This weekend I got to take some photos of a newborn – my niece, and of course she didn’t really want to open her eyes and preferred the comfort of as much swaddling as possible. I think in every new job we’re a bit like this newborn wanting to be comforted by a ultra-soft onboarding process and a lot of coddling. What can we do to help in the process and demonstrate our adulthood and independence, while still getting the information we need to do our job well?
1. No one expects you to figure it all out right away.
Especially if you’re an intern or a Jr. team member you can expect that the team around you is likely not expecting giant innovations from you out of the gate. In fact, you’ll have to tone down the innovations out of the gate even if you’re brilliant just so you can get the lay of the land as it currently stands.
2. Dive into the current process and really soak up what currently exists, not opportunities but wait a couple months before helping pivot based on opportunities you see.
3. Recognize the crucial things you have to accomplish to do your job well and set yourself up to consistently knock those out of the park, whether or not the peripheral things are perfect.
At an agency, if you’re the designer you are not the account manager. Generally if you’re a developer you won’t be the designer either – usually there are about 3, 4 or 5 key jurisdictions each team member has. For instance a web/ visual designers key jurisdictions might be “quoting out how long something will take,” “creating pixel perfect mockups in Adobe Illustrator or Sketch”, “Communicating to other team members like developers and account managers so we can do the best work possible,” and “enabling the sales person, and communicating with the client / selling the work.”
You can even boil this down even further into “design beautiful and effective websites,” and “communicate clearly and demonstrate the works value to team and client.” If you are a web designer and can’t do these two things you’re dead – it won’t matter that you didn’t take beautiful pictures of the office, set up the happy hour, or write ten blog posts. These critical functions should be focused on with a disproportionate amount of time and energy while you’re gaining traction with them.
Find the couple things that you have to do well no matter what to do your job effectively and emphasize them in your daily habits and routines. If you do this along with allowing yourself a little grace at the beginning (mastery takes a long time,) and soaking up the existing process before helping the team pivot, you’ll find your groove and knock it out of the park.