I’ve been at Mitratech for four years now and one thing I’ve learned is that you need to strive for continuous growth. Being in HR, my main focus while attending SXSW Interactive 2016 was the “Work and Career” track sessions. I used my adventure as a way to increase my professional knowledge and implement these fresh ideas to benefit the people of Mitratech. I had no idea how much walking would be involved in my pursuit of the SXSW experience.
Day 1, March 11: 17,751 steps
A first-timer at SXSW Interactive, I was overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge I could absorb over the course of the festival. There were so many things to see and do. I quickly realized that it is a marathon and not a sprint.
The most notable session I attended on day one was, “Amazing Talent is Grown, Not Born. Learn How.” The main takeaways were: sometimes we rely too heavily on technology to grow talent, too much freedom is a bad thing, and there need to be environments where there is some uncertainty because they create moments of learning. Throughout the session, I realized that Mitratech already does a lot of the things they were advising.
Day 2, March 12: 17,617 steps
Unlike the session-heavy day before, I was able to take this day to freely explore. I got to see the stars of Broad City, attend a Comedy Central taping, and wait in line for Jake Gyllenhaal before accepting the fact that the room wouldn’t fit the 500 people in front of me. I then took the extra Gyllenhaal time to find free stuff.
My favorite session this day was, “The End of the Work-More Culture.” The main takeaway: notions that some find to be completely ridiculous such as the 4-day work week or the 30-hour work week. At Mitratech, we don’t have a shortened work-week, but we offer our employees oPTO (Open Paid Time Off). This allows the people of Mitratech to achieve a better work-life balance without feeling limited by a fixed amount of vacation days.
Day 3, March 13: 12,176 steps
While I missed my last opportunity to see Grumpy Cat, I was able to ride a Ferris wheel for the very first time. Acrophobia aside, I was able to enjoy it.
On this day, I attended several sessions focused on working with Millennials. As a Millennial, I was fully prepared to roll my eyes as I was berated for being a part of a self-entitled generation. Surprisingly, these sessions were more focused on how difficult it is to get in the swing of things when you go from an environment where you are encouraged to speak out (college) to one where you do not know enough to do so. This related to Mitratech’s core value of transparency, and how we encourage open communication and sharing of ideas. It’s an empowering environment to young people entering the workforce.
Day 4, March 14: 20,672 steps
There was free stuff galore on this day! I became the proud owner of 5 shirts, a backpack full of Italian sweets, and much more. I was swimmin’ in swag.
I attended a session about what successful people do before breakfast. In a nutshell, mornings are best for getting things done because they are highly regimented, have fewer emergencies, and allow for better willpower. With that being said, Mitratech isn’t strict about work times, but those who work early in the morning may be benefiting from their choice to do so.
Day 5, March 15: 5,617 steps
By this point, I was exhausted and scheduled my sessions in the same area to minimize walking at all costs.
On my final day, I went to a session about work-life balance. As a company, we try to help people achieve this balance, but we aren’t always successful. In essence, this needs to be an organic process. Each individual works differently, and trying to force a healthy work-life balance upon employees will not be achieved by a one-size-fits-all approach.
Overall, SXSW Interactive was an amazing 73,833 step experience and I’m very grateful for the opportunity because I learned much more than I thought I would.