For all you graduates out there that are about to start a new job, or even your first job altogether, I know exactly how nerve-racking the thought of settling in can be.
But it’s also one of the most exciting times of your life.
It’s been 2 years since I graduated, and I’ve had several different jobs. And every time I’ve started in a new position, I’ve found myself worrying and stressing about making the best impression and being competent at everything and anything that gets put in front of me.
Yet, with practice comes perfect. I was riddled with anxiety before starting my first job as a psychology research assistant at the University of Bath. I had to move away from home too, which made it all the more difficult to feel comfortable in the role. But now, several job switches later, I’m great at settling into a position and thriving in my environment.
These are the methods I use, and they will help you start a job like a pro after graduating.
1. Revisit Your Job Description
When you apply for a job, you should always study the job description. It’ll give you the primary responsibilities within your role.
What tends to happen is after we accept the job offer, we often forget about the job role. This is because the whole job searching process can be a very long, drawn-out process, and we’re most likely applying to 100 different jobs.
One of the things that have helped me massively settle into a job is to remind myself of the job description before starting the new role.
Get that job description back up and read through your duties and responsibilities carefully. Highlight key responsibilities such as the exact tasks you’ll be required to do, who will be supervising you or the specific hours you’re required to work etc.
This approach works because:
- It limits any surprises. If I get given a task to do, I’m not shocked by anything given to me because I know what my duties are.
- I start to develop questions to ask — it helps me clarify what is required in my job role.
- Looking back through the job description gets me familiar with the role, which helps me feel comfortable when starting that exciting new job. Psychologists have labeled this as the ‘mere-exposure effect’.
Revisit the job description, highlight the main duties and tasks, write down questions that you have so you can ask your supervisor and familiarise yourself with the role as much as possible to help you feel more comfortable.
2. Shadow Other Workers
My view is that you should always be able to shadow existing workers in your new role.
By shadowing, I mean spending time with experienced co-workers within similar roles. It’s essentially on-the-job learning.
I work as an assistant clinical psychologist, with aspirations of becoming a qualified clinical psychologist. When I first came into my role, I spent a lot of time, in the beginning, shadowing experienced clinical psychologists in their sessions with their clients.
It enabled me to see assessments, interventions and psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and family intervention in action. That insight was invaluable, and I was able to see how to tackle difficult interactions and formulate questions to discuss with the psychologists.
Within your first 2 weeks, shadow as many people as you can. Ask your manager/supervisor if they haven’t suggested this already.
Again, by doing this you’re becoming more familiar with the role, helping you feel more comfortable.
When you start your role, go around with different workers, spend time with them and see your tasks/responsibilities in action. Before you know it you’ll be feeling like a pro at your role in no time!
3. Interact With Your Co-Workers
Interacting with co-workers has always been a tricky one for me as I’m a naturally shy and introverted person.
I get it — when you start the new job, you:
- don’t want to make a fool out of yourself.
- want to show people that you can do a fantastic job.
- worry about what people think about you.
However, I noticed that when I interacted with my co-workers immediately, and I was also fortunate enough to have many co-workers who came up to me and make me feel welcome, it made the whole process of settling in much easier.
Social interaction is key. It’s been found to increase positive affect — which refers to positive emotions and relationships people experience.
If you engage with your co-workers, you’re more likely to experience positive emotions, which will translate into your work, and again, it will make you feel comfortable with your new role, helping you get off to a great start!
Here are a few things that helped me interact with my co-workers, which helped me settle in well:
- Introduce yourself to other workers in your team. Tell them you’ve just graduated, what course you studied, why you chose this role etc.
- If you’re not sure what to say, ask them questions to help the conversation flow and listen to them — how long have you worked here? Do you enjoy it? Where is a good place to have lunch?
- Go to the social events — nowadays, most jobs have social events, even if it’s just going down the road for lunch or dinner after work, or even a quiz on Zoom during this pandemic. Try to get involved with these socials to help you engage with your co-workers in a more friendly, personal manner rather than just work-related topics.
Try engaging with your colleagues. It will most definitely help with settling in, making you feel more confident in your new job. It’s also great to be a good teammate, both for you, and your coworkers.
Starting your first job after graduating from university can be a daunting process.
The 3 take-home messages to help you settle in and make the process less intimidating are:
- Revisit your job description to familiarise yourself with the role again.
- Shadow different workers in your first 2 weeks.
- Engage with your co-workers early on.
All these tips will you settling into your new job quickly. You’ll be walking and talking like a pro in no time.