Starting a new job isn’t easy; it can be a nerve-racking and overwhelming experience. Many individuals question their decision and motives behind it: Did I make the right choice? Should I have given it more time? Should I have stayed another year? Others question their own abilities: Can I really handle the responsibilities that this position entails? And others, who have been successful in the past, question their ability to fit in and be successful in their new environment: Will they like me here? Will I do a good job? Will I make them proud they hired me?
If you are looking for a new experience and anticipate a job change, here are some helpful hints to help you transition your way to success:
1. Learn as much as you can about the institution.
Not all higher education institutions are the same. There are small, private colleges, large, public universities and also community colleges. Some institutions are also religiously affiliated while others are well-known for their athletic programs or Greek Life. Therefore, when embarking upon a new position at a new school, it is very important to learn all you can about the institution and its history. There are a few ways to do this:
Use the Internet- Connect to the institution’s website and spend some time looking around. Oftentimes there is a link dedicated to general information, which is a great starting point. You can also learn a great deal about what is happening on campus from the school’s recent news releases. The more time you spend “surfing” their website, the more you will learn about the school and the better prepared you will be.
Do some reading – Most likely, during the recruitment process, you will have received a number of publications from both the institution and the department. Don’t just discard these pamphlets once you have arrived on campus. Read them and use them as you begin to get to know your new environment.
Take a tour- Sure, this sounds like a “touristy” thing to do, but joining an admissions representative on an official tour can be a very enlightening experience. Tour guides are usually students, so you will be able to get a student perspective of life at your school while both familiarizing yourself with the campus and learning more about the resources offered.
2. Learn all you can about the job.
The best way to start is to jump right in and make sure that you are aware of all your responsibilities. Here are a few ways to learn as much as you can about your job:
Use your job description – Keep a copy of your job description on hand, especially during the first few weeks. Using the job description, outline your role(s) and make a list of all your responsibilities. As you meet with your supervisor, refer back to your list and inquire about any other minor responsibilities that may have been omitted from the published description.
Choose a peer mentor – It is important, especially within the first few weeks, to get to know your colleagues. Pick someone, a veteran, and ask them to show you the “ropes”. You may have a long list of questions that need answering, but feel that you are bothering your supervisor with so many questions. Perhaps meet weekly for lunch or dinner as you begin your transition so that your mentor can help you address issues and questions as they arise.
Introduce yourself – In addition to meeting with your supervisor and your mentor, it is also very important to meet with those individuals in your department with whom you will work. Learn what it is they do and learn how your position and responsibilities coincide with theirs.
3. Familiarize yourself with all relevant mission statements.
Nowadays, mission statements and vision statements can be found everywhere. As an employee, it is in your best interest to know and understand the mission and vision of your employer. When entering into a new college community, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the mission statements of the institution, the division and the department. If you are unsure of the direction you are to take with your new position, these statements can help guide you. Upon reading the goals of the institution, division and department, it is also wise to create a mission or vision statement of your own: What is it that you want to accomplish? In what direction do you see your position going?
4. Make your office your space.
As you jump into your new role, make sure to spend an adequate amount of time in transforming your office into your space. While some of you may be transitioning into newly created positions, others will be taking over for someone else. If you take the time to both arrange the office to your liking and to fill it with your professional possessions, you will instantly feel a sense of belonging.
1. Settle in.
It is very important to fully settle into your new home. You will have enough to worry about with your professional transition…you don’t have to add more stress by returning home each night to piles of boxes and a big mess. If you can focus and fully unpack in the beginning, or at least make a plan to set aside a certain amount of time each night to do so, you will keep your worries to a minimum. Plus, you will feel more “at home” when surrounded by all your personal belongings.
2. Get to know the area.
Buy a map, pick up a guidebook or use the Internet to find out about the area’s attractions and go experience them. Ask natives for nightly or weekend excursion suggestions. Don’t be afraid to get lost… sometimes you see and learn more about an area that way.
3. Get involved.
Get involved with both the institution and the outside community. See a university production, listen to a college a cappella group’s performance, sign up for a community service project or join a gym. If you are feeling disconnected from your new environment, do what you tell all your students to do…jump right in and get involved. You will meet new people, make new friends and feel a part of your community.
Submitted by Jennifer Maloney, Residence Hall Director, Boston College