6 things I’ve learned in my new job

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This is a pretty personal post.

All my posts come from personal experience and opinions, but this one isn’t like that.

This isn’t about fundraising or philanthropy.

This is about my new job. 

Have you started a new job recently? Are you thinking of starting one? It’s not for the faint of heart, is it?

If you read my post on direct response best practices, or you follow me on Twitter, then you know I love my new gig! But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been challenging.

We’ve all been where I am: somewhere between loving life and feeling way out of your comfort zone. The important thing is to tune into the lessons you’re learning along the way. And in case they might be helpful to you, I thought it was worth sharing my lessons.

#1 — Show up every day, smiling & ready to work

This simple thing cannot be understated. It’s great advice that I received from my old boss when I started my current job. I was feeling a little insecure in my second week and she said, “Every day you show up smiling and ready to work, the people who hired you are seeing the return on their investment.” You can’t know everything right away, but you can show everyone that you’re trying.

#2 — Get comfortable being uncomfortable

This was – and is – my biggest challenge. I’m the type of person who wants to be the best! I don’t care how that sounds, it’s just the truth. But when you start a job, you’re not the best. You’re new. Embrace it. Because when you do, you can physically feel learning and growth happen. If you fight it, it’ll take you longer to get where you want to be.

#3 — Be flexible

Something that will help you do that is to be flexible. Don’t expect to know everything right away and be flexible in the ways you get there. For example, even the ways in which you organize yourself! My new job requires organization like I’ve never experienced before and I’ve already tried my hand at 3+ methods in my first three months. Each tweak makes things a bit better. I don’t know if I’ve gotten there yet, but I try to adapt and modify and be flexible, and it seems to help.

#4 — Mentally prepare & protect yourself

This one is crucial. I read this awesome series called My Morning Routine and one person they interviewed recently (I wish I could share an exact quote, but I can’t find it!) talked about how we push too many things to the evening. We sleep, we work, and then – if we have time – we do something for ourselves in the evening. This person’s routine was all about mentally preparing and protecting herself in the morning for the stress of the day. I love that, and that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate into my life with this new job. I get up early, I work out as many mornings during the week as I can handle, I always take at least 30 minutes for coffee and a healthy breakfast (usually an hour), and I leave to work early enough that I avoid traffic and arrive before most of my colleagues so I can gather myself together before all the work begins. It’s a way of preparing a shield against the craziness to come, and it works!

#5 — Don’t spread yourself too thin

If your new job is accompanied by a move to a new city like mine was, you might be tempted to get involved with new things or struggle to keep up old things (I’m talking volunteering, board membership, that sort of thing). Be careful here. I think we’ve all got to have something outside of work to be involved with, but I’ve been trying to streamline my “extracurriculars” since I’m committed to work and don’t want to get overwhelmed. I unfortunately had to drop one thing I’m involved with, and I’ve had to say no to a few others, but I’m also keeping up a few that I’m currently involved with, too! I don’t want life to be only work, but I also don’t want there to be too much on my plate right now.

#6 — SPEAK UP!

All of this is stuff YOU can do, but sometimes you might need something from your new employer, and that’s okay, too. Are you feeling like you were onboarded well? Did you get good training and orientation? No? Well don’t sit around feeling overwhelmed; tell someone! Be honest about what you need, what you’re missing, etc. Everyone’s busy so getting a new hire doesn’t mean the work stops, but they do owe it to you to bring you up to speed. It’s nice if you don’t have to ask them, but if you need to, DO! Your success is up to you!

Good luck!

P.S. I’m launching an e-book on Mid-Level Giving! Want to be the first to get it? Sign up for my newsletter! Click here to sign up!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
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2 thoughts on “6 things I’ve learned in my new job

  1. smart AND wise maeve
    i especially endorse the part about doing your mornings right before you head for the office – wait until your my age and you’ll REALLY get it!
    keep up the good works!

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