August 14, 2019
Whether it is your first job straight out of college or you have been around the block a few times already, starting a new chapter brings its share of challenges.
I recently joined a new team at Transfix, a digital freight marketplace aiming to optimize the supply chain by reducing the number of empty miles driven.
Between the commute changes and other HR considerations, the adaptation can leave you filled with anxiety. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for what is ahead and navigate your first few weeks.
One of the golden rules, when you are switching jobs, is to allow yourself to take some time off before you embark on your next challenge. Leaving a company, or finishing school, can feel like a breakup, and, as such, you need to take time to reflect on your accomplishments and clear your head.
Taking a break from the routine will also help you catch up on the things you have been putting off. Now is the time to complete those projects you have been putting off: fix your home, read a book, take on a new hobby or reconnect with old friends.
After a break far from what were your daily concerns, you will feel refreshed and energized, ready to take on whatever is next.
At this point, you must have done a fair share of research to decide which step to take on next. Now that you made your choice, it is a good idea to dig a bit more and further your understanding of the industry.
Amongst other things, you should get familiar with the terminology, the competitors, and the tech stack you are about to work with (if applicable). Chances are the company will complete that picture during your on-boarding. Preparing some questions will also make this process much more enjoyable.
Finally, it is also a good practice to look into the background of your new colleagues. As an engineering manager, LinkedIn is my friend, and I use this tool to get to know my coworkers and study their career path. You will be surprised how much you can have in common with people you never met before!
As the adage goes, you only have one chance at making a first impression. Arriving late on your first day will not be the way you want to set the tone.
Make sure you confirm the office hours and what time you are expected on your first day (it is usually different than your day to day). Thankfully, the many mapping tools (Waze, Google Maps) can help you iron out all the details of your new commute.
Unfortunately, sometimes things can go awry on your way to work, so it is generally a good idea to plan to arrive 15-20 minutes in advance.
Today is the day, your first day at your new company! You have done your research, you are on time, full of energy from your break and plenty of questions you need answers too!
Despite the enthusiasm, it is essential to channel that energy and listen actively during the on-boarding presentation(s). This process is a unique opportunity to gather a complete picture of the company and size up the magnitude of the challenge at hand.
Even if the topic of discussion is not immediately relevant to you, make sure you pay attention. It helps to understand what problems your new coworkers are in charge of, and how you could impact them in the future.
Being the new addition on a team comes with a lot of responsibilities. On the one hand, people are eager to get you aboard so you can start contributing to the effort. On the other hand, you are bringing a lot of habits and personal preferences along with you. After all, your system brought you success and made you who you are now.
However, It is your responsibility to adapt to the team established processes and conventions. Everything is going to look somewhat foreign and, depending on your experience level, some workflows might seem sub-optimal.
Before you start advocating for changes, make sure to have a few discussion with the different managers, leads, and other contributors. Gathering this context will help you understand how decisions are made and will provide guidance for future suggestions. Regardless of how inefficient things might seem to you, you want to refrain from calling someone’s baby ugly.
Gathering context will help empathize the decisions made and understand which opportunities are yours to run with and which one will require more key stakeholders buy-in.
A new job is like a new school; you are going to need to make new friends and develop new bonds. In the first few weeks, your goal is mainly going to be to build genuine relationships. Since you have done your homework, you already have a few ice breaker up your sleeve. Striking a conversation around the water cooler should not be a problem.
At the very least, you need to grab some face-to-face time with each one of your team members and get to know one another. Most likely there will be some time set up for a team lunch or similar but, if that is not the case, don’t be shy and take your colleague out for a coffee break!
The influx of new information is going to be overwhelming, especially after the first few weeks. Be patient and let it all sink in. It is unlikely that you are expected to hit the ground running and be immediately productive.
Additionally, be patient with your team members as they get accustomed to you. Rome was not built in a day, and you are going to need to establish trust with your peers so the team can grow stronger with you aboard.
You are embarking on a marathon, not a sprint, so remember to enjoy the journey!
Hope these tips will be helpful for this exciting new chapter in your career. I would love to hear about your journey and other advice for new beginnings, so please reach out. All the best!
Written by Xavier Lozinguez who lives and works in New Jersey (sometimes) building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter