After nearly 90 days in my new role at Echo Consulting, I can confidently confirm what many of you probably already know: change isn’t easy. My journey starting a new job in a new industry has brought a host of lessons already, many of which were hard learned by wading through uncertainty, confusion, and frustration.
But as I reflect on my first three months in my role, I can identify three key takeaways that stand out, and that I believe will shape the way I continue to grow in my role. My guess is that if you're starting a new job, setting up a new system, or trying anything new in life or your career, these lessons will ring true for you, too.
1 - Everything is Hard At First
This first lesson might sound intuitive to some, but it’s been helpful for me to call out the obvious: when you start something new, it’s probably not going to be easy. This makes sense, because starting something new inherently means that you’ve never done it before, and you have a lot of learning to do. But addressing this reality is a helpful way to not create an expectation that no matter what you do, you’ll seamlessly slide into expert level execution.
In joining the Echo team, I immediately found myself surrounded by new experiences. Like anyone onboarding into a new job, I had to meet my new colleagues and build a familiarity with the company processes and culture. But in addition, I was stepping into a new field. That means that part of my onboarding journey has been focused on understanding what Echo does, what the landscape of the project management industry looks like, and how I can use my skill set to contribute.
On the days where I’ve felt like a fish out of water, it’s been incredibly helpful to remember that my steep learning curve in my role doesn’t mean that I’m not a good fit for it; it just means that it’s new, and I should expect it to feel a little daunting.
2 - Work With What You Have
Onboarding would have been a lot more challenging if I truly didn’t have any skills or experience to offer the team. But that wasn’t the reality. Even if it feels like you have nothing tangible to offer, most people can contribute something to the team’s goals within their first 90 days.
For me, contributing to Echo started with something I know well: communication. I began my new role by engaging in team conversations, asking questions, and volunteering to help with projects in the ways that I felt I could.
As my onboarding journey continued, I’ve had lots of opportunities to dive in and contribute while supporting my own learning. In my first week, I explored Miro, a tool that’s quickly becoming a team favorite. A week later, I was able to leverage my graphic design experience to set up our Founder, Molly Yanus, with a fresh, up-to-date slide deck for a speaking event.
Since then, I’ve been getting more familiar with Echo’s work, and I’ve begun to see how my background in communication and management can fill a need for the team and the company as a whole. It feels good to know that after 90 days, my ability to help my team thrive will only increase.
There’s a lesson here that I hope to carry forward as I take on new responsibilities and projects, but it applies to anyone starting a new job: companies hire employees because of their experience and insights. Yes, it’s great to learn new tools and get familiar with company culture. But those things can be taught. Your unique perspective and approach to your work is what got you hired in the first place, and you can leverage that perspective any time, especially when you feel out of your depth.
Chances are, your team is hoping you’ll do exactly that.
3 - Trust the Process
Finally, my onboarding journey has been a constant practice in trusting the process. As someone who loves to think critically and find solutions to problems (a trait the entire Echo team shares) it can be challenging for me to lean into trust rather than problem solving. But what I’ve learned in onboarding so far is that trust and problem solving don’t need to be in conflict; with a little change of scale, I’ve learned that these approaches work hand in hand.
Each time I’ve run into a challenge at Echo, I’ve done my best to understand the obstacle and think critically about how I can surmount it. In many cases, the process of overcoming roadblocks has involved creative solutions and lots of trial and error.
If I were looking only at the short term experience of each challenge, I might be tempted to think that I’ve had a tumultuous run of things so far. Lots of ups and downs, lots of “wasted” effort trying to find the simplest solution. But if I zoom out and look back on my first 90 days, each of those challenges – and cycles of up and down – have been steadily moving me in the direction of growth. Yes, there have been some difficulties, but there has been more positive growth and progress overall.
If I were to plot my journey on a graph, everything is trending up. And as I look ahead and wonder what comes next in my role at Echo, I’m reminded that while there will certainly be more learning curves and challenges ahead, in the long run I can trust that I’m learning and evolving every step of the way.