6 Ways to Stay Sane in a New Job

September 1, 2015

[getty/ juanma garcia]
[getty/ juanma garcia]

You did it! After months of job searching — and being stressed— you finally landed that dream job you’ve been working toward. Cue the celebration!

But, somewhere between the (well-deserved) happy dance and picking out your day-one outfit, you realize something: You’re terrified. Terrified of getting along with new co-workers. Terrified of what you don’t know. And, of course, terrified of new career terrain.

Don’t worry. First-day, or even first-month, jitters are normal. As long as you have a set plan in place to stay sane during your new gig, you’ll come out on top and, one day, you’ll laugh at how nervous you were when you started.

1. Research company culture before your first day.

I’m not talking about the research you did to prep for the job interview. Sure, that’s helpful, but now that you have the job,  peek inside and find out how the company operates.

Look on Facebook to see how employees dress, if they take new employees out for lunch on the first day and how they engage with each other in general. Getting to know these social cues prior to day one can put you at ease.

2. Ask questions.

When you start a new job, you won’t know everything about your clients, the media and your company. It isn’t possible, so accept that now.

But you will have a great resource to help you learn that professional knowledge quickly: your co-workers. Find a few colleagues you trust and get along with, and ask your work-related questions to limit your mistakes and enhance your knowledge.

Now, if the answer is obvious or readily available on Google, then don’t ask them. Do your research. But if it’s a specific question for a particular client, then don’t take the risk — just ask.

3. Find ways to add value early on.

Sure, you’re still learning the ins and outs of your new gig, but that’s not an excuse to coast until you’re settled.

From day one, find ways to incorporate your experience to benefit the team. It could be something as small as sharing a favorite social media shortcut, or something as large as a different viewpoint on measurement. While you shouldn’t expect to change things right away, adding a new perspective will benefit your co-workers, and it can help you feel confident in your abilities.

4. Set mini goals along the way.

Were you a straight-A college student? Were you a rock star at your old job? Then you’re probably used to getting praised for your work. Don’t expect this at your new job.

Your goal during the onboarding process is to stay afloat until you’re up to speed. So to stay positive, set small, incremental goals for yourself, such as “make a new media contact” or “organize the budget.”

You can’t win at everything from the get-go, but recognizing — and personally celebrating — your wins can keep you upbeat as you work toward that superstar status.

5. Do your homework in order to onboard quickly.

Now, I don’t condone bringing work home regularly, but when you’re in the early stages of your new job, it’s a great way to speed up the onboarding process.

During your first weeks, you’ll be in meeting after meeting to learn from your co-workers. This leaves little time for diving into the server and reading current and past plans, recaps and other documents that give you the full company history and background.

So if you want to move from onboarding to implementing quickly, then print out those plans and recaps and reserve time for light reading before bed.

6. Talk to your peers.

When you’re stressed out or nervous, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. Ask your family, friends or PRSA Chapter peers about their first months on the job to see what issues they faced, how long it took them to get up to speed and how they got close with co-workers.

While deep down you know that your new-job nerves are normal, it’s nice to actually hear it from someone you know and trust.

Is a new job nerve-racking? Of course. But remember that the company chose you over dozens — or hundreds — of other applicants because of your smarts and skills, so don’t let nervousness or your newness keep you from being the successful PR pro that you were hired to be.

Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a content marketer and journalist in the New York City area. She’s the founder of Stephanie Vermillion Studio, and you can follow her work at @StephanieVermillionStudio on Instagram.


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