April 24th marked a milestone day for me – the start of a new job. As many folks know, starting a new job is tumultuous; learning new names, faces, protocols and places; discovering the bureaucracies and workplace politics. Through a baptism by fire, I learned some valuable lessons about transitioning from one to job to another.
1. The world is small.
This is an essential truth for every industry - certainly not exclusive to job transitioning. While your place of employment may be temporal, personal relationships and first impressions can last a lifetime. It’s important to show gratitude and compassion when making that transition; onboarding and off-boarding are difficult tasks, even for the most resourceful shops.
2. Take advantage of starting over.
Even though job transitions often indicate upward mobility, in many ways I was starting over. Upon starting my new job, I decided to take advantage of the new chapter in my life and set some unique, personal goals; my first goal - go paperless.
I started using Google Docs for all of my note taking – and I mean all of it. I decided to take my laptop everywhere and write down everything. That way at the end of the day, I have anywhere from one to ten pages of notes to sift through. This is a very effective way of capturing my day to day workload and responsibilities. Not only are my notes legible and robust, but they’re stored in the cloud. Take advantage of starting over to make bold, new choices about your work style, ethic, and goals.
3. Financially prepare.
Job transitioning is a lot like moving – it’s expensive. If you discover that your old and new jobs operate on different payroll schedules, you might find yourself in the position I was in - going five weeks without a paycheck. Let this be another reason to procure and effectively manage a savings account for those who do not already – it can make or break your independence.
4. Become an ambassador before your first day.
Every institution loves when their employees serve as ambassadors and stewards of the mission and brand. Demonstrate your excitement and investment through learning everything you possibly can about the organization (although, it’s important to do as much of this before you even interview for the job - demonstrating your research in the interview process is essential). Having a succinct and thoughtful elevator speech about where you work and what you do only bolsters the brand and enhances the value of your organization's mission.
5. Ask for help.
Finally, know your weaknesses, when to ask for help, and who to ask. I quickly realized I was asking a lot of questions and almost just as quickly became anxious about my seemingly endless inquiries. DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU. I repeat; DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU. If the team you have recently joined understands anything about starting a new job, they will certainly expect an onslaught of questions; and better yet, they’ll appreciate them.
But most importantly, connect with your network of peers across the sector and build friendships with those who can support you. My YNPN friends are some of my closest allies and biggest support in the industry - shout out to those cool cats. If you’re not a member, join immediately! It was one of the best career decisions I ever made. And hey, you might find yourself right where I am - writing YNPN blog posts and falling more and more in love with the nonprofit world.
Blog Contributor: Cassidy Flynn, Stewardship Officer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and YNPN St. Louis Board Member.