Thursday, August 18, 2016

The stresses of starting a new job

Starting any new job can be incredibly stressful.  It doesn't matter if it's in Aerospace or not. That being said there's something oddly terrifying about starting a dream job launching rockets.  Don't get me wrong. I love what I do, but.... What if I mess up? What if the rocket blows up? What if it's all my fault, and it comes back to me, and I get fired, and there goes my career, and my life is ruined, my life is over, WHAT WILL I DO!?!?! ............

Ok, now that we've been reminded of the absolute most extreme positively worst thing that can happen, let's take a step back. :)

Here are the 5 things I've learned from starting a new job:

1. You are NOT perfect. 
Let's be real with each other. You WILL make mistakes at a brand new job. Even if you've had 30 years experience. Embracing this fact makes the world a lot less scary and takes away the extra anxiety that the type A personalities (such as myself) tend to put on themselves.  Things happen. As long as you learn from that mistake (and I mean GENUINELY learn, not just "yeah yeah I know"), and do everything in your power to rectify it, everything will be ok. No one will look at you cross-eyed in the hallway, no one will give you grief. Wanna know why? Because chances are they've made that same mistake maybe even two or three times before you.

2. Take it easy. 
We have all heard this before, but Rome was not built in a day. You will not know every little acronym, analysis, or forcing function thrown your way off the top of your head. Don't rush through your work. Rushing only causes more mistakes, and means you haven't fully taken the time to understand what you are doing. Are you able to explain the details of the work that you do? Do the results make sense? If not, there might be a problem with how fast you are going.  If you get something done quickly, then great! Give yourself a pat on the back and feel good. If it took you a while to get that analysis done or that drawing change done, don't sweat it! Patience is a virtue for a reason.

3. There is always someone better than you, but NEVER stop questioning/asking questions. 
You may work with people who have just started and know nothing, or with people who have been an expert in their field for 40 years. Regardless of the background/history/heritage, always ask questions and never stop wondering why. Innovation comes when human beings question the status quo, when we ask "Can this be better?" or "Why does it have to be done this way?" Some people get stuck in their ways, and it's a good thing that you are there as a fresh set of eyes. Seeing something for the first time means you offer a new perspective. Now I'm not saying be a jerk, and tell the certified engineer who happens to be a fellow and AIAA tech lead "You're wrong, that's not right, butt head." However, you could say "Can you explain to me why this Navigation system uses this this this and this instead of methods A,B,C,and D?" Engineers LOVE to talk about what they do. Give them a chance to tell you why, and show you how awesome your new job will be ;)

4. It's going to feel overwhelming. You are going to feel like you are drinking water from a fire hose.
But honestly, if it doesn't feel overwhelming or like a brain overload, then you might be doing it wrong. Even if you have experience in that field, take the time to learn as much about everything as you can.

Credit to Jorge Cham 

5. Stop trying so hard.  
There will always be people who don't like you at first, who feel threatened by your presence, or simply disagree with the fact that you were hired in the first place. Don't worry about those people. Focus on you. I know that's easier said than done, but let's be real. There are always people in life who won't like you, and you can't change that. Let them be. If anything, they are missing out on an amazing person and a good time ;) Give yourself some credit and realize that just because someone on the team doesn't like you, doesn't mean it's the end of the world, or that the rest of the team feels the same way. Maybe that person needs to work through some of their own issues, or they are going through a hard time. No, that doesn't make it right that they didn't give you a chance, or they treated you poorly, but let them be. Let them deal with their own issues. You just started a new job, you've got bigger and more important things to worry about.  ;)

Love from your favorite Aerospace geek,


  1. Awesome advice, Anne. Starting a new job can be scary, but you are totally right!

  2. Congrats on the new job! As a fellow Aerospace industry person (electrical, though), I'd add that most decent engineers understand that the firehose feeling doesn't stop for at least 6 months and will either remember to slow down or patiently answer questions that you feel you should know the answer to (and don't really want to ask!). After about 6 months, the firehose will slow down to a garden hose (and you'll know and understand all the acronyms), and you'll feel more comfortable.
    And don't worry about messing up all on your own. That's why we have peer review (and hopefully your co-workers take that as seriously as they do their own designs).


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