In some ways, I can’t believe that I’ve already been working for six weeks. In other ways, it seems like I’ve been in the office for so much longer!
Things have been going great and I haven’t burned the office down yet (ha!), so I thought what better way to recap my first few weeks than a reflection on what I’ve learned so far! Without further ado…
1. It takes time. Oh my gosh, this means so much more than you’d think. It takes time to learn everyone’s names. It takes time to develop a routine. It takes time to get into the swing of things. One thing that I have to keep reminding myself is that this isn’t some internship that will end in 8 more weeks – this is a position that I’m going to be in for far longer than a semester. You can’t expect to learn everything you need to do for the rest of forever in just the span of a week or two. That’s impossible. Be patient with yourself and remember that it can take upwards of 6 months to establish a routine in a new job.
2. Immerse yourself in the company culture. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be anything or anyone you’re not, but it is important to adapt to the general flow – you don’t want to be out of sync! This might mean making note of general priorities (deadline-driven or mission-driven? business casual dress or suit + tie dress? email communication or in-person?). Be sure to take part in company traditions (at my office, we have Bagel Thursdays and Happy Hour Fridays). The easiest way to adapt is to be observant, build rapport, and break that ice.
3. Ask questions, listen, and learn. If you’re going to make mistakes in your job, it’s going happen during those first few weeks for sure. The best way to learn is to always listen, ask when things are unclear, and learn from past mistakes so they don’t happen in the future. Another important thing is to be receptive to constructive criticism and listen to instruction with open ears. Even if you know how to do something from a previous job or internship (even if you’ve been doing something for years!), you never know the what your current company’s process may be.
4. Set goals. Whether personal goals or goals you set with your boss, it’s important to always aim higher. I recently earned my Google AdWords certification – something that was both a personal and work-related goal. Because both my manager and I are thinking ahead, I’m aiming to have more SEM and analytics certification completed in the next few months. But your goal doesn’t have to be this clear-cut. It could be as simple as always setting the following week’s priorities at the end of the day on Fridays. Whatever works to keep you moving forward in your job and professional path, stick with it!
5. Stay positive. Thankfully, I have and continue to receive recognition for the work put in and progress made over the past few weeks since I started. However, I’m sure some employers don’t necessarily do this. If you don’t feel that you get enough praise, acknowledgment, or even a “thanks” for your hard work, just know that you’re doing the best you can and (hopefully!) going the extra mile. Even if you’re not being acknowledged, your work is making an impact that I’m sure your boss notices.
6. Make time for you. Just because you started working for the first time or transitioned to a new job doesn’t mean that you can’t make time for yourself. It’s not selfish – it’s necessary. You know how flight attendants always say to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. If you’re not getting enough sleep or rest, it will affect your work. If you’re falling out of touch with friends, your happiness will be affected. Try to make time to do one thing for yourself each day of the week. Some things I like to do are read a book during my commute or before I go to bed, take a bubble bath, or watch a movie – and I make sure to do this on weeknights so that I feel like I’m doing more than just working all day long! If you don’t have time at night or just feel too drained to do any of the things I just mentioned, then sometimes a brisk walk around the block during your work day can make a huge difference (just make sure to get away from your desk throughout the day!).
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Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to share my tips for job hunting, acclimating to new office culture and environment, and making the transition from being a full-time student to a full-time employee. Hopefully my experiences will help make your own process simpler (or refresh your flow if you’ve been in the workforce for a while).