We were at the local Chop House eating deviled egg appetizers and catching up. I had been on the job with my new gig for about a month and everything seemed unfamiliar and unknown.

“I mean, I, uh, think I should have the hang of it within six months.” I tried to fake confidence, but couldn’t help being vulnerable. “It’s just a lot right now.”

My wise previous, previous boss looked across the table with love in her eyes. I had worked with her for two years before starting my new position and she felt like family.

“Make that more like a year!” She said with a chuckle, “This is all brand new to you. You have to learn entirely new systems, people and industry. But, you will learn and you’ll learn quickly. Give yourself time.”

Oh, geez. I’m a type 3 enneagram get-it-done kind of person, not the kind who sits around for six months or a whole year to figure out what the heck is going on. I had grown accustomed to being the one everyone called for an answer, the one everyone relied on and the one whose office was more like a visitor’s center when people walked down the hall. And, to top things off, I was 14 weeks post-partum just trying to keep my baby alive while returning to (new) work life. Whew!

Even without the new baby, it can be challenging starting a new gig. In true millennial fashion, I have shifted careers twice in the past 5 years. Although each role has been similar in nature, the industries (and definitely the office spaces!) have been pretty different. I remember once being so frustrated that I couldn’t remember how to send items to the copier from Word. Like, how can that be hard?!

When we step into systems and environments we are not accustomed to, we can feel out of place or question our decision to step out of comfort. However, if a few strategies are put in place, I believe we can find rhythms and progress quickly in a new job.


1. Over communicate. In this new role, you don’t know your new boss and your new boss doesn’t know you. Even if you have known each other for years, it’s important to build that trust in your working relationship. In my weekly one-on-ones, I always make sure my action items from the previous meeting are completed, communicate areas I need guidance, and fill my boss in on what I’ve been up to the past week. If your boss isn’t the type to care, he or she will tell you. If they do care, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a micromanager. Rather, it might mean he or she is a good leader who cares about the work you are doing.

2. Problem solve first. In my prior role, I worked with high school students and often heard their teachers say, “Try three then me.” This is a good method for adults, too! Before you ask your boss a question, what three other resources can you take advantage of? For instance, is there a shared drive you can search, a coworker you can ask, or an answer within your email (she might have already told you…) or on the company website? Your job is to make your boss’ job easier. Finding your own solutions goes a long way.

3. Find which systems transfer and which to temporarily retire. At my first job out of college, I wrote down exactly what I needed to do each day on a big monthly desk calendar. I was terrified I would forget something. At my second job, I ordered a similar desk calendar and guess what? It went virtually unused. My first job only had 1 or 2 projects to manage at a time, but in my second role I had 5-8 different programs to manage. After multiple attempts, I had to figure out a new system. I finally found that making a weekly master to-do list, blocking lists off by project, and then writing daily priorities at the end of each workday worked best in that role. It’s trial and error, but developing the best “this -won’t-let-me-drop-the-ball” system for you is imperative.

4. Create healthy boundaries from day one. If you begin your new role working through lunch or emailing at all hours of the night, your team will begin to understand that is who you are. Once you create the norm, you’ll keep working to maintain the expectation you inadvertently built, crossing family or personal boundaries along the way.

5. Put yourself out there. Having a large network has never hurt anyone, people. Over the course of 30-60 days, schedule 15-minute time blocks with everyone on staff (or at least everyone on your hall or floor). Ask what they do, when your work might cross paths and take a few minutes to get to know them on a personal level. At my previous roles, folks on my hallway who had absolutely no job responsibility to help me always came through right when I was overloaded. Relationships matter!

I still have deviled egg appetizers with my previous, previous boss from time to time. I’ll never forget the words she said when I delivered my two weeks notice. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “You don’t know who might need to hear the Gospel where you’re going.”

Remember you were created for a purpose. You were created with unique gifts and talents to carry into your new role. Go out, embrace change as best you can, and work hard!

    AUTHOR: Trisha Murphy
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