Not so long ago, I have reached the end of my probation period. It is common knowledge that starting a new job is a stressful experience, but few actually get to experience it precisely because, whether we admit it or not, we all fear the unknown, and we tend to stay in our comfort zone . That is why it was also so hard for me to make the decision to give up my previous job, and I do not even know which period was the hardest – the period before starting the new job when I did not know what to expect and a thousand scenarios were running through my head, or the first month on the job, passing through all possible states of mind in a single day. In retrospect, however, I realized that it is a very interesting month in terms of feelings, so I decided to keep a diary of most thoughts that crossed my mind, divided by weeks.
Week 1 – Fortune favours the brave
To put things into perspective a little, I left an American multinational IT company situated also in Bratislava, where I had been living for a year and a half, since I left my country to start the previous job here. The first day I started with the same questions that swirled through my mind for the last two months, since I had handed in my notice to the other side: Have I made the right decision? Eventually the other side was not that bad, right? Yeah, yes it was, remember all the reasons why you wanted to leave in the first place. But how can I leave such a cool team behind? It was an international team, do you realize how lucky you were to work for a year and a half in a foreign country, and everyone around you to speak English? Why did you give that up for an exclusive Slovak team, if you can barely understand the language? Never mind, I will take it as a challenge, now I really have no reason not to learn Slovak. I should start taking Slovak lessons again. And apparently there’s a Swedish guy in the team as well, so…
I was my most encouraging supporter , and my biggest critic at the same time. For anyone who has seen the animation Inside out, I embodied both Joy and Sadness in the same person.
The first day was more for HR guidance, but I got to chat a little through emails with my team leader. He happened to be sick, so he was working from home the first days of that week. I finished the orientation program earlier than the normal time to go, and I ask the team leader what I should do the next day, where I should come, because I did not know too well where my team was. Shocker, he tells me that, being sick, he can not introduce me, but he suggested that I could go to the team and introduce myself! After that he told me where I could find them. So imagine, as if it was not sufficiently stressful to be scanned for the first time by a whole team, to appear in their midst … and to say what? Hey, hi, it’s me, your new colleague?!
Luckily for me when I arrived there, I saw one of the other team leaders, with whom I had had the interview, so I went to her and she introduced me to my new colleagues.
I found out that I had not one, but two buddies, a he and a she ( turns out I later actually had three. I can just feel your envy right now.), which was great, but I was not too pleased that I must depend on a guy buddy, because they generally are … well, not as talkative as us ladies , not to say quiet, and a bond is formed more easily between two ladies. Wrong, both were very friendly and eager to help and explain, and ironically, he is the most talkative. So much for stereotypes in my head.
The rest of the week I was in trainings all days, so I started intensive learning. I had no background in insurance, so everything was new and exciting. Trying to assimilate everything kind of took all my energy, so I had moments when I was going to sleep at 9pm. At the end of the first week, it was beginning to be quite clear what my tasks were, so I ended up the week wondering Is that it ?!
Week 2 – DON’T Panic!
I learned very quickly that no, that was not it at all, on the contrary, after another week, I realized that the fact that I had put that question was a sign that I understood nothing in the first week.
The first wave of panic was when I started seeing requests in the team mailbox, and I realized that yes, it really was a 100% French position. I alone wanted a French position, to develop my language, but I wasn’t so sure of my French. So when I started seeing dozens of emails only in French, and especially when I heard my colleagues talking on the phone in French, my panic grew exponentially.
Man, do my colleagues speak good French. Where did they learn to speak with such good accent? I don’t speak so nicely! What am I gonna do when the French will call me, and I will not understand what they say? How many times can I ask them to repeat what they said without sounding like an idiot? And how often will they want to talk on the phone? I bet I will stammer on the phone! Clearly, I bit more than I could chew.
And just as the stress was rising thinking about my abilities to speak French, my team leader tells me he wants to hold a tele-conference with French colleagues, with which I would work, to introduce myself. In front of all of them. In French!
That was the first time that I got overwhelmed and I started thinking that I might not pass probation. The former job was fairly complex as well, but I hadn’t thought for a moment there that I will not pass the 3 months.
I realize I wrote quite a lot already and I only covered the first two weeks, so I guess this should be followed by a second part of the post soon 🙂