On Being The New Girl

Author: Miranda Eason

As I mentioned earlier this week, on Monday I’m going to be heading to work in an office for the first time in two years. It’s only for a four-week stint and mostly I’m really excited but I have to admit that I’m feeling a little bit nervous too.

Prior to taking a year out in 2013 I’d worked for the same company for over ten years, in various positions and on several magazines but still, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been the totally new girl, unsure about what everybody on the team does, let alone what they’re actually called, unfamiliar with office etiquette or the number for the IT department, and in the dark about the location of everything from the tea-making facilities to the toilets.

Call me shallow, but one of my biggest worries is what to wear on my first day. I’m going to be working on a fashion magazine so getting it right is important. I’ve done a bit of online window shopping (see here if you missed it) but I’m yet to actually buy anything new so panic is starting to set in. Ultimately I figure that too smart is better than too casual and I can always dial down a dress, tailored jacket and heels for trousers of some description, a smart top and flats later in the week. Come to think of it, I’ve barely worn heels for the past two years. I wonder if I can remember how to walk in them…?!

Up there with what to wear is the commute. I’ve worked out my route and how long to leave using an online journey planner, to which I’ll add, ooh, at least half an hour to allow for delays but I’m still considering doing a trial run before the week’s out. Seriously. And even then I’ll still leave a just-in-case buffer. You just never know when there are multiple tube lines involved in your journey and being late on your first day is not a good look.

And then of course there’s the job itself. There’s going to be a totally new way of doing things to get on top of, new systems to get my head around, and a whole new writing style to master. What if I can’t write, edit or even think fast enough? There won’t be the luxury of being able to ponder every word when there are monthly print and daily online deadlines to keep on top of. Perhaps, after a year of mostly working at home, alone, I’ve developed some sort of weird habit like talking to myself? (I just said that aloud, yikes!). What if I can’t even work out how to switch the computer on?! (This did happen to me once).

In my heart of hearts I know I’ll be fine, afterall it’s not as if I haven’t worked 9 to 5, five days a week in a magazine office before although, admittedly, I’ve never had to blog on evenings and weekends as well. It’s going to be a busy month, juggling a full time role, writing for Rock My Style and trying to fit in at least a couple of yoga classes a week. Ultimately however I’m looking forward to the challenge. Just as soon as I’ve worked out how to switch the computer on…

Has anyone else out there recently started, or about to start a new job? Maybe you’ve gone back to work after a career break, gone freelance after being a staffer, or returned to your role after maternity leave? How are you finding it? Or feeling about it, if it’s yet to happen? Any tips to make sure I hit the ground running? Are you doing a day job and an after-hours gig? Any advice for successfully managing the juggle? As ever all thoughts very gratefully received!

Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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33 thoughts on “On Being The New Girl

  1. Somebody else who leaves an hour early, just in case! I’m so glad I’m not the only one! After a year of nannying, or “playing with kids” as I’ve been told numerous times, I’m actually attempting to rejoin the real world in an office this month and I’m also totally petrified! I don’t like wearing black in an office, but then you always stand out! And I’ll also be blogging, yoga-ing, and doing all the other stuff I want/need to do in a week. How does Jessica Alba/Beyoncé do it?! I swear they have more hours in their days than us ordinary folk!

    Good luck Miranda, you’ll be amazing! X

    1. Thanks Anni and lots of luck with rejoining the real world! Haha, yes, the Jessica Albas and Beyoncés of this world really do seem to have more hours in their day than the rest of them, that’s the only explanation for how they get so much done! X

      1. Pretty sure beyonce/jessica alba et al don’t have to do any of the boring life chores like laundry and buying cat food. THAT’S how they get all the other stuff done 🙂

  2. I know how you feel about starting a new job – did exactly that this past Monday. I haven’t had a break as such (apart from christmas!) and it’s still in a field/industry that I have worked in for the past 5 years, but it’s still nerve-wracking. Like you say, you don’t know the office ettiquette (do people just email or actually have conversations out loud?! Does everyone leave at the same time for lunch, leave bang on 5.30?) I’ve replaced someone who had worked at the company for a number of years and as such, the role she undertook had changed and developed – it means that everyone else also has to get used to the newbie who can’t done everything just yet!

    I am sure you will be fab Miranda – and you’re not alone with leaving with a buffer. I’m currently on my way in to work as I have a 9.30 meeting and I’m terrified I’m going to miss it (so I’ll be 45mins early instead…!)

    1. Those are exactly the kinds of things I worry about too Jo (should I email, or just pop over to someone’s desk, how long past 5.30pm should I stay, and so on). Hope you made it to your meeting on time!

      1. Made it with plenty of time, thanks! And got first pick of the surprise pastries that were dished out too – bonus!

  3. I so sympathise – I’ve been called to interview for a new job and just the thought of the change and having to learn everything over again is making me super anxious!

    1. Lots of luck with interview Anna, as nerve-wracking as the thought of a new job is it’s exciting too!

  4. I feel this exact same way every time I freelance in-house.

    What if they use a different version of the software to what I use? What if they are WAY better at the job than I am? What if they really hate what I do? What if I can’t come up with anything and have total designers block?!

    To be honest, I feel like that everyday working with regular clients too. The design industry is so subjective. What one persons likes and thinks relays the key message perfectly is utter nonsense to another and looks hideous.

    Ultimately I have come to accept this and just go at everything with an open mind, give it all I have and if it’s not good enough/not what they’re looking for then I come to the conclusion that perhaps we’re just not meant to work together.

    So I guess being yourself and giving your most honest and thought out ideas and opinions is the way to go. You will be great and I’m sure after sorting the computer (so funny btw) and after a few hours in you’ll feel right at home.

    Good Luck!

    1. Such good advice Becky. I’ve never freelanced in an office, I’ve always been on staff, so this is very new to me, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it, although I do think nerves show you care and want to do a good job. You’re right, when you work in a creative environment opinions are so subjective and criticism can be hard to take, but ultimately, if it makes the end result better (as opposed to just asking for changes for the sake of it) it’s all to the good, I guess!

  5. Good luck in the new job! I started a new job in May last year, probably doesn’t sound that new still but it def feels it! I moved to working in intensive care and it is the scariest most challenging job I have ever had! I work from 7-8 day and then nights in no particular order which means finishing nights to go back on days in the same week (like many in nursing I might add its not just me ha!) but it’s exhausting! I love every minute but my god its a shock! And there are so many staff I have only just got to know everyone and who I can turn to for a bit of a meltdown etc. everyone says it takes about 2 years until you full know what you’re doing so I have a way to go but I know it’s what I want to do. I have a bit of a wobble now and then as it is just so much reaponsibilty for the sickest of people but I’m getting there! You’ll be great and at least you can wear nice clothes haha! I have the uniform so that worry is taken away! Xx

    1. Thank you! Wow, your job sounds intense, both physically and mentally challenging, but rewarding too, I would imagine. I hadn’t heard that it takes around two years to know what you’re doing, I’ll try not to worry if I’m not on top of everything from day one! Xx

      1. Haha apparently on there it does so that’s still a year an a bit to go for me sadly! I’m sure you will be great and I bet you will pick up the routine really quick! It is super intense but def rewarding when you have good days or even when they’re bad but you have done everything you can and a family is grateful. That’s the best. Xx

  6. This is perfectly timed for me – I have just handed in my notice at my current job and will be starting a new one at the beginning of February. While it is a good move for me and an exciting prospect I am also nervous – mainly for all of the reasons you stated above! What to wear? The nightmare of learning everyone’s names. Feeling like you are a complete pain in the bum continually asking questions. New commute to learn. I just can’t wait for the first month to be over when you feel a little more like you have a clue what you are supposed to be doing! With that being how long you are at the new place I really feel for you! I am also someone who like to gym before work so need to find a new gym and sort all the palaver that goes along with that too. Plus I will miss all of my current office friends. But onwards and upwards. Although I think my new role will be a bit more taxing which is good, but will also leave me less time to read RMS! Oh no!

    1. Oh no, less time to read RMS Bryony, nightmare! Lots of luck with your new job. I think it’s a good time of year to be starting somewhere new, all that new year motivation, plus it will be practically Spring by the time you start and the Easter bank holidays will come along soon enough to give you a break after your first month (assuming you get Bank hols, of course). I’m going to try and stick with my regular yoga studio, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do morning classes and make it to the office on time. There is a brand new yoga studio close to the office though, so I might give that a try!

  7. I’ve been the new girl soooo many times, and each time sucked! I think the bit which I dislike the most is that every company/organisation/firm has politics…and until you’ve worked there for a while, you don’t know where the sensitivities are. I’m one of these people (sadly) who is very paranoid about getting this sort of thing wrong and not wanting to step on people’s toes…which is v difficult when you don’t know the history and issues that a place has.

    I think my main tip is – get the basics down as quickly as you can. Learn who everyone is and how they all fit together. That’s the best way to identify if there are any potential issues (if there’s someone difficult to work with / if there’s two people working together who dislike each other and could make your life harder etc).

    What IS nice about going to a new place is that it’s a totally fresh start, you can begin again and also it’s important to keep pushing your boundaries and new jobs are such a great challenge in that respect. In my line of work, the only way to really progress and move up the career ladder is to change roles so this is my eighth role in six companies in nine years. I’ve been at my current place for just over two years which is the longest I’ve been anywhere. It’s weird! But I do miss the excitement of starting that new job etc – enjoy it Miranda, I’m sure it’ll go really well. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kate! Great advice, as well as getting the basics down in terms of who everyone is and how they all fit together, I’ll be scribbling notes on all the systems to hopefully minimise questions! I moved around a lot in the early part of my career, sometimes leaving jobs I adored to get to the next level, but wow, eight roles in six companies over nine years is a lot of change. You’re right though, it is exciting to be starting something new and meeting lots of new people!

  8. I always leave early too. I’d rather be killing time before than be late and make a bad impression. I’m always stupidly early for trains too, just in case. Good luck on your first day. x

    1. Thank you Sarah! I’m exactly the same when it come to trains and planes too, I’ve killed many an hour in an airport, but I just see it as more time to read and get excited about my trip, and browse Duty Free, of course! x

  9. I have just started a new job as Marketing and Development Director of an independent school for girls. I’m loving it and my little team are fabulous however, braving the staff room at break times is proving a challenge but I am forcing myself to do it tomorrow as I need to get to know the teachers as well! Can’t just hide in my office!

  10. I’ll be returning to work in April after a year off from maternity leave and I’ll have a brand new boss as well, so I think I’ll feel a bit like the new girl, despite working there for 6 years.

    To be honest I am dreading it, more the leaving my little pumpkin in a nursery though I think. I will be a wreck to say the least. I’ve got so used to being mummy for the past 7 months that I think it will take me a while to adjust to be being me, the employed person again. I don’t have much advice but any coming my way would be much appreciated.

    Good luck with your new role Miranda xxx

    1. Thank you Tabitha. I can’t imagine how much hard it will be to leave your little one when you go back to work, and having a new boss when you go back will be strange. Good luck with it all!

    2. Oh Tabitha, I’m in the same position. Due to go back to work mid February after 10.5 months maternity to a new boss and a lot of new colleagues too. Add to that my assistant has just told me she is leaving so it’s going to be all change. Dreading having to leave my little boy. How many days are you doing when you go back? X

  11. I’m on the other side of this topic right now and due to welcome 2 new starts to my team next Monday. It’s been a long time, 11 years, since I was the new start and although I’ve added several new team members over the year, it’s interesting to hear how those new starts are feeling. I’ve borrowed a couple of your comments re who’s who, working hours etc and added to my induction plans so thank you all for the tips 🙂

  12. Oh Miranda this sounds exactly like me! I am just starting the hunt for a new job and feel very very anxious and nervous about everything. For some reason I feel like a fraud and I’m not really sure how i’ve ended up where I am. I am worried that people interviewing me will completely see through me and think my experience is rubbish or that I am technically incompetent.

    All massive worries which have been putting me off looking for a new job for about the last 18 months. I’ve started talking to recruiters this week which is also making me feel anxious, however I am not going to get anywhere or any career progression if I carry on where I am at the moment – just have to take the plunge and get on with it…

    1. Absolutely Emma, sometimes you just have to go for it! I think most people at some point or another think that they’re going to get found out, eventually. I just keep reminding myself that I have lots of experience and love the magazine I’m going to be working on!

  13. I started a new job just before Christmas, after having been at my old company for 5 years. It’s a massive change and it was really a bit scary – and worse, I’m not working out of one office, I have to slot in to a couple of different ‘head offices’ whilst being employed by another part of the company so it’s both scary being the new girl and very isolating! My new boss is also a newbie though (he started this week) so we can get to know the job together.

    1. Oh my goodness, working out of different office must take a lot of getting used to Sara, hopefully, ultimately, it will mean that you get to know lots of people, rather than just your immediate team and great that your boss is new to the company too. Good luck!

  14. I’ve just had my first day back as the founder and Creative Director and feeling totally like the new person as we’ve had new people arrive since I’ve been off on maternity leave. It’s totally weird. I am SO the new girl but also supposed to be kind of in charge too and have been there 10 years longer than most people. I have the same fears as Becky… being expected to have lots of creative ideas is a bit daunting with a big new team… especially having spent the last 9 months mainly watching CBeebies. I’m a bit scared I might accidentally suggest a few pre-school and not very cool things and they will all wish I would leave again! We worry about such silly things though… I had a panic the night before I went back about not knowing how hungry I might get! I had to have words with myself about that one. Its a city centre office- with a cafe attached. Not sure why my brain does things like that to me. I suffered a night of hardly any sleep because my pack lunch might not be enough… ?!

    1. Haha, I just bought a stash of Nakd bars for exactly that reason Amanda. It’s ridiculous really, I’m going to be working in North London, not on the moon, I’m sure I will be able to pop out for a snack if needs be. I do worry about the expectations too. I once worked in a job where this one person, who had clearly been in the role way too long, shot down every idea I gave in features meetings with a “We did that in an issue 3 years ago” type comment. So demoralising. Needless to say I didn’t stay in that job for very long.

  15. Give yourself plenty of time on Monday. The changes taking place at London bridge start Monday so lots of people will be getting different tubes and there are likely to be delays.x

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