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  • September 5, 2013

Crossing the Threshold

We’ve added a few new faces here at Happy Cog, and though I just recently celebrated my four-month Coggiversary, our rapid growth has me feeling a bit like a veteran rookie. Decorative Illustration Working without the “this is my first job!” crutch can be terrifying. So, I can’t help but wonder: Where’s the advice for us post-post-grads?

There’s a slew of great industry articles aimed to help concerned college students or recent grads with how to “land that first big job” or “get your foot in the door,” but what happens once you’re already inside? Luckily, you are more prepared and confident this time around, and can apply the experience you’ve gained over the past few years.

So, when you cross the threshold for your next job, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. You have something valuable to add

Don’t be afraid to add your own touch to your office’s new workflow. You don’t need to abandon all that you’re used to, but it’s important to absorb all that you can from your veteran peers. The hardest thing I had to overcome was speaking up. I learned quickly that my thoughts and ideas were celebrated when I could appropriately add to the conversation. People enjoy fresh perspective! If you’ve made it this far, I promise that you have interesting things to contribute to your new team. As my design director, MJ, says, “If you’ve been invited [to a meeting], you belong in the room.”

2. Get by with a little help from your friends

I can’t stress enough that your colleagues will help you adjust more than you can help yourself. It was after I spent some out-of-office time with my coworkers and talked about our common interests that I really started to feel involved. My favorite part of our process is the transparency and open communication between all Cogs. Veterans, invite the n00b out for a drink; and newbies, don’t be afraid to talk to your new coworkers like a normal person and friend.

3. Observe

Sit in on as many meetings and discussions as you can, whether they directly correlate to your own work or process or not. Firsthand observation allows you to absorb and then apply takeaways to your own projects. Observing an entire process cycle will leave you feeling much more prepared and confident when the projects you’re working on reach these points.

4. But also be proactive

It’s hard for anyone to break down their process and teach you the ropes. Whether you’re a designer, developer, or project manager, your everyday work is likely pretty intuitive (and it’s difficult to explain what you don’t actively think about). Ask questions, a lot of questions. I learned quickly that sitting idly by was not the most efficient way to learn my way around the new office. Chances are your new colleagues aren’t telepaths; they won’t know what you don’t know. Anticipate the answers you’ll need and ask away. That transparency and comradery from getting to know your new coworkers at happy hour will make this process much more comfortable.

5. Remain humble

Sure, you’re a little more confident now that you aren’t entirely a recent grad; but, most importantly, you should remain humble enough to know that you still have so much to learn. Keep reading, researching, and learning from your mentors. You’ll always be in some awkward state of moving forward (post-post-post grads?), but it’s your thirst for new knowledge that keeps the momentum to power through these transitions.

Fear not what’s on the other side of that door. It will be exciting, challenging, and above all rewarding. Getting to learn a new process and actually contribute your own experience is incredibly empowering compared to our previous post-grad lives. Take a deep breath, and step in.

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