There’s nothing like the first day of a new job! Sigh…You’re eager & anxious. You’re not quite sure what to expect, but you’re open to the possibilities.
Last week, I started a new internship, which, for all intents and purposes, is basically the same thing. My internship is at Princeton working on a project for diversity programming during orientation. Starting this job was especially exciting for me because I will be working with my former boss (from when I was a lowly college student at the University of Virginia). I attended a breakfast meeting with a bunch of professionals who are planning a diversity conference at Princeton. While it is a little intimidating and nerve-wracking to just dive right into this type of meeting, it’s something that you and I will have to do sometime sooner than we think.
Starting a new job or internship is not supposed to be a comfortable thing. Change inherently breeds feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and stress. But, there are ways to make the transition smoother and get the most out of your experience.
Make Small Talk: Be sure to partake in professional chit-chat with your new co-workers/supervisors. There’s nothing more awkward than prolonged silence while walking to your lunch meeting or standing at the copier. To avoid falling into the trap of awkward silence, here are some basic conversation points:
- professional/career background
- current issues involving the company/organization/institution (i.e. state budget cuts, capital campaigns, new administration, etc.)
- the weather (always a good conversation starter…)
Mind the Company You Keep: Remember how you’re parents taught you to choose your friends wisely? Well, that piece of advice still stands. It’s vital to let relationships grow over time. Avoid over-sharing or over-confiding until you really know who you can trust. Always be very aware of the information you’re sharing.
Be a Detective: Take the time to sit back and observe your surroundings very carefully. Try to figure out who is close to whom, and similarly, who stays an arm’s length from whom. It’s really important to start understanding the social and political layout of your workplace. Listen to the conversations, and decipher the hot button issues that are on people’s minds.
Introduce Yourself To EVERYONE: No one is unimportant. From the President to the Administrative Assistant, get your name out their with a firm handshake and a friendly smile. Let’s face it. It’s not really fun being referred to as that new hire, so try to end that reputation a.s.a.p.
Just Ask: As an intern or new hire, be proactive in creating your opportunities! If there’s a particular project or task that you’d like to contribute to, then just ask to be part of it. You’ll impress your superiors by taking initiative, and you’ll carve out the experiences that will help build your career.
Keep an Open Mind: This may seem obvious, but it’s really important to be open to new ideas and change from what you’reaccustomed to. Each organization has it’s own processes, structures, and traditions. It’s likely that your new place of work does not operate quite like your former one, so it’s critical that you take it all and avoid saying, that’s not how we do it at my old organization. Unless you’re asked, it’s likely that no one wants to hear it.
Get Face Time with Your Supervisor: Whether or not you will have formal one-on-one meetings with your supervisor, it’s important that you ask to meet as soon as possible in order to clarify expectations for the job, identify key players in the organization that you should meet, and what tips/tricks he or she has for you as you navigate your new position.
Have Patience: I know it’s frustrating, but you’re not going to know everything right away. It takes time to get to know the faces, places, and spaces of your new workplace. Give yourself an opportunities to make mistakes. Ask plenty of questions, but don’t pressure yourself to have all the answers.
Check out this short clip for more tips on starting fresh:
Enjoy the Journey