It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since I started at Altus Assessments. This year flew by, especially in contrast to some of the year-iversaries I’ve had in the past. It seems like just yesterday I had to hold myself back from skipping (as an adult) down University Ave in downtown Toronto to the offices on Front St. I was full of giddiness knowing that something great was coming in this new chapter. The first few days were filled with meeting the team, which at the time was about 40 people. I pride myself in remember names, so I worked really hard those first few days to remember names and faces, while learning about Casper, and what Altus offers the admissions community. Lots of 1:1s, meeting almost everyone on the team, focused on learning about them as people, instead of their job functions.
Everyone at Altus, and I mean everyone, is caring. It’s one of our culture pillars, and the team has done a good job to leading with them: being caring, curious and driven. We work hard at Altus, and there are definitely some less ideal/dark days, but the core team remains driven by this pillars: we care about each other, our applicants, our partners and our community while being curious and driven by new processes, solutions and assessments to help create a world served by exceptional professionals. And that all starts with the *amazing* team at Altus.
The Marketing team, where I work, started as 4, and hopefully we will welcome our 8th team member by the end of the year. And believe me when I say, this is the best Marketing team I’ve ever worked with. We’re a group of insanely talents, motivated and collaborative humans, who lean on each other when we need help, and who have very little ego. And what surprises people the most, is that we’re made up of almost all women. Women who don’t tear each other down, and who celebrate successes. It’s refreshing, and in stark contrast to where I’ve been.
Because, jobs like this are rare, and it takes time to find them. And some of my other jobs and workplaces have no felt like this. They’ve been toxic, manipulative and outright sexist, especially in the tech industry. Months can feel like years, one year at a toxic company can feel like 100. Believe me, I’ve cried and struggled to make it a year in a negative work environment and it feels like you’re herding cats in an open field- like you’re never going to make it. Bosses belittle you, or worse — take your ideas and work as their own. Founders and CEOs spend more time crawling your LinkedIn activity than creating a vision, or micromanage your every step. The amount of times I’ve been told “you’re at 98% but I want that 2% or it’s not good enough”, or spoken to about leaving “early” after a 12-hour day, would astound you. I’ve also been in positions where other women actively tear each other down, or sabotage each other to get ahead, say the most cruel and calculated things, like “it’s a good thing you have an MBA, otherwise you’re just a pretty young thing” (real statement from an ED). Some jobs are a challenging, uphill climb.
All of that to say, that sometimes, the grass is greener on the other side, because the bad days at Altus pale in comparison to some of the days at other companies, and on other teams. I am here to tell you, that if you’re in a toxic workplace, or team— whatever it might be: you deserve better. So, make a plan, do what you can, lean on your trusted network, and get out the moment an opportunity presents itself. Never ever, for one second, think that you deserve 14-hour days, belittling comments, your skills constantly questioned, and your growth stunted in order for other people to feel ok. There are teams and bosses out there who value you for your experiences, your can-do attitude, and your people skills. I hope my one-year at Altus inspires someone else in a toxic workplace to know that there is greener grass, and you have a right to it.
So as I think about the 365 days that have past, I am aware there have been issues, and struggles. Not all green grass is the same shade. I am so thankful for my boss, my core team, and the Altus team as a whole, for pushing me to be better, and challenging me in new and exciting ways. It’s rare to find a year like this one, and I am so grateful to my network, and my people — for getting me through the “dark years” and into this role. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of years hold!
Don’t settle for dry, dead grass.