It’s natural to feel lost and overwhelmed when starting a new job – especially if it’s your first job after graduation.
The good news is that in your first few weeks, you have a Get Out of Jail Free card. This is your opportunity to ask questions without fear of judgement. This being said, it definitely helps to know what questions to ask and who you should direct those questions to. Here are a few tips for those inevitable times when you just don’t know.
Note what you don’t know
Take notes! If you hear or read about something that pertains to your job and your industry, write it down. Doing this helps you build something of a customized encyclopedia for yourself – it will provide a record of things you want to learn and the answers to those questions, so you’ll always have them for easy reference. It’s up to you how much of a keener you want to be… just remember that the more you learn, the easier your job will become.
Ask the right people
In an ideal scenario, you’ll have a supportive and understanding manager/supervisor with whom you’ll be comfortable asking questions. If for some reason you’re not comfortable with asking them questions, consider directing your questions to the following people:
Your “job twin”. Chances are, this person is you with a few extra months of experience under their belt. They have a similar role to yours – and if anyone can understand what you’re going through, they will. Ask them those “stupid questions” that you’ve been dying to get out. Your job twin probably had the same questions as you when they started, and will probably know the answer.
The workplace guru. There’s always at least one person who’s been working with the company and industry for a while. Find someone who is close enough to your team to know what you want to know, but doesn’t have a direct influence on whether or not you’ll get to stick around after your probation period. This last point is mainly so you’ll feel comfortable with asking them questions.
Ask Google. When in doubt, do a quick search. There are (supposedly) no such thing as dumb questions, but if you suspect that your question might be really intimately close to being a dumb question, remember: Google’s the one teacher who won’t judge you.
Don’t be embarrassed
Seriously. Everyone’s gone through this at some point in their careers. It’s your first day/week, possibly at your first ever grown-up job, and it’s okay to be confused. You’ll have enough to worry about later when your responsibilities pile up, so don’t stress yourself out over not knowing what you feel like you should already know.
It’s always better to ask at the beginning and get clarification rather than waiting until you’re a few months in (people will be much less understanding at that point). You’re new – you’re expected to have questions. As long as you work hard to learn, you’ll be fine.