As the recruitment season comes to an end and that new job is about to begin, it’s time to think about what “success” will look like for your new position. Whether you are returning to the institution that you studied at or it’s a new college/university, it’s important to know that you are only as good as the work you do each day. People observe us at every moment we do our work. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book Blink where he discusses how quickly people form perceptions of us. Being prepared for that first day and the on-boarding process is critical in beginning our professional journey. I think we all need to remind ourselves, this is a very small field and it is only a matter of time that you or I may be interviewing across the table from someone who didn’t bring their best self forward every day in the work we do.
So what does the on-boarding process look like for new employees? Each campus will look and feel different. There should be a mixture of centralized information presented to you by the Human Resources Office supplemented by departmental specific training offerings. Pay attention to “what is expected for success” in the position, a great question to ask supervisors in the first few weeks.
How does one create a good first impression? Be yourself, find commonalities with others, be excited about the new position, share appropriate things about yourself, and connect to why you were hired for the position. Remember, there is no place for negativity (or “we did it this way” at my former institution). You chose the place you will be working, so try and not forget why you wanted to be there.
As you look ahead to your new position, review the policies and protocols within your new department and institution to ensure that you are being consistent and ethical. Additionally, take the time to review the ethical principles in our associations, for both NASPA/ACPA and specialized associations like ACUHO-I (if a housing position). These standards help root us in the expectations our profession has for us in the work we do each day. Your new campus (university/division/departments such as human resources, equal opportunity, general counsel, etc.) will have school-specific information on the expectations of being a successful staff member. Always keep in mind that the old adage, treat people as you would like to be treated, works both ways.
Some other helpful on-boarding hints to consider include:
1. Know what to wear on your first day (ask what the dress culture is for the office)?
2.Show up early on your first day, have pen/paper and all essentials you may need.
3. Review your benefits package carefully – if you can max out your retirement monies, do so!
4. Go over your job description in depth with your supervisor – creating success is your goal.
5. Create new routines in your life (if you weren’t happy with your former routine) – this can include fitness, eating, how you use spare time, how often you check email…
6. Take a physical tour of your campus.
7. Check social media policy of new organization (and update your social media platforms).
8. Introduce yourself to all of the administrative support staff – they will be key to your success.
9. Ask for advice judiciously.
10. Send a thank you note to your mentors and references for supporting you in securing this new job.
New jobs are a reflection of what you have accomplished thus far in your life, so make the most out of the place that you’ll spend 40-50% of your waking hours – make them count! Best of luck.