(Today’s old-timey photographs brought to you by the copyright-free glory that is Flickr Commons. I’ve been using it at work lately, and finding it a fun resource.)
I am the new kid on the block. By “kid”, I mean “fully-grown adult woman” and by “block”, I mean “9-5 office environment”. But saying “I am the new fully-grown adult woman in a 9-5 office environment” doesn’t really have a nice ring to it, does it?
This is the long way of saying that I have a new job.
I was in my last job for five years. That might not sound like much, but it’s double the length of time I’ve worked anywhere else. I’d been feeling it was time to move on for a little while – my team and the nature of the work had changed a lot over the last year or two and I found myself getting irritable about things that wouldn’t have bothered me normally. However, as grateful as I was to move on to a new place, I realised there were a few things I’d taken for granted as a five-year office veteran.
Easy banter with colleagues I’d known a long time. Knowing who to ask to get help/stationery/nearby cafe recommendations. Always having the option of a buddy for lunch if I wanted it.
Now I have to build all of that back up again and I’d forgotten what a slow process it can be. But now that I’m two weeks in, I can recommend a couple of tools of the trade that have helped smooth the way for me a little at the the beginning, should you ever find yourself to be a new kid in future.
A decent book. For those times when you’re eating lunch alone, reading a book seems to me to be a more absorbing activity than browsing half-heartedly on your phone. I’ve also found it useful for filling in time waiting for training sessions to begin, since I’ve had a lot of those lately, and not much else in between. It’s also better than listening to music on headphones, since you can still eavesdrop on other people’s conversations in the break room and figure out if you share any interests.
A cup of coffee. This week, a couple of my new colleagues started asking if I wanted to go grab a morning coffee with them. I rarely drink coffee, but you can bet I’ve been drinking a lot of it lately. The best way to get to know your fellow salt-mine toilers is to spend a little time with them outside the office, even if it’s just a 5-minute stroll to get coffee. Then you can talk more freely and find out who accidentally curses the most, a.k.a who will be your new best friend.
A plate of sugary baked goods. I will be making a big batch of treats to shamelessly further my plan of winning friends and influencing people. This one’s fairly self explanatory. The only thing to consider is whether I’ll make these overnight cinnamon rolls or some kind of decadent cupcake.
A good sense of humour. Smile. Laugh at people’s jokes (especially if they aren’t funny). Be warm and friendly and people will want to know more about you. Eventually, you can reveal yourself to be the bitter, world-weary cynic you really are, but to draw people in initially, it pays to be a bit nice. In a month or two, there’ll be some other new kid that you’ll be making dumb jokes to, to make them feel comfortable. Then they’ll make a decent batch of brownies to share and the Circle of Life will be complete.