You will have heard this a lot, but congratulations on getting the job! Now, it’s time for the big bad world of work. You’re armed with nothing more than a date and location.
What exactly will you be working on? How will you work? Who are you working with?
All valid questions, some will be answered, some will lead to more questions. This is completely natural; the world of work is complicated. I will look at some of the more common scenarios I faced and with some hindsight, give some help on what I should have done! Some of these lessons, I learnt the hard way.
Your First Role: Getting to know your team
The chances are, you will be placed in a pre-existing team, one that has been working on its own workload for a while. They know each other, you’re the new person! How can you overcome this? Well, everyone is different. I am not the most extroverted person, so the thought of running around introducing myself to absolutely everyone was not exactly the first idea I had. Instead, I talked to my manager at the time and asked to shadow someone for a bit, that person could introduce me to the work being done and slowly introduce me to the wider team. Don’t worry you cannot possibly meet everyone, but a strong starting point is to get to know your direct team and work from there.
Doing the Work
You want all your work to be the best you can do, you really want to prove yourself. There’s just one question, ‘What are you working on?’ You could be assigned work, or you might gather your own. Either way, the process of figuring out what you are doing should be the same.
The world of work and business culture has seen some significant changes in recent years. With start-ups like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify and the like disrupting their respective markets seemingly overnight. It is becoming more and more important to stay ahead of the trends and develop ideas quickly.
One of the changes in the market for companies big and small is the transition to an agile culture. To summarise this as briefly as possible. It looks at constantly prioritising the work you are going to do based on value, usually customer / user value. Is the work you are going to do, going to have a positive impact on both you (the business) and the customer / user? If the answer is no, why are you doing this work?
Hopefully the company that you are going to is already on this journey, if not, these values are still invaluable for when you are starting work. Spend time to question what is being done and why, backing this work up with as much research as you can, does someone want what you are doing? One way of doing this for new products is to use design thinking techniques. For other pieces of work, it will be worth understanding who you need to talk to and getting some discussions in place. Do this before you start anything and have constant catch-ups with them. I learnt that the hard way! It’s very easy to start something, this also means that it’s easy to start something wrong!
Alex is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here