Being the new guy or girl around the office is always intimidating, but if you focus on learning quickly, you can shake off that newbie dust in no time. I learned this the hard way, keeping mostly quiet and observing at my first job. When I had the opportunity to be the “new girl” again at Obsidian, I made a conscious decision that I was going to go about it differently. And, I can confidently say it’s why I feel so comfortable in my role only two years in.
So, whether you are just starting an entry-level role or making that move soon, here’s my advice.
You don’t know what you don’t know
But you can change that. Start paying attention and taking notes as people around you are speaking. Research what they are talking about, or just flat out ask them! Trust me, it’s a lot easier to ask what something is or how to do it when you’ve only worked somewhere for two months as opposed to two years. Plus, this helps to grow your knowledge on pertinent topics and diversify your skill set. Remember, the more diversified your skill set is, the tougher you are to replace.
Don’t wait for people to hand it to you. Now, don’t go doing things you explicitly aren’t supposed to do. Instead, if there is a task or project that needs to be completed and you have the basic skill set to do it, ask to take it on. If you wait for others to come to you with projects you’ll probably end up not liking most of them and become pigeon-holed into doing a lot of repetitive work. Asking to own a project shows initiative, maturity and a desire to learn and grow. There’s also the bonus of winning brownie points if you take projects on that others don’t like to do. In those situations, everyone wins. J
Step up, speak up
Have you ever worked with someone and sometimes think to yourself, “Some days, I forget Sally even works here.” You don’t want to be Sally. And, the good news is it’s easy not to be her. While it can feel difficult to contribute as a new or inexperienced employee, there are ways to start and build on this.
If you have an idea in a meeting, write it down. If it gets brought up during the meeting and you’re too nervous to contribute, just take note of how others are reacting to that point. Are they agreeing or expressing different thoughts? The more you do this and the more your thoughts relate to those of others, the more confidence you should have in expressing your ideas verbally while in meetings. Another good way to contribute to meetings is to own part of the agenda. Ask your boss or manager if you can participate, even if it’s just to give an update on the part of a project you are working on. It’s easiest to contribute when you know what you’re talking about, and this is a good way to build confidence in your work and ideas.
In conclusion, embrace your inexperience and think beyond it. Everyone knows you’re new at the job, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like it! Ask questions with the future in mind; get the presentation jitters out by jumping into meetings; and start showing results by owning projects. They hired you for a reason; so don’t sell yourself short by delaying your ability to contribute. You’ll be the only one who knows what you’re capable of if you don’t work to share your talents with those around you.