New Kid in Town: Adjusting to Life at a New Publishing House

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Today’s the day. You’re dressed to the nines in your best blazer and shoes and your hair looks fantastic. You’ve actually eaten a decent breakfast for once, and you leave home 30 minutes earlier than usual. This is no ordinary workday—it’s your first day at a new house! Gulp.

Adapting to a new position at your own company can be overwhelming enough. Adjusting to life at an entirely new house is a much bigger beast—one that I happen to be right in the middle of tackling, as I began a new job at another house less than three months ago. You’re excited and terrified all at once: happy that you made a career leap (go you!), but unsure how to make your mark on a blank canvas (cue panic).

It’s not easy to start over after you’ve spent years in the same place with the same coworkers, especially if it was your first publishing job. It was difficult saying goodbye to my work buds—it’s somewhat like graduating (except no one else left!). I know the friendships will continue outside of the office environment, though, and that the new adventure must take precedence over comfort and familiarity.

But how exactly are you supposed to navigate this brave new world? Here are a few tips and observations to keep in mind during those new job jitters:

Bigger vs. smaller house: Perhaps the most striking element of your transition will be the size of your new company. I moved from a large house to a considerably smaller one. A small house can offer an “everybody knows your name” atmosphere that a Big Six house may not have. On the other hand, moving to a large house can open up a huge network of new connections. Are you a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big one? Now is your chance to find out and to see where you thrive.

Different office/corporate culture: Take note of how casual or formal your new surroundings are. Can you wear jeans to work? How old are the majority of your colleagues? Perhaps you more noticeably fall on the younger end of the spectrum now, or there’s greater gender diversity within your department. Does your department celebrate holidays and birthdays? You’ll get a better sense of the office atmosphere with time, so just be observant and err on the side of caution for the time being.

Making new friends: You’re going to meet a lot of new people (especially during your first few days), but who will you really form bonds with at work? Attend in-house brown bag lunches and other informative sessions that will allow you to meet colleagues who work in other areas. Find out about any book clubs or sports teams at the company (spring softball!). Get to know your Human Resources staff. Make an extra effort to be social during the first few weeks–say yes to happy hours! You’ll be impressed with yourself when you actually remember everyone’s names and faces—which is, of course, the first step in any friendship.

Allow room to breathe: The beginning weeks and months can and will be overwhelming, but don’t forget that you’re there to learn and train. You’re going to make mistakes, perhaps even a lot of them. You may get lost in the hallway more than a few times (been there, done that). You’re not going to understand everything instantly, even though you want to. Remember that this period of discomfort is only temporary. (For a lifelong perfectionist like me, this is especially important to keep in mind!)

Remember: You’re awesome. Okay, this is probably not the most professional-sounding piece of advice, but it’s a basic confidence booster. You were hired at your new house for a reason: you’re a rock star. Give yourself a pat on the back for moving up the ladder, and own your new job!

Brigid Black is a member of the YPG Planning Committee.

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