I started my first “real” job out of graduate school about three weeks ago and am excited to report that it’s been about as smooth a transition as I could have hoped for. The one thing I did not expect, however, was how much down time I’d have. In the first two weeks alone, I spent countless hours hoping and praying that I would receive an email with instructions on what to read, what to setup, or who to reach out to. It was the perfect storm of a start date: students had left campus, enrollment and orientation had not started, and my boss was taking a week of vacation time. The last thing I wanted was to seem unproductive or lazy but I truly did not know where to begin. I don’t pretend to be the MVP of New Hires but I do have some ideas about how to make the most out of your first month or so in a new job — even if you don’t have access to your email yet.
Take the Initiative – to learn, read, study, ask questions. Likely, your new supervisor or office staff will have some training and orientation plan in place for you as a new hire. But they still have full time jobs, too; they can’t take a month to hold your hand through steps like logging into your email, signing HR paperwork, and setting up voicemail. If you’re left to your own devices (no pun intended), work on setting things up by yourself – even if it requires a few phone calls to IT or the Help Desk. Furthermore, you’ll probably be trained on all of the important aspects of your position (working with students, planning events, etc) but taking the initiative to read through the office or institution’s website thoroughly will allow you to ask more informed questions during these subsequent trainings. It took me at least a week to peruse the entire office website, staff shared drive, and university website(s), but at least I know who to call or meet with if I need something and I better understand the way we serve students here. Taking the initiative might also look like lending a hand to anyone around the office, even if their project or task doesn’t necessarily fall within your job description. It’s a great way to meet people and to find out more about how the office functions as a whole.
Take Notes – ON EVERYTHING! You’ll be inundated with information as you learn about the office, the staff, and your role. Writing down notes the good old fashioned way with pen and paper allows you to go back and type them later for a second round of information storage and processing. I found that, when typing my hand-written notes, I was able to more clearly identify what I still had questions about and what had become clear over the course of the training or conversation. Additionally, you’ll then have an organized document full of on-boarding notes to share with your supervisor or other staff members; I can almost guarantee that they won’t turn this down!
Take a Coffee Break – with someone you’d like to get to know. Ideally, you’d make time to schedule a coffee or lunch “get to know you” date with everyone in the office. Luckily, at my new job, this was recommended to the new hires and everyone on the team was excited to get a coffee date on the calendar. Even if you work somewhere where this isn’t the norm, it’s a great way to briefly get to know your new coworkers and get a feel for the office culture in general. Plus, who doesn’t need a coffee break?!
Take a Walk – and meet with other people on campus. Just because you work in Academic Advising doesn’t mean that you won’t need to refer a student to the Counseling Center or to the Office of Student Activities and Involvement. Take advantage of the potential free time that comes along with being a new hire and make connections. This might resemble your in-office coffee dates or perhaps it’s more similar to a quick, informational interview. Either way, you’ll be glad to start associating names with faces so that you know who to email or call a few months down the road (plus you might make a new friend or two!).
Take Your Time – nobody expects that you’ll learn everything in the first week or even the first month on the job. In fact, they’d probably prefer that you take your time and learn the in’s and out’s of the office so that you can better contribute to the overall mission and vision. Be diligent and intentional but don’t rush the learning and adjusting process if you don’t have to. You’ll only be the new hire until that new position is approved so make the most of it and enjoy it! Now, take a few deep breaths and get back to reading that benefits packet…
What are your secrets for the first month in a new job? Let us know below!