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Three Career-Changing Perspective Shifts When Preparing to Start A New Job

Published 4/29/2019

One of the scariest things we can encounter is starting new jobs. In today's episode, we're talking about alternative perspectives to your first 30, 60 and 90 days at a new job.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
New jobs are exciting to say the least. If you have an offer in hand and you accept a new job, maybe you get a raise and you change your team and maybe you start doing something that you enjoy more than you were doing, it can be very exciting, but it can also be challenging. How can you ensure that the first 30 or 90 or even 180 days at your new job is as successful as it can be? As with most things that we talk about on this show, I believe this starts with perspective, with your way of filtering information, your way of understanding your position and where you are, in light of where you're headed. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea and this show exists to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective and purpose in your career. One of the hardest things that you can do in your career is venture into an unknown territory. If you start a new job, especially if you have new job requirements, you never held a position like this before, maybe you're a junior developer and this is the first development job that you've ever had. It can be a little bit daunting. We have some kind of built-in perspectives that we need to rewire and we're going to talk about three of those perspectives today and I'm going to give you alternative perspectives that can help you think about your first 30 or 60, 180 days. However long that kind of onboarding period and getting used to your new job, help you think about that period a little bit differently. The first kind of incorrect perspective that is difficult to fix but is also incredibly important both to you and to whoever your employer is is that you as a new developer will increase in value as you learn more about the company. This isn't wrong on its face. You will hopefully increase some value over the course of your career and over the course of a given job assignment. You'll be learning a lot about the company but there's also a different type of value that actually decreases during the amount of time that you have at a company. This is something that's really hard to undo but as you spend time learning about a company you start to lose perspective of what it's like to be a beginner at the company. This is actually true for development in general. It's hard to remember what it's like to be a beginner and so some of the people who are best to teach beginners are the ones who are most recently beginners themselves. The same principle applies when companies get stuck, when somehow they've hit a wall and they hire consultants. The consultant comes in with very little knowledge of what the company does and they evaluate the problems with a fresh set of eyes. This is kind of how you can view yourself rather than viewing yourself as starting from ground zero and working your way up, you can view yourself more like a consultant on day one. Now, it may not necessarily be your job to come in and label everything that's wrong with the company but you can take notes and understand ways that things could be improved from a different perspective than someone who's been there for a couple of years for example. In almost every company and every job that you will ever have there will be practices that are engaged simply because that's the way it's always been done. Some questions that you will have as a beginner are questions that others won't think to have. So, this is a unique type of value that beginners provide that seasoned people in the company may have a harder time providing. So that's the first perspective shift. The idea that you are starting from very little to no value and growing into that value as you continue in your career at a giving company and that shift is to think of yourself more like a consultant that's coming in and moving towards full time. If you have the mental model that you have a fresh perspective and that has a unique value that can change the way that you think about your contributions to the team and it can also change your own confidence in those contributions. The second perspective that you may have is developer, especially young developers who are at the beginning of their career or second career developers who are just now starting out is the idea that you barely got the job that you're barely qualified or that somehow you tricked somebody enough to give you this job. The reality is that developers at all stages in their career may feel this way. While it's not impossible that this could be true to some extent, it's unlikely that somebody would give you money when they have other optional candidates that could qualify and they give you money as a bet. This is an unlikely scenario because businesses are designed to be risk averse. This doesn't mean that every business will practice this equally but it would be an unusual case for a business to turn down someone who is more qualified if they could get them for the same amount of money. So whatever it is that you provide to the business they have chosen to bring you on. This is a hard thing to accept because for a lot of reasons, developers have less of an understanding of where they stand in the industry. This feeling of imposter syndrome is something that can continuously creep up in your career. It's particularly difficult at the beginning of a job because you're already in unknown territory. Once you spend some time in a job and you've proven your value and maybe you've experienced a few scenarios where you helped other people and that can help your confidence, the types of imposter syndrome you might face are a little bit different. This particular type of imposter syndrome can set you up for a long term bad relationship with your job. This can make you feel indebted, for example, and overwork yourself. Overwork may tend to lead to bad decisions on your part. If you are overworked and fatigued, then the quality of your work will degrade and ultimately you may suffer in your career even though you're putting in more effort. So a healthier way to view this is not to feel like you are simply entitled to your job or more, but instead to approach everything with a sense of gratitude. Gratitude is not saying that you were given something that you didn't deserve, but it's also not saying that you deserve more than you were given. It's understanding and appreciating the reality that you were able to find a job that you're qualified for and that the employer believes that you are qualified for the job as well and you are able to come to an agreement, feeling an imbalance in either direction, whether you feel that you are underpaid or underappreciated in your job or if you feel like an imposter in your job. Those can both breed unhealthy situations. They can breed unhealthy perspectives on your work and ultimately they can lead to bad behaviors on your part. So the perspective shift there is to replace your sense of imposter with a sense of gratitude. The last perspective shift is important in all phases of your career, but it increases in importance when you start a new job. And that is the idea that everyone is judging your actions to a meticulous degree. When you start a job, you can feel exposed because you are thinking a lot about your daily actions, about your interactions with other co-workers. But the reality is that everyone is most interested in themselves. And so even though it may feel like everyone is focused on you, maybe they are focused on how you are doing, what kind of code are you generating, what are your interactions with other people, are you a funny person, are you enjoyable to be around. These are all things that race through our heads, but most of the time people are not thinking about you. If you take a moment and validate this by remembering the last time that you were meticulously studying someone else's actions, this is a very rare occasion. When we have new people join a company, we aren't looking into their actions as deeply as we fear others are looking into ours. This is kind of an imbalance of attention, partially because we are so aware of our own actions and it makes us think that everyone else is also aware of our actions. It's also easy to believe that other people have their jobs figured out more than we do. Other people feel very similar feelings to you. They have very similar situations to yours. We're all human and we all have the fears that drive us to do the things we do. For example, the fear of losing our job, the fear of looking incompetent, the fear of not connecting with other people well. These are all common fears that everyone faces. If you can recognize that the people that you are afraid are judging your actions have fears of their own, then you can understand why those people are also looking at themselves. It's not that we're all selfish, it's that we all are trying to respond and protect ourselves from dangerous situations. In order to build relationship with other people, instead of trying to respond to every little action and trying to predict every little reaction, we can understand that we're both human and start from that place. Recognize that everyone else has fears of their own and that we can all work better when we work together. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you enjoyed today's episode, I encourage you to do two things. Subscribe in whatever podcasting app you are currently using. The second one is somehow tell another person about this podcast. There's two great ways to do that. The first is share this episode. That's an easy way. Send this episode, a link to this episode, to a friend that you think will benefit from it. The second way is to go and leave a review in iTunes. The link to do this is in the show notes, but this is a great way to help other Developer That maybe you don't know, decide to actually listen to the show or find the show in the first place. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode and until next time, enjoy your tea.