Tips for Starting a New Position

By: Rachel

While starting a new role can certainly be exciting, there’s always a little bit of nervousness too, at least if you’re anything like me! Especially when starting a position, we often feel pressure to make sure we’re doing everything right and setting the best first impressions, which can be hard when there are so many unknowns about your job and the organization you’re becoming a part of. Now that I’ve been in my current role for nearly two years, there are many things I take for granted that I didn’t know starting out, so I wanted to share with you some of the questions and topics I’m glad I asked about when I was beginning in my role, as well as some things I wish I’d known sooner!

Dress Code
While external appearances aren’t all that matter, they certainly play a role in setting first impressions and helping you feel your best. Make sure you wear outfits you’re comfortable in, especially when it comes to footwear. Depending on your role, you might be touring buildings or engaging in activities, so at least until you have a feel for your typical day, it’s a good idea to plan to wear pieces you can move around in. Once you’ve accepted an offer and set a start date, be sure to talk to the recruiter you’ve been working with or your supervisor about dress code expectations and what you should plan to wear for your first day. At some organizations, you might be expected to dress a bit more formally the first day for an employee ID photo. In some companies, employees dress more casually on Fridays, so it’s good to have an idea of what is generally acceptable to wear and which items should be avoided.

Image: mostly sky for sunrise, with parked cars along bottom of photo
Text: Tips for starting a new position

Ask Questions
While your supervisor will likely have a role in your initial training, it’s a good idea to find out where or who you can go to when you have questions, as they’re bound to pop up particularly within your first few weeks. In some cases, your supervisor might want you to work directly with them, but often they will have other obligations that mean they aren’t always available. So, it can be a good idea to establish where you will go when you’re unsure of something. Sometimes in new roles, we feel pressure to perform, so you might feel like you have to figure something out on your own or you can’t ask a question. From my experience, it’s far better to reach out when a situation like this arises to learn quickly and get on the right track, rather than trying to work it out alone, which usually takes more time and creates more stress on your part. This also helps you build relationships with your peers as well as possibly provide opportunities to learn and problem solve together.

Food Situation & Breaks
While this might seem minor in the grand scheme of what you’ve been hired to do, taking care of your physical needs is essential to performing at your best. Similar to dress code topics, you might want to ask your recruiter or supervisor once you’ve accepted an offer about food options. Sometimes lunch will be provided on your first day, or some businesses have cafeterias where you can purchase meals, while other roles will require you to bring your own meals. Some jobs require long hours in remote locations where you’ll need to bring all the water you’ll need throughout the day, so it’s important to iron out these details. When starting a new role, there’s a lot to learn and process, so it’s important to make sure your body is properly fueled. Additionally, make sure you have an understanding of the expectations around breaks. How often are breaks typically taken, and for how long? Is there a certain time limit to your lunches, or is it up to your personal discretion? Additionally, if you have any specific dietary concerns, be sure these and any other needs are communicated with your supervisor and/or HR representative.

Learn the Norms
Many of the points we’ve covered here have to do with norms, or the typical practices within any given organization. But, beyond what to wear and how long you’ll have to eat, there are going to be countless other norms you’ll pick up on throughout your integration into a new company. Some of these you might be able to ask about right away, but recognize some of them will come with time. Do people normally communicate through email, phone, or in person? Are there specific hours of the day you’re expected to work? What are the norms surrounding working over the weekend? When you can, reach out to others and ask questions. Working with your supervisor will help you identify the key contacts who can give you the appropriate answers, rather than risking misinformation from a random coworker. The key here is to do whatever it is you need to do to acclimate yourself with the organization and feel comfortable in your new role. Rather than take it on yourself and wonder if you’re on the right track, reach out, ask questions, and seek feedback. Connect with your supervisors, coworkers, and the people in roles to support you as an employee, such as Human Resources. Doing so shows you care about filling your role to the best of your ability and will set you on the path to success in whatever position you find yourself in.

Best, Rachel 

Of Possible Interest:
Checklist for Relocating
The Desk Essentials
#BulldogOnTheJob – Bri: emphasis on managing mental health while working
Tips on Transitioning from College to the Working World
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Preparing for a New, Virtual Role

By: Kendra

Due to the pandemic, many people are being forced to work from home. Starting a new role in a virtual modality can be intimidating, so I wanted to outline some ways to prepare for this. At the end of the month, I will be starting in a new role with Wipfli, which is a public accounting firm. The position is an entirely virtual, full-time internship. Starting a new job can be super nerve-wracking, as it’s hard to know what to expect until you begin. Virtually, this idea can be even more intimidating due to the fact that you will be learning everything about the job through a computer screen. By preparing for your new role, you will set yourself up for success. 

Image: pomeranian dog dress up in eyeglasses and shirt, sitting in front of open iPad
Text: Prep tips for virtual internships & jobs

Physical Preparations
Communicate with your new employer. When starting a new role, there is typically a great deal of pre-employment paperwork to be completed before you are able to start. Working with your new employer to complete all of this is a great way to prepare for your role. Additionally, before beginning in a new position, you should be sure to communicate with your new employer. In my situation, I have had to inform my employer about my plans of completing the internship while simultaneously taking courses, as I will have to pause my work and attend virtual lectures on some days. 

Stock your supplies. When working from home, you won’t have access to the many, many supplies that you would find in a typical company’s office. Be sure to stock your workspace with pens, pencils, notepads, staples, etc., as these will all come in handy. 

Prepare your workspace. When working from home, it is important to designate a workspace for yourself. Be sure to clear this space of any unneeded clutter, organize your supplies, and make sure all of your technology is in place. Keep the location of your workspace in mind, as you will often be participating in virtual calls and will want to have good lighting and a clean background. I am receiving computer equipment from my new employer, so part of my preparation will be me setting up all of this equipment and making sure it works. 

Mental Preparations 
Schedule your time. When beginning a new role, it is important to be sure to think about how your time management will be altered by the position. Go through all of the different areas of your life that you dedicate time to — exercising, spending time with friends/family, a side gig, school, etc. Starting a new role means adding another time commitment to your schedule. It will be important to plan out which activities are most important to you and plan out how you will manage your time to fit it all in. 

Be well rested. If you are about to begin a new role, it is important to start a sleep schedule and stick to it, as being well rested will help you perform to your best. In my situation, I have spent this semester kind of waking up and going to sleep whenever I feel like it, rather than having a specific time for each. I have started to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day to prepare myself for having to wake early and work each day. 

Research the company. The difficult part about preparing for a new role is that it is difficult to prepare for the actual tasks you will be doing in the position until you start. What you can do, though, is further familiarize yourself with your new employer. Browse the company’s website to better understand their culture, the work they do, and more. In my experience, I have found that scrolling through Wipfli’s website has helped me realize that I am starting a new role with this company and the people I see on the site. 

Again, it is difficult to prepare for a new role, as it is hard to prepare for something that you aren’t familiar with. Virtual roles can be extra intimidating, too. While it can be hard to prepare, there are some steps you can take to help yourself get ready. The steps I listed above are just meant to get you started; they might not even apply to you or your situation. Regardless, it is super important to prepare yourself in any way you are able. Best of luck with your new role!

Of Possible Interest:
Tips for a Successful Virtual Intern Experience
Tips for Interning & Working Remotely
Internships – all our blog posts on the topic (including several about being successful in your role)

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Cookie the Pom

Company Culture 101

Company culture is important. There are few people out there who aren’t affected by the environment that surrounds them at work. Company culture involves things like: mission, vision, values (envisioned & practiced), goals, how the manager/boss/president/CEO runs the workplace, and so many more things. Company culture influences how you do your work and potentially who you work with. If you are someone whose productivity and happiness are strongly influenced by the environment around you, you will want to invest a decent amount of energy into investigating the type of company culture you’ll need to succeed at your job or internship. And sometimes, you need to experience a certain environment to figure out that it doesn’t work for you.

Company Culture KY

Here are a few articles to get you started on how to discover the company culture that works for you:

Assimilating into a New Workforce

By: Michael

Anyone starting a new job knows the awkward beginnings of trying to fit into a new work culture. Business majors talk about it all the time, but it applies to everyone. I started my internship with McGladrey in early January, nearly going through what sociologists like to call culture shock. When you start a new job, you’re faced with a multitude of new coworkers, who are each their individual person and likewise affect that culture. So how do you start the assimilation process and make your own place in the company or business? It might take some time, but eventually getting to know your co-workers and finding connections can be very rewarding both in a career sense and in a personal sense.

When I started with McGladrey it was my first exposure working for a national company, and every year they send new hires and interns from all over the country to go through a weeklong training program in St. Charles, Illinois. During orientation, I heard about the ‘company culture’ frequently. So what is it exactly? Here are the basics:

  1. A mission statement that defines the goals and aspirations of a company
  2. An established level of power distance between you and those in higher positions within the company
  3. The clientele focus
  4. The type of work performed
  5. The individual personalities that the company seeks

Now you’ve all heard it before, the cliché action verbs that everyone wants to put on their resume to try to stand out as a go-getter, an achiever, or someone with a keen eye for detail. All of this might stand out on your resume and get you to that interview, but to really lock in that job and prove that you would be a good fit for whatever job you are applying for you need to do your research and put yourself out there. Networking makes all the difference; it gives you a chance to meet your potential coworkers. Understanding a company’s mission when you walk in that door for your interview makes all the difference in the world. After all, how can you comfortably apply for a company and expect to be a good fit when you know nothing about it?

Company culture

One thing I’ve learned with McGladrey is that there is a surprisingly low amount of power distance in the hierarchy. On my first day I was meeting with senior associates and partners whom I now work with on a daily basis. It was intimidating at first, but I knew right away that in order to survive the tax season as a tax accountant, I would need to work very closely with everyone around me. Every day I get assignments that I collaborate on with different people in the office. In a job like this, you have to be personable and you have to be humble, especially in an internship. I was told on a number of occasions that when McGladrey hires new interns, they assume that we know nothing and that we would have to learn everything. I once was told at our Christmas party that in the past, the interns who didn’t get a full time offer were the ones that didn’t exercise those exact traits. Remember, this is a new culture, you don’t really know anyone, you haven’t worked with them, and you are expected to put yourself out there and fit in. I’m not telling you to change who you are as a person, in many cases people discover that the company or its culture just aren’t for them. Public accounting in a nutshell has a surprisingly high turnover rate, probably because of the demanding atmosphere, especially during tax season.

On a final note, my tips to a relatively smooth transition into a new job are these:

  • Try to meet everyone you can right away, talk to everyone, introduce yourself
  • Do your best to attend and participate in outside-work activities
  • Ask questions, never assume things about the work environment if you don’t know
  • Never underestimate the usefulness of reading up or researching current happenings within the company (for example, McGladrey sends out a weekly newsletter and I make sure to put aside some time to browse through it)

For any of you starting a new job or internship soon, or are beginning their interviews for the summer: Good luck!

Of possible interest:

Read Michael’s other posts

Office Etiquette: Part 1

By: Ashlee

With great gain comes a bit of sacrifice. That’s how the saying goes, right? It’s certainly been true for me. Within the next few weeks, my office will be incredibly hectic as we pack and prepare to move from one location to another. The great gain from this move? I’m getting my own office! I couldn’t be more excited about this, but there’s still a ways to go before my office will become my office, if you get what I mean. During this transition, I now have to share my current workspace. See, I’m someone who likes to spread her work out, and to suddenly have a second body practically right on top of you takes a bit of adjusting. My current office space isn’t all that spacious, so to suddenly have a roommate of sorts has been trying.

office etiquette

When you’re sharing that close of quarters with someone, no matter how short a period of time, there are certain guidelines one needs to respect and I’ve learned about them quickly in the past few weeks.

Rule #1: Think Before You Speak
Seems like such a simple rule, right? Think again. While your friends might get your dry sense of humor or recognize your sarcastic tone, it’s probably not a bad idea to keep these personality quirks in check while getting to know a new coworker, especially one who is within hearing range of your mid-day mutterings. It’s like going on a first date. You don’t show every weird quirk you have immediately. Warm up to them first, and then let your wild side out.

Rule #2: Be a Team Player
Many companies are short-staffed, which means everybody, and I mean everybody, needs to take on a larger workload. Don’t push your responsibilities onto somebody else. It will only put a bigger burden on them and cause their stress levels to rise a notch or two. You want to look forward to walking into the office every day, not cringe at the memory of the pile still left on your desk from yesterday thanks to your office mate and their diligent task of trash basketball.

Rule #3: Respect a Closed Door
If a coworker has a door shut, stay out. Even if they don’t look like they’re busy at the moment, give them their space. The door is shut for a reason. Heed this rule if you also see them talking on the phone. They already have something on their mind, and you don’t want to distract them further.

Rule #4: Skip the Childish Pranks
Any joke made at your coworker’s expense probably isn’t all that funny. It’s even worse if it costs you a client. While it’s good to have a fun and inside jokes type of coworker, especially when they are literally over your shoulder, don’t let it get in the way of your work or you’ll both deal with the consequences.

Rule #5: Take a Breath Before You Hit ‘Send’
You need to get a hold of someone. What do you do? I bet you head straight for your email before picking up the phone. I agree it is easier to shoot off a quick email than face the possibility of losing control in a face-to-face encounter. But be aware! Once that email is sent to a coworker (or to or from a work email account) it becomes company property. Don’t say something you may regret minutes after hitting that infamous ‘send’ button. Emails also run the risk of getting things misinterpreted. Save the drama, and walk down the hall to the person’s office, and hash it out verbally. It may prove quicker than an email, especially if the problem at hand is about who’s turn it is to wash the kitchen coffee pot.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Ashlee’s other posts

Who to Know Around the Office

By: Ashlee

While I may not be crunching numbers for Final Exams, I have been doing my own sort of studying: the studying of my coworkers, and others who come and go from our office area daily. Getting to know coworkers and understanding their roles around the office helps you create a friendly and welcoming work environment, plus you also get to know them and the skill sets they possess. There are at least seven specific people you want to keep on your radar, according to a few powerful women and career experts.

Who to know in the office

1.)  The Intern/Student Workers: They may just be students now, but they’ll be joining the workforce sooner than you think. Five or ten years down the road? They’re going to be working men and women, as well as your colleagues. In fact, it’s a possibility they might become your “in” to your dream job at your dream company.

2.)  The Office Gossip: Oh yes, they exist everywhere you go. There will be moments where you want to tell them to go away so you can get some work done (because they never seem to be at their desks to do some!), but be nice. While they might annoy, they know things, like who’s leaving for another job, who’s being promoted…things you might like to know about so you can smartly strategize your next career move. By no means should you chime in when they bring the next juicy bit around to your desk, but certainly listen up when they talk, says Nicole Williams, founder of WORKS.

3.)  The I.T. Guru: Being the I.T. (information technology) person at any job can be a pretty thankless job. It seems the only time people want to talk to you is when their computer is going up in smoke. The I.T. department is one area to befriend. Kindness goes a long way, and it just might help you get your problems fixed sooner along with being told a few tips on how to avoid the same problems in the future. Fewer problems means more work can be accomplished, and more time is available for brainstorming new ideas!

4.)  The Office Manager: This seems like a no-brainer. They might be able to give you a heads-up on upcoming job openings and other happenings around the office. They also most likely order the supplies, keeping the office equipped with everything needed on a day-to-day basis, and the things you need for that special project (Go you!).

5.)  The Developer: While working diligently on that report for your boss, you’re suddenly inspired with an idea for a new software app that surely would benefit the company. The downside? It requires a ton of legwork to get it up and running. The problem? The developer – like I.T. – always has a ton of projects happening and their workload never seems to end. Get to know your website developers. Another benefit of working closely with developers? They usually work closely with management teams, and they might spread the word about how good your project is and how great you were to work with on it, says Janeesa Hollingshead, marketing manager for the start-up Fundable.com.

6.)  The male/female colleague: You certainly want to make friends with the men and women sitting in the desks and cubicles around you. Getting the perspective of a trusted and platonic coworker can give you a different perspective you need to work through the problems of your job and any project you’re slaving away on.

7.)  The Boss’s Assistant: Picture yourself in that cushy corner office? Your best bet to sitting behind that desk one day is to be on good terms with the boss’s assistant, says career coach Isha Cogborn. This boss’s assistant is usually super-organized and knows every booking within the boss’s calendar. They’re the person to talk to when you need to meet with your boss face-to-face, and more than likely, the boss’s assistant will be present to take notes, too. If they like you well enough, they’ll be more likely to work out details with you and maybe even bump you up on the boss’s calendar.

Regardless of their position, be friendly and respectful of every person in your work environment, including the mail carrier who stops in at least once a day, every day.  These are the people you work with, and you want your work environment to be a place you look forward to coming to every day.  Being able to joke with a coworker or two also takes the edge off a hard day.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Ashlee’s other posts