After a year: reflections on the job transition process

Author: Morgan Hanson

This week, I have been thinking about (and sometimes wincing from!) the growing pains of the first year in a new job. As I new professional in the student affairs field, I have been through this transition process only twice thus far, but as I was mulling over this last year of work and thinking toward the many goals I have for next year, I decided to take some time to really think about what I had learned—in  a broad sense—from my transition years. Below is a list of the most helpful things I have learned to do/not do when starting a new job; my goal in sharing them is that, no matter where you are in your professional journey, you find them useful (or at the very least just relatable).

  1. Spend time really reading all of the transition materials that you are given—if you are fortunate enough to have been given them.

  2. Take lots of notes during your onboarding! It is so easy to get overwhelmed (read: incredibly bored) during these sessions, but this time will be better spent if you take notes.

  3. As a next step, write down questions that you have as you think of them. Word to the wise on this one: make sure your questions haven’t already been answered—read and re-read those notes and transition materials!

  4. Try really hard to learn and remember the names of not just those in your own department or unit, but other campus colleagues as well. I personally really struggle with this, but doing so builds your resource network so much more quickly.

  5. When you get invited to meet-and-greets or faculty/staff social events, go to them. Even if you are an introvert and you hate them and they are exhausting, you should still go (and know that literally half of the people there feel the same way you do but they’re all being good sports too).

  6. Finally, the last and most humbling lesson I have learned is that during the first year in a new job, you’re probably going to make some pretty rookie mistakes. You won’t always live up to your own expectations. So, when this happens, there are three things you should do: (1) acknowledge the mistake to yourself; (2) share the mistake, along with your solution to it, with your boss; and (3) MOVE ON. That last one is always the hardest for me, but to survive you must learn to do it!