Monday, April 25, 2011

FNG at the JOB

I have heard that there is a study buried somewhere that lists out the most stressful events in a person's life. I am not talking about being held at gunpoint or being wedged between 2 rocks and having to self-amputate, but events that are more likely to happen to everyone at least once in their life. From what I remember here were the top events: Marriage, Buying/Selling a house, Starting a new job, & having a baby.

I encountered one of these events recently and I started a new Job. In the exciting world of IT Project Management there's really not much variation. You have some network/internet component, some boxes with lights on them (think computer) and other boxes with lights on them (firewall or load-balancer) , and then you have whatever stuff you are going to put in those boxes (kind of like the programs that run on your computer). Without getting more technical, which I am not good at, thats about it. Some companies just use different boxes with lights but thats about it. At the end of the day the boxes do the same thing, make someone sitting at a computer somewhere do their job easier.

Now that I have probably dumbed my career down so that anyone can do it, I will get into the "stressful" part of starting a new job. I think this list will be an all encompassing whether you are a auto mechanic, accountant, or brew-master.

  • Will they like me? Probably the biggest stress of all is how are you going to fit in with a group 0f people you have never talked to or worked with before. I for one may seem cool as a cucumber, but on the inside I am thinking about this  constantly because it will dictate how easy or hard it will be to get my job done in the upcoming months. So before you show up your first day practice acting confident without coming off as a butthead.

  • Will this job be the same as the last one? GET THAT THOUGHT OUT OF YOUR HEAD. You aren't at you old job anymore. This is the new signer of your paycheck. In the immortal words of Eric B. & Rakim "It ain't where ya from, it's where ya at."
  • In other words, wondering if you made the right decision after you start is irrelevant.
  • Is this job going to be over my head? There's really no way to know what you are getting into with a new job. You can ask all the questions you want in the interview, but until about 4-6 months in after you start you figure out how everything works and if you are going to be successful. Interview questions are more about making the interviewer apply some pressure and how the interviewee reacts to the perceived pressure. The key thing to start figuring out  Day 1 is what it looks like to be successful at your job (not Steve's) because you could be rocking it out in your own head, but Management might see it some other way. Unfortunately you need to play to the crowd for a little bit even if they want to hear "Sweet Caroline" for the 10th time that week.

  • What new systems do I need to learn? As mentioned before and in my opinion it takes 4-6 months to figure out what you are doing and how to do it efficiently. Most of that time frame is deciphering all the applications and homegrown systems  a company has. If you've worked in one of the systems before, there's a good chance it won't work the same as it did at the last place. Also keep in mind that efficiency is relative. What I mean by that is on the chance that you have figured out a way to do your job quicker & easier, it might not follow the established process at the new place and is therefore immaterial. You gotta build up your clout before you go changing process.

Professionally, I think that covers the main concerns, but what about at home? Well my next post will deal with the pressures of bacon home-bringing and how to deal with that. Afterall, you have to live with your family and they should trump everything.

Got any more advice? Lets hear it.


  1. John:

    good assessment of what it's like to go for a new job.

    I think with experience come high expectations and the fear of "groundhog day". Whenver I have started a new job I've been terrible scared before and the first few weeks.

    But. in the long run, 90% of the time has it worked out to be a better move. As you said below, you want to do something different and be in a different environment once in a while if you are not internally dead already or have other constraints that keep you in a dead end job (economy, bacon earner etc.).

    Good luck with your new job. Should have, would have, and could have are a waste of time, so look forward and have fun. "If you do what you did, you get what you got".


  2. Good luck with the new job! I think you summed up the stresses of a new job perfectly. I always worry about how I'm going to fit in and if I'll do a good job too. I've been at my job about 1.5 years and and just starting to really come out of my shell. Some have seen the "real" me but I'm still reserved a lot of times. One girl I work with is very outspoken and she either hates you or loves you. Well, we've always gotten along but just really started talking these last couple of months and found out we are so freaking alike! I'm just reserved at work and she isn't. haha!

    I work in IT too..I'm on the support end. When people ask exactly what I do I usually say "When you break your computer, I fix it." If I went into everything else I do, server work, etc they wouldn't really understand..but that they get.