Getting Over Newbie Nerves: Starting at a New Company

by Joe Brown

My first days at work at a new company are usually ridiculously daunting; fear of the unknown, not being fully aware of what’s expected of me and whether or not I’ll get on with the rest of the team typically weigh heavy on my mind and usually get in the way of me appreciating this exciting new venture.

When starting at designdough, I was shocked to realise that my first day jitters were replaced with excitement and an enthusiasm to get stuck in – not just because I had been given an opportunity to work for a company I’d religiously web-stalked for months (!), but because of the way my first few days were laid out for me. Even at the meeting where I signed my contract, I was told what I’d be working on during my first two days; a team exercise comprising of completely breaking down designdough’s business and processes with the view to seeing how we can improve as a whole. Having this foresight meant I spent the weekend thinking of new ideas; ways in which I could help and add value to the business. I hadn’t even started yet and I was personally invested in everything designdough!

My first two days brought the whole team on to the same level and together, we were able to build something that felt NEW and FRESH, not so much a matter of re-inventing the wheel, but crafting something I was a part of and felt informed enough to contribute to.

Being visual creatures, this whole process was recorded in bullet-points, scribbles and doodles on a giant roll of paper so we could track progress – I’m now two and a half weeks in and I’m still referring back to that roll of paper. It’s like my own personal designdough handbook in scroll-form (an added bonus, as when reading it I feel like I’m a character in Game of Thrones)!

Having gone through that extensive process together, socialising and finding common ground with my new colleagues was easy. At designdough, downtime generally involves playing a game of pool. For me, this was more of an exercise in public humiliation as I have the hand-eye coordination of a small child and so proceeded to slip with the cue, completely miss the white ball and needless to say, NOT POT ANYTHING! Although embarrassing (why couldn’t I have been a part-time pool champion!?), this really helped me bond with the team. I tended to enter new jobs with my ‘armour’ up, feeling that I should project a certain level of self-confidence and professionalism in order to impress, yet I truly believe that socializing in this way (i.e. taking work out of the equation and focussing on fun, even for a short time) helped me to feel confident and comfortable with everyone from that first day onwards.

Entering in to my new job having assessed my wants and needs and ready to communicate these to the team definitely set me ahead in the settling-in stakes. I ask questions and don’t fear ‘being annoying’ or ‘a nuisance’; as our director, Joe said to me on my first day; “There are no stupid questions!” I’ve been empowered to challenge current processes if I feel I have a way to improve them, and want to keep striving for progress, not perfection. I’m truly excited for what will unfold in the next few months (and hopefully I’ll improve at pool!)