Starting a new job is always tough. On top of all the tasks and procedures you have to learn, there’s the stress of not knowing anyone and wondering how (or even if) you’re going to fit in. It’s like being the new kid at school all over again.
How can you tell when you’re starting to find your place and settle into a rhythm? In a terrific Daily Muse post titled “5 Small Work Victories That Are Worth Celebrating When You’re New at a Job,” writer Katie Douthwaite highlights some of the tiny milestones that prove you’re on your way to the comfort zone.
Douthwaite’s first little victory is finishing an assignment without asking for help. This doesn’t even have to be a major project. It can be something as simple as submitting an expense report or figuring out where the company keeps the printer paper. New hires are notorious for asking questions about everything, and the sooner you can start doing things on your own, the sooner other will see you as part of the team.
Next up, Douthwaite says you should give yourself a pat on the back the first time you find yourself uttering the phrase, “Where does the time go?” That means you’ve been so busy and engrossed in your work that you’ve neglected to look at your watch. That also means you’ve gotten past that point where the hours drag and the stomach-churning feelings of apprehension and self-doubt that come with being a new hire make the seconds feel like hours.
Even when you’re too enthralled by your work to constantly check the clock, you’re liable to make mistakes. It’s only natural when you’re learning the ropes. Once you’re able to move on after a snafu, Douthwaite says, it’s another key sign you’re headed in the right direction. Being able to rebound gracefully after a gaff, she writes, shows you’re “confident in your role and your place in the organization.”
Eventually, there will come a day when you won’t make a ton of rookie mistakes, and you’ll “enjoy a work day from start to finish.” That’s the next on Douthwaite’s list, and while she acknowledges that it won’t happen often, that rare type of day when you collaborate with your colleagues, overcome challenges, and go home feeling proud of your accomplishments is a day you should cherish.
Finally, there’s “taking a new employee under your wing” — a surefire sign you’ve graduated from “new kid” to “old pro,” or at least “slightly less new kid.” When someone joins the team after you, and you’re able to start answering questions instead of asking them, you’ll know you’ve arrived. Just remember to be nice to the new person; they’re walking the same treacherous path you’ve only just veered off.