By: Revanche

Employment: the first month

May 5, 2010

I have been gainfully employed for one full month since the Long Layoff of Ought-nine through Ten.

“How does it feel, Revanche, to be a fully contributing member of society again?”
“What does that even mean? I’m exhausted, I’ve worked my toes off and frankly, I’m surprised that I’m still alive!”

Ah yes, welcome back to the American workplace, indeed.

I’d mentioned before that I work with workaholics. Idealists with a vision. Idealistic businesspeople who aren’t naive so much as complete fire-eaters with very little need to connect to human limitations.  What I’m saying is it’s hard to keep up with them, much less excel and shine in the manner in which I’m accustomed. (Grump, much?)  Still and all, they’re good eggs and I’m exaggerating at least a little.

It’s been kind of a rollercoaster.

Work like a swan on water: Look smooth up top, but paddle like hell underwater.
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass me by.

It’s been long enough since starting my last job that I’d forgotten how much harder it would be to start a new role with the management responsibilities I’d earned over time after starting at the bottom. I assumed that my skills were applicable across the board, which they are, and completely discounted the degree of social buy-in that’s necessary to fully engage, productively, with a new team.  Oh and learning an entirely new culture and system, let’s not forget that.  

When you’re hired in at entry-level, people are pretty happy if you’re only sort of socialized and relieved if you’re not an utter mess. They are, however, not surprised if you fail at either or both. The attitude is frequently that the “first job out of college” is a significant benchmark: the fresh-minted new grad or the fresh to the workforce babe-in-arms can be readily excused just about anything.

When you’ve hired yourself out to the highest bidder as an experienced and seasoned veteran of the work trenches, however, it’s an entirely different story. You have to, as they like to say, “hit the ground running” and be prepared to contribute as a fully functioning member of the team in many capacities: facilitator, communicator, politician.  This is not an unreasonable expectation.

What’s even better is when you’ve taken on direct reports. You really have to maintain composure because frankly, who can really respect someone they’ve yet to take the measure of who appears to be a basket-case? You can excuse the long-time boss’s befrazzlement to some degree, he or she has presumably long since earned both formal and informal authority.

It doesn’t *feel* professionally acceptable to look frazzled and confused after your first two weeks – a seasoned professional should have absorbed all the relevant details and adapted by then, no? I can almost hear Gunny Highway barking at me: “You adapt. You overcome. You improvise. Let’s move.”

I’m adapting. I’m overcoming (bit by bit). I’m improving. Let’s move.

6 Responses to “Employment: the first month”

  1. Congrats on surviving your first month 🙂 Is the job everything you hoped it would be?

  2. Sorry that is has been overwhelming…I haven’t had a new job since I got this one out of college, but I remember the 3-6 months of on-the-job training that made me think I was mentally deficient in some way.

    Good luck on your next month!

  3. cat says:

    Right now, I just got promoted from my entry level position to the next level. Woohoo. But coming in as a fresh grad, I definitely felt that the expectations of me was just to survive and keep swimming 🙂

  4. L.A. Daze says:

    Yay on surviving your first month! I’m sure you kick butt and look great while doing it!

  5. eemusings says:

    One month down! It will only get easier.

    I bitch and moan about being underappreciated, but to be honest, at least I’m getting to learn, and take on more responsibility, without as much of the risk – because I don’t have the official title and really am still a new grad.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations, hope the swan like serenity continues!
    One of my former bosses said that it takes at least 6 months to truly settle into a job. Especially if you’ve hit the ground running… the odd bit of protocol does get overlooked now and again!
    (And the $5000 challenge… wow. Good luck with that!)

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