Getting off to a good start

 

At the start line

I can hardly believe the start of the new academic year is already well underway. The noise as new voices fill the corridors and the canteens, the sense of excitement, the vague looks on faces as people try to find their way around a new place…

If you are a new starter – whether you that means new to this role or new to the organisation – you may be feeling a potent mixture of excitement and overwhelm. There is so much new knowledge to be gained alongside the mundane setting up of new accommodation, paying the bills, registering with the services needed to make life run smoothly.

So what can make this settling in process run more smoothly or pass more quickly?

  • Accept that things will feel new, different, even strange.
    When starting something new, most people become acutely aware of what they don’t know. This feeling of “conscious incompetence” is often uncomfortable but remember, it is normal. It will pass as you settle in. Don’t think there’s something wrong with you, it’s all a part of the process.
  • Ask questions, honestly, openly, respectfully.
    You will learn much more quickly if you ask. People who have been in place for a long time often forget just how much knowledge we take for granted. If you don’t know, don’t understand or need more context, simply ask.
  • Begin to make social connections.
    Social networks are really important, personally and professionally. Even if you’re  a committed introvert it is worth making the effort to develop social networks. At a simple level join people for coffee or lunch breaks. Look out for opportunities to socialise. You don’t need to take them all but make the effort to connect.
  • Balance work and play.
    You might enter this phase thinking that hard work will make all the difference and be tempted to stay long and late, missing break times and impressing your boss with your “can do” attitude. WHile diligent work is important, balance is equally important – “start as you mean to go on” is a good thing to bear in mind. If you’re in this role for the long term, make it sustainable and enjoyable as well as productive.

For new PhD students can I recommend a collection of resources compiled by the Times Higher Education magazine: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/carousels/essential-phd-tips-10-articles-all-doctoral-students-should-read

These new days will quickly pass so take the time to enjoy the novelty, learn new lessons and reflect on what helps you to grow and mature in your new role most quickly.

 

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