Make Friends with the Coffee Pot

Posted March 1, 2016 by swimcreative

…And Other Wise Words from a Perpetual New Girl

I moved to Duluth in July after living in Minneapolis for nine years. In those nine years, I’ve had 5 ½ agency and in-house jobs (The ½ because my job at Park Nicollet turned into my job at HealthPartners after the companies merged.) In that time, I’ve learned a few things about being the perpetual new girl.

Listen, observe & participate. Despite what you may have heard or read about the culture at your new job, you won’t really understand it until you’ve been in it for some time. The cool part is that you get to influence it. Agency culture isn’t shaped by an Instagram feed, it’s about the people who work there. If something strikes you as somewhat inefficient or just plain bizarre, ask someone about it — just try not to offend anyone. Don’t make it your goal to come in and change everything you don’t like…at least not all at once. But, once you get the hang of a new office, don’t be afraid to present new ideas. Even if your recommendations aren’t met with a round of applause or your coworkers hoisting you on their shoulders , someone might still tuck them away until they have more time to think about them.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Because it’s inevitable. Cut yourself some slack. Starting a new job is not easy. Doing new things and learning new skills is weird and scary. It’s also really exciting, and you can learn a lot about yourself in the process. Don’t worry, pretty soon you’ll be an old pro.

First impressions matter. Roll up your sleeves and dig in. Be ready to work really hard right away. If you’re only assigned to one small project at first, do an amazing job on it. Don’t be above a project, ever, but especially when you’re new. By the time the larger projects start to come your way, you’ll be well-versed on how to communicate with your coworkers and clients and have a pretty good idea of how things run so you can concentrate on making your work strong. When I was trying to get a job at Swim, I was also in the middle of planning my wedding and packing to move. I knew I wouldn’t be able to give it my all until after those things were over. We don’t always have the luxury of great timing when it comes to finding a new job, but if you can settle on a start date that sets you up for success, do it.

Be humble. Be humble. Be humble. And even after you’ve been there for 5 or 10 years, be humble. I could write a whole other post about this topic, it’s that important.

Get out of your shell.
The first week on the job, not only is there an overload of new information to keep track of but there are also so many new people to meet. Like most designers, I’m an introvert and I find the process of meeting new people completely exhausting. But I force myself to introduce myself to as many people as I can and strike up conversations, or at least passing small talk. Sometimes it doesn’t feel genuine to “pretend” to be extroverted…but like I said, first impressions matter. I’m not saying you have to be loud. Just don’t be too quiet. Ask someone to show you where the break room is, or the best highways to take to get to work in the morning. (Thankfully, this does not apply to Duluth!) Do they subscribe to the ‘whoever empties the coffee pot has to make more’ policy? As many of us know, some of our best, lasting friendships are made with people at work — because we spend so much time there every day (another blog post to come on that, too). The best friends you make might not even be from your own department.

I’m thankful that my coworkers and clients at Swim have been so welcoming and all-around awesome people and I’m hoping I don’t have to wear “The New Girl” badge again for a long time.

What are your best tips for being new on the job? Share them in the comments!

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