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Starting a new job can be a lot like hang gliding – it would be ideal to start slowly, but you really have no control in the matter. Then you just end up spending most of the time trying not to run into the side of a cliff.
I would know. Not that I’ve ever been hang gliding, but because this is my first week here at MediaTec Publishing Inc., the Chicago-based company that publishes Talent Management, along with two other award-winning business-to-business publications.
Yes, you’re reading the blog of a newbie. I was hired as an associate editor about three weeks ago and I started Monday. Part of my inauguration into the position is writing this blog on the highs and lows of being “the new guy” at the company.
The powers that be – my editors – thought it would be both appropriate for TM readers and therapeutic for me as I work toward becoming assimilated at MediaTec.
So on-boarding? Technical definitions vary, but in general, as “My Personal Onboarding plan: The New Hire’s Guide to On-The-Job Success” defines on-boarding, it is the process of getting a new hire oriented, up to speed and able to add value while behaving legally, morally and ethically.”
Four days in and I can happily report that I haven’t behaved illegally, so I can check that off my list! Add value? What, like, bringing in cookies and cake for everyone in the office? Am I right?
But in all seriousness, this first week has been totally overwhelming: new people, new procedures to learn, different assignments, the sheer number of assignments, how to do this, that, and everything-in-between. And after I find time to do all that stuff, when am I going to be able to get my work done?! Phew. All the other new hires out there catch my drift.
The “getting up to speed” part is the hardest. You know you’re qualified for the job, but everyone else has already been there forever, and, as a result, knows how to do everything. Being the new employee is like showing up to a giant flash mob and not knowing any of the dance moves.
What this has meant for me this week has been working toward understanding the deadline system at a magazine (my previous employment was at a business newspaper, Crain’s Chicago Business, where the deadline was always “now!”) and writing in a new style – not to mention learning about new and complex subjects, systems and topics that each publication covers, like on-boarding.
Tasks that might seem daunting and dreadful in your first week on the job might turn out to be routine and painless once assimilated. Others that appear easy might end up being a big pain in the caboose. Only time will tell.
Additionally overwhelming is trying to project my personality to my co-workers without alienating any of them. I am a hard worker and am professional, but I also like to keep things light and have fun. What is the best way for me to show that? Perhaps it was a bad idea to tell everyone about my dead bug collection on the first day?
There have also been some smaller, trivial differences to adjust to, like remembering to bring a key with me to get into the bathroom at my new office. I haven’t had to do that since I had that toilet-paper-mooching roommate back in college.
At any rate, I am excited for the new opportunity. And for all the other new hires out there: be patient. It’s a tough process, but it’s also an exciting one. As the weeks pass by, I will update you with my experiences starting anew. I will also offer interviews with experts in the on-boarding industry, who know far more than I ever will on the subject.
In the meantime, welcome!
Frank Kalman is an associate editor of Talent Management magazine. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he earned his master’s of science degree in Dec. 2010. He is also a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, earning a degree in American history in May 2009. Prior to joining MediaTec, Frank served as an editorial intern for Crain’s Chicago Business, covering commercial and residential real estate for Crain’s real estate spinoff, ChicagoRealEstateDaily. He also covered public finance and commercial banking while a reporter at Medill. Frank can be reached at fkalman@TalentMGT.com.