As we all know, new jobs can be scary. It is a lot of change and learning which can be very overwhelming. Currently, I am experiencing this change first hand, with my transition from an inpatient (hospital) setting to an outpatient (clinic or doctor office setting)*. As a result, I wanted to talk about how to transition into a new job and what you can expect during this process using some of my own firsthand experience.
I have worked in many settings and switched jobs numerous times since I was 16 years old. I have done service positions (barista, server, spa receptionist), I have dabbled in law (intern for a law firm), business companies (I have my Bachelors in Business Administration with an emphasis on Management, assistant in a corporate setting), and I have worked in four different hospitals (nurses aid and RN). As a result, I definitely know how difficult these transitions may be and wanted to share some of my biggest insights on a transition we will all experience (at least four times in just our 20s).
So…you are starting a new job (this can also work if it’s your first time in the workforce). Regardless of your reasoning behind your job choice, new jobs are sort of like roller coaster rides where you want to keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times, grab on tight, plan on screaming, and know there are going to be A LOT of ups and downs (for my new grad nurses, there is a special blog post just for you on this topic coming soon).
The first couple of weeks, don’t expect much. You are typically super excited for the beginning of a new adventure and will most likely be in a lot of training, have paperwork to fill out, and/or may be doing a company wide orientation, etc. During this time, your biggest concern is where to park and what food is closest to you (at least those are mine haha). After week one or two, reality begins to set in, so let’s discuss some of the possible hurdles (not necessarily in priority order)…
Hurdle 1: Getting to know your peers. One of my biggest focuses when I begin a new job is getting to know my peers. I like to gage who has the experience, a little bit about their background, their work history, and their role within the company and how it relates to me. This not only helps to determine who might be good resources, but also with who I need to make sure I behave in front of, who my confidants may become, and who I really want to network with. Your career is not going to be linear and it is crucial to get to know those around you because they are ALL resources. Even the girl or guy you start with is a resource because we all have experiences. Get to know them, take personalities with a grain of salt (some people are just grumpy), and value each and every one of them.
- Tip 1: Keep a piece of paper in your pocket and write down EVERY name you encounter, this helps for later when you see a familiar face, but can’t remember their name and can do a quick once over of your list.
- Tip 2: Not everyone is going to be over the moon you are there. A lot of companies and departments have high turnover and for some employees that have been in a specific place for a while, they meet a lot of people who don’t stay. Don’t worry about that. Get to know them, value their knowledge NO MATTER THEIR AGE (I learned this the hard way), and also be respectful.
- Tip 3: Unless someone is directly affecting you or your work, play nicely. These are your peers and their opinion on you does matter. I try to get a long with everyone because you never know when you may encounter them again and you never know what is being said behind your back. Besides, aint’ nobody got time for drama and if they did, what does it matter!
Hurdle 2: Learning the content. This is a big one. A lot of times when we start new careers, we are bright eyed and bushy tailed out of college with the idea in our heads that we know it all. Well, if you have been in the workforce, you know that college really does nothing for you when it comes to the real world (sorry). As you begin your new job, you will go through phases: Phase 1 – excitement, Phase 2 – holy s***, I know nothing, Phase 3 – okay I’m getting the hang of this, Phase 4 – off of orientation and another holy s*** moment, and Phase 5 – I got this. These are normal phases and everyone experiences them. The amount of time spent in them varies on the type of job, your personality, and your training. I promise you though, everyone goes through it.
- Tip 1: Recognize that this is normal. The longer you resist it, the more overwhelming it will be and the more likely you will be stuck in Phase 2.
- Tip 2: Address your feelings. Talk with your preceptor (the person training you), your manager, friends, and family. We have all been there, so getting an outside opinion can be super helpful.
Hurdle 3: Wanting it to be like your old job. A lot of times when we start something new (unless of course we have zero work experience, which, congratulations and welcome) we typically take something that is similar to our last job. For example, you are in HR and work for the HR department at Macys, but get a new job at Nordstrom in their HR department. Similar position, similar job title, but VERY different work experience. My point? When we switch jobs, a lot of times we expect our new job to be similar to our old one and when it isn’t we get frustrated. Typically, the frustration is surrounded by things that the new company/department/unit does badly, instead of focusing on what it does well and why we decided to switch in the first place.
- Tip 1: Expectation is the mother of frustration. Expecting that your new job is going to be exactly like your old one, is only going to set you up for failure. Go in with zero expectations, an open mind, and the understanding that it is going to be different. In doing this, you will not only be less frustrated, but you will also be a better learner because your mind is more open.
- Tip 2: Referencing how your last job did it, is not the best idea. Every company has the opportunity for growth, but pointing out all of the negative aspects is going to make you and your new teammates frustrated. Take note of where there is room for improvement and store it for later, because then, when it is time to join a committee or improvement project, you have ideas on opportunities for growth that will most likely be successful because you have seen them being doing before. This in turn makes you look good and everyone else happy because you made their lives easier.
Hurdle 4: Lots of information. Any time you start a new job, there is a TON to learn. Try not to get too overwhelmed with it all, and acknowledge your rookie status. Experience and time will only make you more and more comfortable. Value the learning process and appreciate the opportunity to learn something new.
- Tip 1: Work outside of work. Don’t be afraid to purchase books, sign up for organizations, and review notes that help to reinforce material. I think it is very valuable to recognize that a career is a constant learning process. Continue to learn and grow, even after you get more comfortable, but especially during orientation. It is crucial to review content discussed during the day, take notes on important topics, and be on your A game during these first few months of starting a job. This will not only make your orientation easier, but it will also make you look very good to your teammates that are going to soon be working with you.
Hurdle 5: What if I don’t like it? So you are about a week in (the unknown is setting in) and you tell yourself that you just aren’t sure whether or not this is for you. It is okay. We have all been there and it is normal. It is new, scary, uncomfortable, and just plain stressful. The reality is, a job is a job and A JOB is EXPERIENCE. Every time you move positions, you are gaining a little more knowledge. And every time you take a job, there are going to be good days and bad. Would it be great to be following our dream (ughhum blogging), of course, but even doing something we love can have good and bad days. Recognize the value in your experience and give it time.
- Tip 1: Give it time. It takes anywhere from 6-8 months to really find out if you like a job. I know this timeline well because I have experienced it first hand. After a year, if you still feel like this isn’t the place for you, move on.
- Tip 2: Every job we take allows for a learning opportunity. You become that much stronger with each experience, so take pride in knowing that regardless what happens, you gained some valuable knowledge.
- Tip 3: Do the pros outweigh the cons? Any time I feel like I may be in a wrong fit, I look at my pros and cons. What am I really annoyed about? Is it actually the job, or is just the transitioning (because that does suck). Or perhaps, you are experiencing difficulties in other areas of your life? Do some soul-searching here, then outweigh the pros and cons, taking note whether the cons are associated directly with where you work, the company you work for, or perhaps even the state. Breaking it down this way helps you to get really clear on where the problems lie, if they can be fixed, and become a great reference for when looking elsewhere.
I think that covers some of the biggest hurdles experienced and I would love to hear whether or not this helps you in your career transitions. I know it can be hard going through change, but by keeping these things in mind, I think you will have a much more seamless transition.
*For those of you that may be new to TCD, my background is a Cardiac Intensive Care Nurse. I am certified in Critical Care and have been working in intensive care units for the past four years, up until now with my new role being ENTIRELY opposite from ICU. I am now in an outpatient setting, meaning it is more like a clinic or doctor’s office, versus a hospital setting, or what healthcare professionals refer to as “inpatient.” I am also doing a lot more computer work and sitting versus hands on with patients. If you are more interested in why I chose to switch and more background on my career path, check out this post here.