Of the challenges we face as young professionals, one of the most common stressors is learning to adapt to a new environment. Being the new kid is hard on two counts: finding our place in a new environment and being the “kid.” Depending on where you work, you may end up being the youngest employee by a long shot. Whether or not this is the case, it is likely that your youth will be a dominant factor in how coworkers approach you, even if they don’t mean to. Sometimes you have to battle a bit to show that lack of ability does not automatically go hand in hand with lack of experience. Forbes posted an article outlining seven tips for workforce newbies to make an impact at their new job, without emphasizing that you’re the new kid in the office.
Keep to the code.
There are conflicting views on dress codes. Whether you dress for the job you want or a level above the job you want, do not ignore the office standards. If everyone is wearing jeans and you show up in a suit, I guarantee your coworkers will draw lasting impressions, and not necessarily positive ones. It is natural to judge a person first by their appearance, no matter how superficial that impression may be. This detracts from what you actually showed up to do, which is to produce good work. So even though you are the new kid in the office, try not to look it. Make it easy on your coworkers and yourself and wear appropriate clothing, whatever that may be for your position.
Don’t overthink it.
You passed the first test when you made it through the hiring process. Sure, you still have to show them that you can be the worker they hired you to be, but remember that they already believe you are capable. Take that idea and use it as encouragement rather than stressing over proving yourself. Nervous behavior is difficult to take seriously, especially if it interrupts normal work, such as babbling during conversations.
Confidence is good – narcissism is not.
You have been awarded a great opportunity, so do not take it for granted. There is a difference between being confident and just being loud, so try not to speak just for the sake of making yourself heard. Your coworkers will appreciate it all the more if your contributions are well constructed and relevant.
Put yourself out there.
Volunteer for things, offer a possible solution to a problem, or propose a new idea. The new kid in the office is not expected to know everything, but they are expected to make an effort to learn. Allow yourself to make mistakes by trying something different. You will learn more that way than when you just watch from the sidelines, and your coworkers will respect you more for caring.
When you are at the office, try to leave your personal life at the door. Take your lunch break to make any calls or run errands that do not directly relate to your work. Separate yourself from any outside conflicts and focus on what you are there for. It’s not only respectful and responsible, but it keeps you from dwelling on things you have no control over while at work.
If you don’t know, ask.
Beyond everyday questions about your assignments, be sure you are asking questions that will help you improve overall as an employee. Sit down with you supervisor and get his or her opinion on your efforts. Also, ask about any extra assignments you could help with. There are sure to be plenty of tasks you can get involved with.
Meet your challenges head-on.
Look, you can only be the newbie for so long. There will come a time when you have to step up and put yourself in positions where you can grow. Understand what your company is looking for by researching past projects. Set goals for yourself, whether you have until the end of summer or if your stay at the company is indefinite. Know what they expect from you and match that, then add a little something on top to show you’re not just the new kid in the office. You may even surprise yourself.