Friday, December 03, 2004

Reflections on the First Week of a New Job

Okay, I'll admit it. The second thoughts didn't wholly stop the minute I parked my car in front of the new place on Monday morning and went inside for the first time as an employee. They continued to rage on for a good portion of the week. As recently as Wednesday I was prepared to say I didn't like the new job, and I did have serious thoughts of trying to get my old job back.

As the week progressed, however, those thoughts melted away. I do still have some concerns about the financial situation that will be caused by the pay cut and reduction in hours, but I'll address that as it becomes necessary. In other respects, it's becoming more and more clear that taking this job was the right thing to do.

The thing I was most excited about in accepting this job was the chance to work with words once again. I'm doing that, and I'm liking it. Granted, this is not my dream job, nor even my dream editing job. The proofreading I do isn't even mostly made up of prose, and some aspects of it are incredibly tedious. Still, I'm extremely happy to be able to lend my considerable editing skills to an organization. I see typographical errors and grammatical mistakes all the time in professional publications, and it bothers me. More, I take it almost as a personal offense. I see it as sloppy and inexcusable. I can play a large role in making sure that errors of that nature are at an absolute minimum in this company's publications, and I'm proud of that.

This is a job that I know I can do. As you can tell, I'm supremely confident in my proofreading skills, and that leads to a very confident feeling when I go to work each day. When I started doing the purchasing at my last job, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I had no one to train me. I had to learn the whole job basically on my own. I did it for over two years, and after a certain period of growth, I even got to a point where I was pretty good at it. However, situations still came up fairly frequently that made me feel like I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I just had to muddle through and hope for the best, never knowing how it would turn out. That made for some uncomfortable feelings sometimes during the morning commute. I don't expect to have that with this job. I'm sure difficult situations will come up, but I feel secure enough in my skills that I can get things done right.

It has definitely been an interesting week. I'm still trying to find my way in certain areas. I do know the names of everyone in my department, so that's good. People are slowly starting to talk to me not just as "the new guy" but as a real person. People I haven't met are coming up and introducing themselves. I haven't made any friends yet per se, but that will come in time. About 130 people work there, so I'm bound to find one or two that I can chat with on occasion. That's all I want, really.

I was a little put off on my first day because the only person that really talked to me was the lady who "trained" me, and no one else really made an effort. I found out later that the last person they hired in my position didn't bother to show up beyond the first day, so I think that may have had something to do with it. When I showed up on the second day, and each subsequent day, I think they're becoming more comfortable with the thought that I'm going to stick around. Yesterday I got my own login for my computer and I was given a company e-mail address, and I also got to speak at a departmental meeting. While I don't have friends yet, I am coming to feel like an accepted part of the department, and that's good. When I was offered the job, the ladies I was talking to (one from Human Resources, one from my department) both talked about this being a great place to work and what a family atmosphere there is. I haven't totally seen it, but I think I'm beginning to. I'm not fully a part of it yet, but I think I can be if I decide to embrace it.

At the meeting yesterday, I was asked by the department head how things were going for me so far. I answered, honestly, that I was pretty much dropped into the wilderness and left to find my own way, but that I preferred to operate that way and that I was coming along just fine. The actual verbiage I used was that I had been "thrown into the fire," since catalog deadlines are coming up and I came in and started proofreading from day one. This is the busy time for our department, and everyone is extremely busy. I think they appreciated it when I said I had been thrown into the fire, because I think they feel that way themselves. For myself, I don't feel any pressure. Everyone is working feverishly to get things done, but the main problem I've had is keeping myself at a slow enough pace to let everyone keep up with me, despite the fact that I've just started. If this is as keyed up as things get, I'm going to be fine. Now, I know that as I learn more about how things work, I'll be busier. Still, when it gets down to crunch time next month, I know I'll be able to keep up with no real problem.

This job reminds me so much of the time I spent editing catalogs and such at Spring Hill. That's a good thing, because I liked that job a whole lot. I was a lot busier there, to the point where I did stress out a little bit sometimes, but I had more stuff going on. In addition to editing, I also had some writing responsibilities, and I maintained a printing schedule for instructional guides, along with plenty of miscellaneous duties. I'm sure I'll get there with this job eventually. One major difference is that when I started at Spring Hill, I came in with a group of people that were creating an entirely new department. In that situation, I got to help create the direction of the group, and I had a major say in the description and scope of my own job. That was awesome. Right now, I'm trying to fit myself into a well established position and just trying to find the boundaries.

I think things will continue to get better next week as I feel more comfortable and make the job my own. The deadline for both catalogs we're currently working on is Wednesday, and a number of people in my department are working tomorrow, so there should be plenty of work waiting in my basket when I get there on Monday. When Wednesday's deadline has passed, I've been promised that I'll start to learn more tasks, so I'm looking forward to that. I think it'll be a while before this job feels like a routine, and I'm glad that it'll keep me interested. That probably means you'll have to continue to read about it, but at least it'll be a diversion from the sports stuff I also write about frequently.

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