When you’re a recent college graduate leaving behind the hallowed halls of academia, the workplace is a brave new world. There are all kinds of skills to learn, expectations to adjust to, and processes to memorize. So it’s completely understandable that as you acclimate to this new environment, sometimes you’re going to feel unprepared, unorganized, and inadequate.
The key is to beat these feelings at their own game, so they don’t start dampening your enthusiasm, stunting your personal growth, and turning you into your own worst enemy. Here are some of the offending phrases that played through my own head when I was a recent graduate, and how you can deal with them.
Uh Oh — I have no clue know how to [insert skills here]
I guarantee you that when you start a new job, someone is going to ask you to do something that you have no background in. Maybe it’s aggregating data or putting together a scope document or pulling together a project budget. It’s scary. It’s intimidating. And you’re first instinct may be to run the other way.
Don’t. First and foremost, be honest about what you know and what you don’t. Ask questions and be clear with your supervisor. Then get online and Google for advice on how to complete [insert task title here]. Watch videos and attend webinars. Do whatever you need to do to figure out how to do what’s asked of you. You’ll gain valuable new skills in the process, and you’ll have a process in place for the next time you get asked to do something you’re unfamiliar with.
I’m totally going to screw this up.
You just got handed a big project – the kind that can really prove your abilities to your boss and maybe even lead to a promotion. So of course the first thing that goes through you mind is: “I’m going to screw this up!”
First, take a deep breath. You can do this. You’ll only screw up if you let your nerves psyche you out. Remember all of the big college projects and papers you put together – and aced. Then, break the project into smaller, achievable steps. Go slow. Ask questions and double check your work along the way. Ask for your boss to review what you’ve completed and to provide feedback (if there’s time). Before you know it, you’ll be handing your work on and moving on to the next thing.
I’m not good enough.
This is the big one, and when you’re in a brand new workplace, it’s easy to feel this way. You don’t know what you’re doing, you’re totally out of your element, and you’re going to make mistakes, so of course there are times that you feel like you’re just not good enough. It’s normal, but don’t let it become a mantra that you repeat over and over in you mind. If you do, you’ll see mistakes as constant set backs and evidence of your unworthiness instead of what they really are: learning opportunities.
It’s perfectly normal to feel any, or all, of the above emotions from time to time. The key is to beat them at their own game, and not let them turn you into your own worst enemy.