The thought of starting a new job is almost always exciting. For me, it’s like the first day of school. There’s the thrill of wearing the new clothes you just bought. The hope of making new friends. A fresh routine to add some excitement to your life.
Of course, the first few months of a new job rarely are as great as we hoped. Your new clothes might not fit properly. Making new friends can be tough. Your boss might be difficult to connect with. The commute (which you thought wouldn’t be too terrible, even though you knew it included a trip down 405 at rush hour) is downright awful.
After freelancing for almost five years, I dived back into the 9-to-5 life a few months ago. I experienced the very real struggle of finding my place in a thriving company and within a department that had zero new hires in over two years.
One of the best things I did for myself was ask colleagues to lunch or coffee to get to know them both personally and professionally. Though I’ve been writing about and working with tech companies for several years, getting to know my new company — and the people who make it run — just can’t be done during weekly inter-department meetings.
It’s at these lunches where I’ve made early connections that help open the door to real relationships, which are beneficial both professionally (hello, special favors!) and personally (hello, new friends!).
Caleb Thompson recently started a new job as well, his being in Redmond as the marketing and community manager at Tagboard. For Thompson, starting this new job was especially difficult because there were many simultaneous life transitions he had to make.
“I moved the weekend before starting, and it took a few weeks to get everything unpacked,” Thompson said. “Transitioning to a new job is difficult enough on its own, but moving and figuring out a new commute made it a bit crazier.”
Another challenge of starting his job, Thompson said, was that “going into the job, I knew that my responsibilities and job description would be fluid. That’s just the way it is when you work in a startup environment.”
Corporate employees may have a solid job description going into a new position, but Thompson said that many Eastside employees who accept new jobs end up doing something other than what they signed up for. While this isn’t usually nerve-wracking, it potentially can cause some grief during the first few weeks as you realize you aren’t doing what you had hoped … or worse, what you’re doing is taking you far off your career track.
“I wish I would have done more research into the commute,” Thompson said. “The road work on 85th from Kirkland to Redmond is brutal right now.”
In our region, many of those looking for a new job do have the luxury of choosing the area in which they work — I chose a company just a few blocks from my new apartment, for example. If the thought of driving hours every week to and from a new job makes you nauseated, the chances of you hating your job because of a long commute are pretty high.
If you’ve otherwise chosen a great job with a reasonable commute that meets your expectations, take some time to figure out the culture, connect with your colleagues, and — my favorite piece of advice — keep your mouth closed. You may have been hired for your big ideas (especially in a management position), but if you barge in and step on everyone’s toes, you’ll likely make more enemies than friends — and it’ll happen fast.
As I’ve learned, listen to others’ ideas, pain points, and frustrations, then suggest ways to improve the business. You’ll earn more respect, and likely make friends in the process.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone to lunch to get to know what he or she thinks. If asking a manager to lunch during the first few weeks at your job gives you the same feeling that you got asking a cute guy or girl out on a date during the first weeks of school, you know you’re on the right track.