You got the job! Now what?….You are the FNG at work, and you are in a new environment. Switch has some DOs and DON’Ts for your first weeks on the job:
- Don’t Tell War Stories Unless Asked. You had incredible experiences in the military and have funny, scary, or intriguing stories to show for it! Your new coworkers may be interested, but avoid initiating conversations or repeatedly bringing up your military stories. Find other topics for small-talk. When they ask you to share stories, share one that’s meaningful and brief. Don’t talk their ears off! I can easily drone on telling one of my sea stories and not even realize it. Just be aware that if your conversations with coworkers focus on your military experiences, you may leave an impression that you are not embracing your new future.
- Do Get Smart. In the military you assumed a role with little (sometimes no) background, got spun up, and executed the mission. The corporate world is no different. Read corporate materials, briefings, manuals – anything to get a sense of how your office and the larger company operates. Pick up some books focused on your industry or specific functional skills you will be performing. This may teach you some of the common practices and language. Also, find out your manager’s performance expectations and the requirements for promotion. In many instance, it will not be as clear cut as in the military- throw time in grade and rating exams out the window.
- Don’t Be Too Aggressive. “Wait a minute?! You just told me to get smart and take initiative to learn the new job.” That’s right – be proactive and learn as much as possible. But, it’s important to listen more than speak and don’t feel like you need to provide comments and feedback on everything.
- Do Find Mentors. Especially in a large organization it can be difficult to navigate the bureaucracy without a guide. Yes – even the corporate world has some red tape. Consider a functional mentor (job skills/performance) and professional mentor (how to succeed in the company/professional development advice). An external mentor is also a must! It’s always great to have an external perspective from someone with no conflict of interest. Check out American Corporate Partners (ACP)! It’s great to have a vet as one of your mentors, but make sure you have one who is not a vet; getting advice from multiple perspectives is key!
- Do Make a Solid First Impression. Be early to work and meetings (the 10 min early rule still applies in the corporate world). Learn the names of the people you’ll work with, as well as those in your management chain and the key leaders in the organization. Grab lunch or get coffee with other employees to get to know them better. They’ll help you learn about the corporate culture, and it’ll be a great way to build your network.
- Don’t Miss Out on the Fun! It’s easy to push work happy hours, softball games, or even grabbing coffee with a coworker. Don’t! Decline social opportunities on a regular basis and chances are you will be left out of the loop in the future. Social activities are great ways to meet build relationships and network outside of your team. It’s also an effective way for your coworkers to see a more lighthearted side of you.
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