Getting a new job is filled with anticipation and excitement. Starting a new job can produce a bit more anxiety. Your first 100 days can be crucial in your success for years to come, but can be the most difficult for a variety of factors. Alumni Association career expert Shahnaz Broucek, MBA’11, an executive coach at OptimizeU is prepared to help you navigate the beginning stages of a new career. She is even co-hosting a webinar on the topic in January. For now, read these tips for your best fresh start.
The Imposter Syndrome
You landed the job. You got the salary you wanted. Then reality sets in: “Do I really know what I’m doing with this position?”
Shahnaz explains this common lapse in confidence as “the imposter syndrome.” Motivated, driven individuals are often the most-affected.
“It’s a psychological phenomenon in which people don’t internalize their actual accomplishments. They fail to recognize what they’ve done in the past,” Shahnaz said. “When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you find yourself in unfamiliar situations and you’ll get triggered into this imposter syndrome.”
This is a normal reaction, and dealing with it begins with simply recognizing when you start thinking that way, Shahnaz says.
“Bring it into your consciousness. It’s part of you, not all of you. You know enough to have earned the position. Focus more on being the person asking the right questions than the one with all the answers.”
For the first few months in the office, you’re really trying to prove yourself as a valuable employee. But as you’re working hard and learning, it’s probable that you’ll make a mistake. But is making a mistake the worst thing that can happen?
“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough chances—you have to expect that,” Shahnaz says. “I think the key is to learn from them and really build time in to reflect and understand what happened.”
Look at mistakes as part of your transition, something to study so you can move forward. Shahnaz often encounters leaders who “firefight”—they are caught up in the crisis of the moment. When they don’t self-reflect on those moments, Shahnaz says, they lose the opportunity to learn from those experiences.
Learn the Culture, Build Relationships
On top of learning the ins-and-outs of your new job, you also have to learn how the organization and people in it operate. Sometimes people think the best thing for them to do is keep their head down and work. Shahnaz thinks the opposite is true.
“I think you really have to start with the end in mind: A year from now, what accomplishments are going to be important,” Shahnaz advises. “I think fundamental things like understanding the organization’s culture and having strong relationships with team members are what are going to matter.”
It doesn’t take any special tactics to learn about people and the company. Go to lunch with people, ask questions and be curious. “It’s not something you can learn without engaging people.”
Don’t focus exclusively on your team, either. Shahnaz points out there are people across departments you could end up working closely with. There could be people who are not the official leaders but still wield influence in the organization. “Take the time as you’re getting started to think about those connections somewhat strategically,” says Shahnaz.
Take Care of Yourself
“One thing I’ve noticed in my own career is that when I would start a position, I would always get sick within the first month. I’ve had several clients who’ve had the same experience.”
It’s the worst time to get sick, but starting a new job piles on your risk of illness. So what can you do proactively to manage your stress?
Think about what you’ve given up because of work stress—spending time with friends, working out, doing things that are renewing—they all go on the backburner. You need to keep things like this in your life to perform your best at work.
“If you start with the idea that you’re doing this to put yourself in a clear state of mind, it is much easier to commit to self-care.”