Almost six weeks ago I made the scariest and most thrilling change by leaving my job I knew and loved at the Office of the Public Defender (here’s a post about my last days at the office) and accepting a new job in an entirely different field! I loved my previous job as the Community Outreach Court Coordinator and I felt extremely fulfilled by directly assisting clients with their most pressing needs while walking alongside them in the court system. I loved working with service providers and community members I built relationships with and I was lucky enough to finish my service in COC with an absolutely incredible public defender as my program partner. I somehow found peace and joy in that position and despite bureaucracy and annoying loops to jump through, I for the most part was truly happy with my work life. However, my new job was an offer I simply could not refuse as both an advancement for my career and hopefully a chance to continue assisting the communities I care about most. I’ve been in my new job for the past six—nearly seven weeks now (how does time go by this quickly?) and while I still don’t know most people’s names or what any of the acronyms we use mean, I’ve taken note of key tips on how to do well in a career change. I’m lucky that my coworkers have been nice enough to help me through this newness and unfamiliarity (and ignorance, let’s be real) and I hope to continue learning and growing from here. Here are the six things I’ve learned in the past six weeks at my new job:
- First impressions are everything! I like to think of myself as a fairly charming girl (Yes I am still just a girl, okay?) and I’ve used my weird personality to my advantage as I’ve met so many new people in the last six weeks. I try to make people laugh at least once upon first meeting and I make an effort to be friendly not only at the start of Teams meetings when people are still logging on, but also in person when I’m in the slightly empty office floor and I see a fresh face. I don’t ever want to be thought of as rude or unfriendly and I at least want to be kind to everyone when we meet.
- Start off on a good foot with your supervisor. This point is the one I’m focusing on most as I move along in my new job. My supervisor is extraordinarily friendly, welcoming, and kind and I know that having a close working relationship is crucial. I’m lucky that she’s been so helpful and engaging with me so I try to ensure that I’m meeting her expectations in my capacity. I make sure to communicate with her about every step I take in completing a project or setting up a meeting so she’s abreast at the current state of my work. At my previous job, my old supervisor and I initially butted heads because our expectations didn’t match up, so I don’t ever want to repeat that mistake.
- Ask questions! Up until probably this week, I was truly lost when I heard coworkers in meetings reciting different acronyms or abbreviations, so I noted the ones I was confused about and brought them up to my supervisor in our 1:1 meetings or with other coworkers on the side. I know no one expects me to know everything about the company or our work yet, so I want to ensure I at least have a running definition/understanding of terms, projects, and other people’s roles.
- Take notes on everything. Every time I attend a meeting, whether it’s a department introduction or a committee update, I note absolutely everything being talked about. I use my Baylor Athletics skill of transcription to type word-for-word what people are saying so I can reference the dialogue either in my 1:1 or in my general understanding of what’s going on.
- Maintain relationships with the people who got you where you are. I’m lucky that my new job focuses on a similar population to what I used to work with, so I’ve had several meetings with service providers I worked alongside to get their thoughts/suggestions/ideas about what my company is doing and how I can help. When I left my old job I respectfully emailed every service provider I could to let them know I was moving on, so it’s been easy to pick up where we left off and continue conversations about our shared interests!
- Just because you don’t know anything now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. On my first day in the office (I luckily worked from home for almost four weeks and now am on a hybrid schedule) I was alone and scared and felt like I made a huge mistake making this change. I thought I didn’t know anything about my position or the company or what I was supposed to be doing and my fear was that I wouldn’t ever get to a point of comfortability. I’m still uncomfortable 65% of the time and I’m slowly learning more every day, but now that I’ve met with so many people and done my own research, my stress and anxiety is lessening! I’m looking forward to the day where I don’t feel like an absolute lost cause and I can’t wait to get there!