Image by philliecasablanca via Flickr
I started a new job last Monday – but it feels like I’m on a memory crash course rather than surviving it. I’m now working at an animal charity, which I used to work at years ago.
I guess going back to work somewhere that you worked previously is much less daunting because to a certain extent you know what to expect, know the organisation and understand the office culture. But I also realised that a lot has changed since I left about three years ago so I still had a lot to learn.
My first day was rather surreal as I am sitting back in my old desk and there are even some of my old things still there! I’m sitting with the same original people and the team is very similar.
But I’ve realised that there’s a lot I’d actually forgotten and so I have a lot to learn again about the charity – as well as my new role and what is expected at me.
Despite returning to familiar faces, there are still the same hurdles to jump in the beginning of any new job.
What to wear?
This is a tricky one because your only experience of the company or organisation so far is probably from your interview – when your interviewers may well be dressed more smartly than on a normal day. Did you say any other employees on the day though? What were they wearing?
Failing that, you could have a look on their website or some companies share staff pictures on their Facebook page. These should give you a good idea of the typical work wear worn by staff and a bit more about the company culture.
It’s a learning experience
There really is so much to learn in the start of a new job. And that isn’t just for the first week. I really think it can take months for some things to really set in. You’ll likely have inductions with people in your team or across various departments or company areas, and it’s difficult to take everything in when you’re being fed so much information. But your fellow colleagues will know this and should be patient with you.
You’ll be bloody tired
On the learning note, you’ll be really tired out in the first week or so! In my first week, I could barely keep my eyes open past about 8pm. For me, I think the biggest change that was tiring me out is driving to work. I live in Brighton and my last job was based in the city centre so I had a short walk to the office. Now I drive to work (albeit it is a lovely drive) but as I’m not used to the commute, it made me really sleepy.
There are friends to be made
One of the great things about working somewhere new is the opportunities to make new friends that it brings. I’ve already been scoping out my colleagues, wondering who I could be friends with and when I get a bit more settled I’ll look for windows to meet them for lunch or get chatty with them.
Figure out the lunch culture
Similar to the clothing query – it may not be immediately obvious what the lunch culture is like? Does everyone take their full hour and eat out for lunch? Or do they eat on the go, shovelling their packed lunches into their mouths while sitting at their desks? Every work place is different.
In Brighton I used to take a packed lunch when I could and then go for a wander for the remainder of my break. But with so many food choices nearby I inevitably was lazy and bought out. Now I’m working somewhere a little more remote, I’m more likely to take in a packed lunch. I don’t know why more people don’t do it, you save so much money!
Ask lots of questions, but take notes
It’s definitely ok to ask the most simple of questions to make sure you’re doing everything correctly, and in the way that your boss would prefer you do it. It’s not so ok to ask they same questions 12 months down the line, so make sure you write everything down to refer back to in the future.
Mistakes are ok
Try not to worry about getting everything done first time. You learn from your mistakes.
I now almost feel like I never left the charity now, which is really lovely – and it’s great to catch up with people who are still working there, yet I am also reminding people to treat me as though I’m completely new. But it won’t be long before it all slots into place!