Starting a Career in the New Normal
July 7, 2020
Tuesday, March 3, 2020. This was my first day as an account coordinator at Grisko. I took the elevator up to the sixth floor of the Wrigley Building, hopeful and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. This was eight business days before we started working from home.
Every day, we are adapting to this new environment. As the newest member of the Grisko team, I am adjusting not only to the new normal, but to a new city, and new position in an industry that is constantly evolving.
The CTA, downtown office, small apartment and city life are all new to me coming from small town Indiana. For the first time, I am truly alone in a new place. With COVID-19, a lot of the things I’m really looking forward to experiencing have been pushed back. By staying home though, I’ve gotten the opportunity to really explore my neighborhood, push myself out of my comfort zone by reaching out to new and old friends and focus on myself and my goals. In the process, I’ve spent a lot of time learning more about Chicago and everything it has to offer. My list of things to try is growing everyday.
This challenging yet exciting expierence has taught me a lot about myself, my position and what I can do to leave a lasting impression. Here are some things I’ve learned so far.
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
This sounds cliché, but it’s something I’m constantly reminding myself while working from home. At the office, it’s easy to turn around and ask “hey, what do you mean by this?” or “I’m not familiar with this, can you help me when you have time?” As the new person, asking questions while working from home can seem intimidating.
My recommendation: Don’t overthink it. If you have a question, ask. Most companies use some kind of application that allows you to quickly ping a coworker. Take advantage of these tools! Your coworkers want to help you and see you succeed, and at one point, they were the new person in the office. Asking questions, big or small, is okay, and it’s something everyone does.
Small talk is important and refreshing:
I have found small talk to be one of the most refreshing things these last few months. Think about it: at the office, you would be having these conversations every day. These hallway conversations grow from small talk to meaningful conversations and lasting relationships. Since moving to working from home, the team is in constant communication via Zoom meetings, emails, instant messaging and phone calls. Take some time during your day to reach out to your coworkers. Check in, ask about their life, what they are doing, how their family is, if they have any book or TV show recommendations. These conversations have helped me find my place.
Don’t shy away from using email or even phone calls. You start learning more about your coworkers and what you have in common with them. And, your coworkers enjoy getting to know you, too.
Take it day by day:
Don’t focus on how long you will be working from home, focus on what you have to accomplish today. Whether it’s a pitch or a media list to complete, every day at Grisko is full of surprises. Focusing on what I have going on and what I can learn today has helped me stay motivated and feel connected.
Remember, starting any new position or career is a learning experience. You will have some ups and downs, but that is part of every job or internship. Most companies are working remotely for the first time, and it is important to realize that you are not alone. Your coworkers are experiencing the same unknowns and anxiety that you might be, and they are your support system. Reach out if you are feeling anxious or need a mental health day. Your coworkers understand, and they are there for you!
Put yourself out there:
There are constant challenges in the first few weeks and months in a new position. Just learning how things work at your company can be a challenge. I’m using this time to take on new challenges and learning opportunities and come out better on the other side, both professionally and personally.
Biweekly, Grisko has a virtual Tiki happy hour, and when I can, I like to stay on a bit longer to get to know my coworkers on a more personal level. I love socializing, and this is the perfect time for me to have personal, real conversations with people who aren’t on the same projects or team as me. A couple of weeks ago, I stayed on with about four others and we all discovered that we had all been camp counselors during college. In just an hour more of conversation, we all discovered that we shared a unique and special experience.
I love asking “what else can I help with today?” Not only does this help me gain professional experience but it also gives me a chance to learn about clients and projects that I am not directly working with. When I ask this, I’m also given the chance to spend time on things I don’t usually focus on. Small research projects for potential new clients or professional outlets are always fun because I have the chance to really dive into a subject that I haven’t learned about before.
Starting my career coupled with being the newest team member during a global pandemic continues to be a very unique experience, but Grisko and the resources they share have eased the transition and helped me feel right at home. Challenging experiences shape you into who you’ll be tomorrow, and there is no better feeling than knowing that yes, you can do this!
July 7, 2020