We’ve all been there at some stage: The less-than-discreet stares as you walk past a desk, the small talk in the kitchen, the confusion when a colleague uses some sort of corporate jargon you’ve never heard before.
I’m almost 2 months into my new job, and, moving from a tiny team to a rather large corporate organisation, I’ve realised that nothing makes you stand out more than being the newbie.
The mispronunciation of your name:
Throughout my entire life I’ve been called more variations of the name ‘Ciara’ than there are of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. From ‘Kee-ar-ah’ to ‘ ‘Kyra’, I’ve had them all. If you’ve a rather uncommon name, and you’re anything like me, you probably answer to every single one of them, purely because you haven’t the energy to correct people anymore. What importance does a name have, anyway?
(Before you ask, no my name is not like the singer, and I cannot do the 1-2 Step)
Over or Underdressing:
Technically speaking, you can’t go wrong with over-dressing, but it does help to be aware of the dress code BEFORE your first day. Tottering into the office in stripper heels and a tailored suit is not ideal, and if you’re a bit attention-shy like myself, you’ll end up looking like an absolute melon when everyone is bumbling around in jeans and slip on Converse.
The awkward handshake:
‘Are they going in for the hug?’ ‘Is my handshake firm enough?’ ‘Shit, her hands are huge.’
Often, your new colleagues may comment on how cold your hands are, or make a joke about being the latest newcomer, and it can be difficult to find something witty enough to reply, without squeezing their hand too hard or breaking out in a clammy sweat. The horror of spitting on your fellow employee is all too real, as is lingering for slightly too long. If you’re suave and sophisticated like Beyonce and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, none of this applies to you.
Breaking the coffee machine…:
Coffee machines are not consistent. Some are large, some are small. Some use pods and some sachets. When walking into the kitchen on my first day to make a cup of coffee, rather than asking someone how to use it, I tried squashing the sachet into every single crevice it might have fit in, gave up, and then couldn’t find the tea bags, ergo no hot drink. It was a full week before somebody showed me how to use it.
…and the printer:
Printer are tough to get the hang of and, in plain terms, I can’t use them. When trying to work out where THE PAPER GOES, a colleague politely asked if he could be of assistance, which I greatly appreciated, except I’d got myself into such a fluster I couldn’t tell him what i needed to do. unless you really need to use the printer, don’t. Don’t subject yourself to that kind of MISERY.
Walking into the wrong office:
This happens in many cases, but is always worse when you’re the new starter. At work we use a swipe card to get into our offices, and certain floors are out of bounds due to the sensitive nature of the work being carried out there, which is easy to remember unless you’re me. On my second day, I managed to walk out of the lift following a crowd of people I assumed were my colleagues. I was wrong. I was on the wrong floor, with the wrong people, walking into the wrong (most forbidden) office in the building. YAY CIARA. It’s not so bad really, except when you rock up 10 minutes late and have to explain that you were almost removed from the building for breaching security – nobody knows the new girl yet!
How do you use the phone again?
Office phones: lots of buttons, lots of direct dials, lots of confusion. I actually jump when my phone rings now.
Getting names hopelessly wrong:
I try not to use names now for fear of embarrassing myself and never coming back to work again. I’ve called people Lucy instead of Lia, Laura instead of Lara and Malcom instead of Marcus. Find a term of endearment and use that instead. ‘Hun’, ‘babe’ and ‘love’ all work just fine.
Spilling coffee over your boss:
It’s Monday morning, it’s your third week and you finally understand your job role – you’re feeling good. Great in fact, until you come back from the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee and proceed to chuck it all down the back of your line manager’s chair and (probably very) expensive suit. Monday ruined, week ruined, life ruined.
Surprisingly, I still have a job! Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!