Being the "newbie" at work

Friday, January 4, 2013

WARNING – this post is long, but each story is TOTALLY worth it. Hope you all enjoy!
At some point in time, each and every one of us has been the “newbie” in the work place. On a general level I would not call myself shy – I think I’m pretty outgoing, easy to get along with and have a sense of humor which I feel like is the first thing most co-workers recognize. But despite all that “courage” and “confidence” that I show, the first week is always the toughest.
So here I am, my first week complete at The Merion Cricket Club and being the newbie sure is rough. The job itself I am already comfortable with and I feel like my boss already trusts me being that she is piling me up with work and projects. My direct boss has been awesome so far! She’s always introducing me to everyone and taking me all over the complex. However, on Thursday afternoon at lunch, I had my sense of “holy crap, I’m the new kid!!” Every day at Merion, all of the staff members get free lunch. Like cattle at 11 a.m. we run down to the lunch room where we have a buffet style of food (different items each day: salad, chicken, beef – TASTY stuff!!) and we all sit at these old wooden tables in this tiny room. On Thursday, my boss packed lunch so I knew I was on my own for lunch. I walk down, grab my plate and fill it up. Entering into the room where we sit down and eat I did a quick peek at if any seats we open. ::Crap, there is one chair open with a whole table of guys. Maybe I’ll just go eat in my office.:: With my back faced to everyone eating and me filling up my fountain soda I told myself “Amanda, put on your big girl panties and turn around and find someone to sit with.” ::oohhh man, here goes nothing:: As I turn I see a table for two – Brent, one of the maintenance  guys whos name I have actually remembered (maybe because we had a funny joke the first day we met) was there with an empty seat. I asked ‘May I?’ Thursday’s lunch ended up being quite pleasant as Brent and I shared stories and I was able to learn about his family, his three kids and the three jobs he currently has to help his family get by (especially with two kids in college.) It’s going to take lots of days to make friends and learn everyone’s names, but that is not going to happen if I sit and eat at my desk every day. Just like dating, I guess you have to put yourself out there, right??
 I asked friends to share stories of their “first day of work” experiences and here are two great stories (they may even make you say, 'wow, and I thought MY first day was bad!!!') Thank you so much Julie and Jen for sharing!! 
Here is Julie’s story:
It was one of the biggest days of my college career, my first day of student teaching. I couldn't wait to meet my new first graders and mold their little minds. I laid out my favorite "Professional" outfit the night before and woke up extra early to beat traffic and impress my future coworkers with my punctuality. Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the most mortifying days of my life. I walked into the building and was greeted by the secretary The principal was at a meeting downtown but it wasn't long until I would get to meet him. The secretary showed me around the school like any typical employee's first day at a new job. It was a small single hallway school so everyone was very close with one another and I was excited to have a chance to join their "family". Our last stop was the first grade classroom I was assigned to. The class stopped what they were doing and my cooperating teacher introduced me as their new student teacher. The kids instantly came up and hugged me and welcomed me with their little open arms. I loved the school already. As the class continued with their work, I sat in the back of the room with my new cooperating teacher and we discussed the curriculum. That was when it all went downhill. I started to feel really warm, like sweat was dripping from my forehead but when I went to wipe my face their was nothing there. Then the tunnel vision came. I could no longer see who I was talking to let alone my surroundings. I started to panic inside but pretended like nothing was wrong in order to keep that "professionalism" that is expected. Then the nausea hit me. I couldn't believe it, I was about to get sick in front of the lady who held my future in her hands. It was too much to handle, I stood up and politely told her "I'm so sorry but I am not feeling well" and ran for the door. The next thing I knew I was waking up to the secretary, 22 first graders, my cooperating teacher and paramedics at my side. Little did I know the older grades were walking to lunch pushing each other to get a glimpse of the "newbie" who needed medical care. I cannot even describe how embarrassed I was. I started crying and apologizing over and over again. Of course they assured me there was nothing to be sorry about but I knew this would be the talk of the school. There was a knock at the door and two men in suits entered the room. They knelt down and held out their hands and introduced themselves as the principal and superintendent. That was the icing on the cake. The principal and superintendent had to leave their meeting downtown to make sure this stranger in their school was ok for insurance purposes and of course their own personal curiosity and concern. Again, they assured me I had nothing to worry about and they were just happy I was ok At this point I wanted to crawl into a ball and disappear. I laid on the carpet of my new first grade classroom for about an hour because I couldn't move. I thought it was because of how embarrassed I was but really it was the big gash in my head from when I hit the floor. My boyfriend at the time ended up coming to my rescue and taking me to the hospital. I still cringe thinking about that awful day but I know I made a lasting impression on that school. In the end I left that student teaching placement with straight A's and outstanding references from both my cooperating teacher and the principal. My "what's the worst that could happen" story became one that my college professors told other prospective student teachers to help ease their nerves on the first day. Even though it was the most embarrassing day I am proud of myself for going back for my second day. It just goes to show that no matter how horrible the situation, you just have to pick yourself up and hold your head high.

Here is Jen's story:
After graduating from college, I worked at a community weekly paper for a few months before landing a job at a bigger daily paper. I was the youngest reporter on staff and the only woman, so I felt a lot of pressure to prove myself. On my first day, I was sent to cover a school board meeting, which was held in a school library. I had the agenda, but I didn't know what was going on, I couldn't tell if anything that was happening was newsworthy, and I didn't even know what a school board really was. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, Who are these people?  I was clueless about a lot of things. A few months later, I remember working on a Sunday and having to call the county district attorney at home, and I called him "your honor," thinking he was a judge. I had a lot to learn. After the school board meeting ended, I went into the bathroom at the school, locked myself in a stall and cried. I was so frustrated. But I had this really important moment of clarity in which I told myself that this going to be the hardest day that I will have as a reporter. Everything after this would be okay. I tried not to be too hard on myself, because I knew I would learn and grow and figure things out. That was more than 10 years ago. Since then, I've covered crime and I've worked at a magazine, and now I'm covering education at the sister paper of the one where I got my start. The field of education is so new to me -- there's so much jargon and so many concepts that are unfamiliar. After being on the beat for about a month, I met with a group of administrators for a story, and I was so perplexed because they were using acronyms and taking to me as if I were an educator. I needed to be able to understand what they were saying enough so that I could explain it to readers, and I was again feeling lost, just like I did back on my first day of my daily newspaper career. Instead of crying this time, I laughed. I asked them to back up, and explain it to me like I'm a fourth grader, and they laughed too. I can't say I grasped everything, but I understood enough. More importantly, I didn't worry, because my worst day was already behind me.
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