The Twenty-Something Series: Settling into a new placement at work

I've had an unsettled few months, but now I've switched to a new placement in work and I'm loving it!

I've been pretty MIA lately, but it's been a weird couple of months.

My job is a rotational graduate scheme, which means I do a new placement in a new area of IT every few months. March saw the end of my six months in lovely (and persistently snowy) Durham and the start of a new placement in Swindon for six months.

I had a chaotic move from Durham. 

You remember the Beast from the East, right? All the disruption that caused? It completely threw off all my plans for moving, meaning I had one day to dash to the office to say thanks yous and goodbyes, throw everything into my car, clean the flat, hand the key in, and make the six-hour drive home (instead of the two/three days I had planned out). 

I couldn't move into my new flat as planned because of the snow, too - and when I did, I didn't have all the IKEA furniture my parents had picked up ready for my new flat. (Honestly, spending the week on a deflating airbed and then a too-small sofa was not ideal, but it did give me a funny story for the first few days at work.)

Even without that madness, moving was pretty stressful.

It was a very different sort of stress to moving out of home for the first time. This was much more organisational stress. Final electricity meter read, changing the address on my car insurance, shelling out a deposit while figuring out how to get the old one back... Not my idea of fun.

I was sad to say goodbye to Durham, especially my beautiful little flat there. I was apprehensive about switching placement, too, because I'd enjoyed what I was doing before - and was disappointed I wouldn't be able to see a few projects through to the end.

And it was weird, to start all over again as the newbie when... I wasn't a newbie? 

I'd been with the company six months, but all of a sudden I felt back to square one, with no idea what was really going on in the team or what abbreviations meant, what certain terms were, who everyone was. 

Frankly, it was bizarre.

I'm just over a month into placement here at Swindon now and actually enjoy this placement so much more than the last. 

In my last placement my team were across the country, I found the office generally quite quiet and I worked a lot from home. This office is the complete opposite: I have a team around me, it's always busy and there are always people to talk to, and I've not wanted to work from home - I don't want to miss out on anything.

Plus, I find that the routine and structure of actually going into the office really helps me.

I'm staying longer at the office than I did at my last placement which is a little tiring some days, but I don't work that time because I feel obligated to. I'm just enjoying the work so much more - plus, I have a bunch of 'extra-curricular' projects at work I'm having a lot of fun with. (We've set up an internal women's network, I'm volunteering for some charity events and there are a bunch of onboarding activities for the new graduates I'm getting involved in too.)

At this point, it's probably good to mention that this is a world away from where I was last year: in a job I didn't want, miserable as heck, counting down my days in the office because I'd handed in my notice and couldn't wait to leave.

I loved my job during my last placement. I love it even more now. Taking this job was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

(Not least because at our last graduate development day, we did an exercise about negotiating, and following that I managed to get us into a pub quiz for half price.)

Despite the disconcerting start to this placement and the up-in-the-air way I left my last one, I'm feeling much more settled now, and excited about what the next five months will hold!

To wrap up this post, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice I've found useful when switching placements and starting in a new role.

  • Don't be afraid to ask the stupid questions - if you don't know, ask for clarification!
  • Ask to get involved in meetings (even if you don't get what's going on for a while)
  • Make notes in meetings. All the notes. You'll have so many questions and it's hard to take everything in - going back over your notes help you digest it.
  • Ask people what they do. People will have different roles on your team, and you'll likely work with people in different teams you're not familiar with. It helps build a picture up and give you context to just ask, and mostly people are pretty happy to talk about this sort of stuff!
  • Don't be afraid to take on new projects, even if they don't make sense to you just yet. You're new, and can ask your team for support; but I find you learn best by just having a go.

What advice do you have when you start a new role, or what do you find is the biggest challenge? Let me know in the comments!

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