the database, when her cellphone rings.

“Not answering that, he’s a pain in the arse and he’s called three times today,” she says.

Not giving up, the caller then tries to get hold of her through Michael. He picks up and looks over at Kat who is making the frantic head-shaking-cut-throat gestures one typically makes when one doesn’t want to speak to the person on the line.

Instead of “Oh…she’s actually out at the moment…I’ll tell her you called,” Michael informs Kat it’s the binder guy who is really keen to sell us a binder. He turns back to the phone, “Sorry, Kat’s doing something right now, and you’re actually lower down her list of priorities.” Such frankness astounds me, especially as he somehow manages to say this without sounding like an asshole. I make a mental note to try this at home.

Example 2: A new job comes in and Michael says, “Who wants to work with so-n-so?”

“I don’t want to work with anyone else right now, actually,” Kat responds matter-of-factly. Michael comes over and gives her a hi-five. Apparently this is because of an earlier conversation about knowing your limitations and not taking on too much work. It all seems a little odd to me.

Wednesday

Today Matt introduces me to the world of clever and witty print advertisements. I stare at a lube ad for about five minutes, trying to figure out why everyone else is crumpled in hysterics. It has to be painfully spelled out before I finally understand.

Now that it’s day three (and I’m not in such a state of rabbit-caught-in-headlights panic) I start to get over myself and examine the nature of my surroundings. Generally, I am very impressed with the workplace vibe. There are regular bouts of laughter, eating of chocolate, and cups of teas made quarter-hourly. I get the sense that people turn up to work here primarily because they want to. I also get the sense that this is quite unique.

In other news I get given $30 to go to the supermarket to buy teabags and a specific fancy type of washing powder. I only get 60c change.

Thursday

Today I get to have a bash at writing. After trying out more than seven variations, I am left amazed at how many different ways you can say (what I still think is) the same thing.

Later in the day I notice toys are being thrown out of the pram, the details of which I don’t quite catch. As tension builds I think it best to sink into my chair. When Michael gets off the phone he says:

“You see, Emily, as a company you have to stick by your values. A principle isn’t worth anything unless it costs you something. Sometimes that bites you in the arse. Bottom line, we do our best, but if it’s all too hard, sometimes it’s better not to bother.” I have no adequate response.

Friday

It’s the end of the week, and I realise that since Monday, a lot of productive stuff has been happening around me. I’ve witnessed several projects evolve from their early thinking stages through to presentation to the client. Amongst all the banter, laughter, chocolate-eating and tea-drinking, these people actually get shit done. Like, a lot of shit. The key seems to be clear and straight communication, but also knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and supporting one another to get their respective tasks done.

Before I leave Michael asks me, “Do you think you might want to work in an advertising agency?”

I don’t give a straight answer. I’m not prepared to think seriously about it just yet. I’ll go back to the unreality of my student life and bury my head in the sand for a bit longer. I may still not fully understand how to function in the real world, but Hunch has certainly given me a clear sense of how the real world should function. Cheers guys.

Michael Goldthorpe