Starting a new job is truly terrifying. You probably don't know anyone, you have pretty much no idea what you're doing and it's that cliche fear of jumping in at the deep end: jumping into the unknown. That's exactly what I've just done.
In 2017, the Office for National Statistics said that around 3.48 million people in the UK were in employment. That means 3.48 million people who have gone through exactly what you're going through right now. 3.48 million people who have had first-day nerves. 3.48 million people who have jumped into the unknown right alongside you. One thing I can guarantee is that you aren't alone.
I recently started an apprenticeship. I am a Digital Learning Apprentice at a local college. I create resources for teachers to use in lessons to help teach and educate as well as train teachers in digital learning software and give advice. This is something I have never done before. Not just the whole digital learning thing, but the whole job thing - full stop. I had never had a job before doing this, so it's safe to say I was terrified. I'd known for a month that I was starting work soon but it didn't fully set in until the night before when I realised ‘oh damn. This is happening.’
I didn't sleep at all that last night before. My mind was working at a million miles an hour all night. What if they don't like me? What if I can't do what they expect? What if I make a mistake? All these things were tormenting me. Everyone says the interview is the hardest part, but for me actually starting the job was worse. In an interview, you're just talking about what you can do and why they should hire you. When you start the job, you have to prove it - you have to prove that they didn't make a mistake.
I'm now two weeks in and I know that I had nothing to worry about. I'm still learning and I'm going to make mistakes but they expect that, and when that happens, I pick myself up and fix it. I know how scared you are right now, but I want to help. A hypocrite I may be, for giving you these tips when I've admitted how terrified I was to start. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and now I'm in a position to tell you what may be helpful for you because I'm sure it would have been helpful for me.
Number 1. Don't be worried to make a mistake.
Everyone is scared of screwing up and doing something wrong. The thing about a job is it's a learning curve. Especially if you're an apprentice. The whole point of an apprenticeship is to learn and improve your skills during the course and to grow as an individual on the job. You won't be penalised for making a mistake, but you will have to fix it. So I say to you, don't be scared to make a mistake. Just be prepared to work your butt off to fix it. That's the important thing: it's okay to make a mistake, just make sure you fix it when you do.
Number 2. Ask for help if you need it.
As I said, don't be afraid to make a mistake. However, if you need help because you think you've made a mistake or you don't know what you're doing or you're scared to make a mistake then ask for it. Once again, you're learning. You can't expect to be an expert within ten minutes of being in the office. That's just not how it works. Sitting in silence never helped anybody. If you ask for help, you can learn how to do whatever you are struggling with and your employers will probably be happier that you are honest and practical rather than doing nothing because you don't know how to do it.
Number 3. Get to know your team.
When you start a new job, you join a new company with new colleagues and you become a part of a new team that you weren't a part of before. Something which I feel is really important is to get to know the people in your team. I have a lot of people in my office. I have my line manager, around 6 other senior colleagues and then a fellow apprentice. My line manager was the first person I met and having him there across the other side of the desk is such a comfort. He will help me with my work but we'll also talk about things like football and food and what we did at the weekend. We aren't best friends but I do class him as a friend, and one day I hope to class the whole team as a friend. Some companies have forums or social media profiles for their colleagues to join to get to know each other and have both work-related and non-work related conversations. If you can, join one of these before you start work. If you can't, like I couldn't, just make an effort when you get in the office and try and talk to everyone and learn about them and then you can tell them about yourself. Show how enthusiastic you are about working with them. Good working relationships can really improve both your experience at work and the quality of products and projects you produce.
No one ever said that being a part of the working world was easy, it's bound to be difficult at first but it will be easier. As I say, I'm two weeks in and loving every minute.
It's okay to be nervous at first, but the most important thing to remember is that you need to be excited and happy to get up and go to work every day. Do something you love.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.