One of the greatest problems I had was the fear of sounding dumb at a new job. Almost every graduate has experienced this before, especially when you get a placement for industrial attachment. The first week would almost seem like you are walking among enemies of “state,” these people are not going to help you. Even that staff that obviously knows nothing will also be forming jargon for you. Everyone seems to know the code name for this and the code name for that. The graduates I pity most are those medical students. Even before medical students graduate, they already have so much jargon to deal with.
By the way, Jargon means special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.
When I just arrived my placement in Warri, I was so scared that my boss would ask me about plots, acres, and hectares. The thought of this horror practically paralyzed me, every minute I half expected my boss to say “hey! how many plots are in a hectare?” This was notwithstanding the fact that I had done pretty well at my interview, and ordinarily, I should be confident enough to ask questions or search for answers.
One day someone said “let’s go and get a PVI,” and I lost it! I could have died at that moment because I was totally embarrassed about not knowing what a PVI was. Nobody likes to sound dumb. It dampens your morale and makes you less confident of your skills.
There are some good habits I quickly learnt and I will share them with you here:
- Don’t be ashamed to ask questions: this sounds like one of the most obvious options but I think it would be good you hear this from me. A sincere desire to learn is a good trait and you should rather ask questions than make a fool of yourself.
- Ask the right person, sometimes you need to understand the other staff members. There are some senior staff whose temperaments do not accommodate your questions, check and test the waters before you dive in.
- The timing could also be very important. Choose the right time to ask questions, either before work starts early in the morning or after closing hours. This ensures that you are not disrupting serious work with your questions.
- Google is your friend. Search engines have proven to be very helpful when it comes to finding out things like conversion rates, the meaning of professional words and acronyms.
- Ask a friend. I recently had to conduct a valuation inspection for a property but I knew I needed to know some things about the features of my report, I reached out to a friend who I knew had more experience in that field. This could be a really humbling approach but I promise you it’s better than looking like a fool.
- Write down some of the new and difficult concepts you encounter at your new job, have a jotter or journal handy as this would remind you to update and upgrade your knowledge at intervals.
Okay, these are some of my own strategies for coping with new job environments. I have not listed all because I know it’s not only in my profession that we encounter this fear of the knowledge gap between senior colleagues and fresh graduates. Nobody likes that feeling of looking dumb, so I would really appreciate if you share your experiences at new jobs and new placements. How did you cope with understanding all the jargon, did you get thrown out of the office for giving a foolish answer? Was there someone you always tried to avoid because they could ask you some difficult questions?
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