Reflecting on Handshake Support Week 2020

After organizing our annual support event, Jordan Pedraza reflects on takeaways from this year's festivities.

Handshake’s Support Week 2020 took place in early December. Each year, our Global Support organization celebrates this week, during which the entire team participates in different activities to foster team-building, reflecting, and learning. Ahead, the organizer—Handshake’s Director of Global Support, Trust & Safety, and Documentation, Jordan Pedraza—shares goals, reflections, and takeaways from this incredible event.

Why do you think this week is so important?

In the earlier years we’d fly out the entire Support department to our San Francisco office to get to know each other, the rest of the company, and plan for the next year. We’ve found it’s a magical and powerful way to build a foundation of trust and sense of community for the team, especially because it’s distributed across the globe. But beyond team-building and company connection, we’re on a mission to redefine what Support means, looks like, and its impact. Support Week is a space to lay out a vision for ourselves, the company, and our community.

What are some of the activities that take place during Support week?

The main themes for Support Week are always around reflecting, learning, and most importantly, fun. We kick off of the week with a competitive scavenger hunt, daily lunches, went camping, and had a festive holiday party. At the end, we wrapped the week reflecting on 2020, celebrating our achievements, and discussed our vision, strategy, and plans for the next three years. We also had daily ticket shadowing parties where we’d have breakout groups watching other specialists take and talk through how to help schools, students, and employers. 

In addition to the games and fun, we held a few sessions throughout the week:

  • Matt Huggins, our UK Support Specialist, did a fireside chat discussing what we’ve learned in building Global Support across the pond and lessons learned
  • Molly Johnson, our Senior Product Manager, shared tips and advice on how to work with product and engineering teams effectively
  • Zoe Bridges and Alan Yiu, Support and Product leaders from Airtable, met with our Global Support leadership team to discuss best practices in support tools, systems, and leveraging insights for product development
  • Desiree Sugnet, Kenney Cunanan, Elliot Park, Reed Rawlings, Nathaniel Thompson, and Izzy Miller from Looker participated in a Support Alumni panel discussing strategies around leveraging support skills for careers in product, engineering, success, and more

We’re so grateful for everyone that contributed to these sessions and brought great insights to life. Support intersects all functions of a company, it truly takes a village, and there’s something for everyone to learn and share!

What is the favorite activity that you participated in during the week?

This is really tough to pick! It seemed there was something for everyone and folks said they were inspired by our retro/vision session and musical background, gained great perspective from the Looker Support Alumni panel, learned useful nuggets about our product and troubleshooting tactics in shadowing parties, but also had fun at our Tiny Campfire and Holiday Party. What stands out most is having a variety of sessions that allow us to get to know each other in a relaxed, fun setting and getting internal and external perspectives on creating a great customer experience and career.

If your team takes one thing away from this week, what do you hope it is?

Support is a platform—not only as a company’s frontline to its customers and users and advocate for their voices, but also for your career. Support allows you to deeply learn and understand a product, its users, and everything in between. No matter where you go in Support, at a company, or anywhere else in your career, lean into nailing customer service as that will translate into unlimited possibilities and making a real difference!