This article was first published in May 2013
Zooey Deschanel should be done for false advertising the position of New Girl. It’s nothing like an episode of her ‘adorkable’ sitcom. How do I know? I’ve recently taken on the title in IMAGE HQ.
Here’s a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, which might help make your transition into a new workplace as smooth as Galaxy chocolate. The truth is being the new girl isn’t much fun. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or whether or not your new workplace is paved in gold. [In the interests of full disclosure: IMAGE is not paved in gold. It’s not even paved in sterling silver. It is, in fact, paved in an off-navy/grey carpet]
Being the new girl means that for a time, a short time albeit, you know nothing. Forget all those years of work experience, college degrees, Leaving Cert results, Brownie badges, etc, etc you still know nothing. You don’t even know the most basic things like where to find the bathroom. You don’t know how to turn on the printer or how to answer the phone. All in all, it’s like the first day at big school (minus the brand new sparkly pencil case).
Newbies are big novelties so, not only do you have to get used to learning about your new surroundings, colleagues and job itself, but you also have to adjust to several quick-fire question rounds where there’s just the one specialist subject: You. Thankfully, the newbie novelty is short-lived, but it can be a demanding role where new colleagues want to know everything about you.
Even if you want to make a good impression and show how dedicated you are, don’t try to work late your first day. Day One is the equivalent to a week of work, and you’ll need your rest unless you want to arrive on Day Two with matchsticks prising your eyelids open and a caffeine drip strapped to your arm. Not a good look on anyone. Speaking of caffeine, accept all offers of coffee in those early days. Even if you don’t drink coffee. Not only will the stimulant keep you going, but each cup is effectively an offer of friendship, which no new employee can afford to turn down. Cuppas give you a chance to bond with colleagues. There’s nothing like a natter over a cup of Joe to discover a mutual (and inexplicable) love for Made In Chelsea. This can come in surprisingly handy when you need someone to have your back in the boardroom.
First impressions count. You’ve been hired for your knowledge and expertise so don’t be afraid to offer your opinion, but best to avoid telling the CEO she’s out-of-her-mind wrong until your trial period is up. Even then, it’s probably best to hold your tongue or at the very least sugarcoat it. Avoid, too, trying to make a style statement in your first few days. There will be plenty of time to showcase your office style. Week One is not the time to spring out the playsuit or gold lamé bomber jacket. Save those for casual Friday.
Remember to enjoy the early days. Like the first flush of romance, your position as New Girl is fleeting. Soon you’ll be part of the office furniture, expected to work just as hard as everyone else and know the answers to questions about topics other than yourself. And that’s when the fun really starts…