Starting a new job? Things I keep in mind.
A new role. It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, and it’s such an incredible experience to begin again. I’ve had some interesting experiences in the past few years; jumping from internship to internship, starting a full-time job, moving to a new state, then moving cross-country, and just recently, staring right in the face of another First Day.
I should be used to this by now.
Smile. A lot! Let the nerves play out. You’ve earned this role, you’re worthy of this role, and you’re going to crush it. You’re also new, and it takes time to grow accustomed to change.
Introduce yourself — to everyone. More often than not, you’ll cross paths many times with the people physically around you, and it’s imperative to learn their names. You never know when you’ll be on the same project, stuck in a meeting room together, or having to introduce them to someone else.
GTKY is a thing. This is an acronym I’ve only recently learned. As a new hire or intern, you essentially have a free pass to ask as many questions you like to whoever you feel like asking, for a limited time. “Get To Know You” meetings are about asking others for coffee or lunch, and an approach to learning more about what others do. In your first few months, aim to meet with about 5 different people of various departments and backgrounds to gain their insight on how your workplace truly works.
Ask where you can help. There’s a strong chance you don’t know much in your first few days. Be a resource to others, and as you begin to explore your role and company, you’ll learn what your coworkers do as well. Think of ways to make their lives easier in tandem with yours; oftentimes, fresh eyes on old work can lead to some useful innovations or optimizations.
Put in the hours. When you first start a role, your focus should be to learn everything you possibly can about the role, the company, and what you’re going to be doing. It’s important to establish your schedule in your first few weeks (mainly to get the hang of things, but also so you don’t feel pressured if people around you schedule their lives differently).
Give yourself a break, at least for a little while. Being new is overwhelming, especially when you want to perform. You’re not expected to know every minute detail of your job as soon as you sign the offer, and you’re certainly not expected to know everything you’re doing in your first few days. Your skill and performance and excellence will come as you explore and learn and optimize your role, and you can only do this after giving yourself permission to be new, to learn, and to not know everything the moment you arrive.
Ask for help when you need it. If things aren’t making sense, or training isn’t going right, or you have questions that haven’t been answered, ask. Raising your hand feels like the dumbest move when you’re in a new role, but it’s crucial to get things right as soon as you realize you don’t understand — it’s certainly better than waiting any longer.
Research the “extracurriculars” at your company. Your main focus at work is to be the best at your job, hands down, but it always helps to join an employee resource group, outing, or event committee. It’s the easiest way to make friends over shared interests, work toward a cause or event that you love, and have a little fun while at work.
When you’re established, look for a mentor and sponsor. There are mentors (who give you advice, and coach you through the ups and downs), and there are sponsors (people who champion you, support you, and push you to new heights). Every relationship in the workplace has to work both ways - you provide value, and they provide value - and finding leaders you align with on personality and professional perspectives can change a lot about the way you work, and help you explore different avenues.
Lastly — respond to emails as you see them. This is important, and something that took me a while to grasp. I often replied to emails after I mulled over them for a few hours; thinking through all the possible ways to write what I wanted to share, and analyzing how my words could be interpreted. Write your email, check for grammatical or spelling errors, and send. So long as you’re respectful and getting the point across, no one cares.
These are my favorites. I want to hear more — what has worked for you?