What have you identified as the most valuable resources to help you succeed in your new position?
My team members and colleagues throughout (omitted company name) HR and the company as a whole are invaluable to my learning about the extent of my own function and the overall business within which I operate. If there’s someone I don’t know yet, I send an email to introduce myself or schedule a call or lunch date. People serve as critical resources, whether they’re executives or interns, HR or other. Cross-functionality is key at (company) and highly valuable for professional growth. I’ve been here only six weeks and I’ve already interacted directly with our Chief HR executive, several SVPs, Sr. HRBPs for every region, and probably 80 percent of the entire global HR population that serves (company). When random questions come to me, this network I’ve built allows me to find solutions quickly.
What were the biggest obstacles as you aimed to transition into your new role?
I had several weeks of feeling like I wasn’t contributing. For a driven individual, it can be hard to feel aimless or unproductive, but I’ve learned that it’s just part of the transition. Managers know this, so guilt and frustration are unnecessary. Instead, I maximized my learning and experience by introducing myself to a variety of people in the organization, asking to sit in on meetings that would expose me to various projects, processes, and operations, and getting involved in the company’s social networks and employee groups. By the fourth week, and every subsequent day I know so much more than I knew in the beginning, which has given me a greater sense of worth and confidence. Take-home point: Don’t leave your development up to others. Find ways to self-improve every chance you get.
What has the transition from student to professional been like?
The schedule is the most uncomfortable adjustment; the salary is the least uncomfortable adjustment. In school, classes are sporadic and mixed with other events and part-time work. Each day may have a different schedule from the previous. In professional life, your life begins to revolve around the hours you’re working, which are longer and more static. Bedtimes get earlier and weekends become more precious.
What has been your biggest learning?
Be eager to learn, express interest in new projects, but NEVER spread yourself too thin. Managers are much happier if you can complete quality deliverables effectively. I’ve been praised for honestly saying that I don’t think I can take something else on at the moment, or that I’ll need an extension on certain new tasks because of all the other things on my plate.
If you could give one piece of advice to students as the near they start of their new positions what would it be?
Take notes, ask questions, and listen; be humbled by your inexperience but energized by an excitement to learn, improve, and excel. Learn from your managers but also find informal mentors who will promote your development and who inspire you to further your own professional and personal growth. Take advantage of any opportunities to meet with leaders and executives. Take advantage of networking opportunities. Take advantage of any offers to give feedback or ask questions, especially when the opportunities are given by someone high in the organization. Be bold, open to new experiences, and collaborative.
For my own personal sanity, I immediately located and joined the employee activities committee in our office in Santa Clara so that I could meet new people and work on more fun event planning. I also have become involved in our company social network, and have developed some ideas for groups to bring employees together around various causes and mutual interests. Finally, I joined and have begun helping develop the recently created Women’s Leadership Forum. These activities take maybe two hours a week.
Have you consulted a mentor (or mentors) during your first 90 days?
YES! This is highly important to me. It’s been my first HR job and first time working in a fast-paced tech business. Without people to cheerlead for my development and help me find projects, I would have not adjusted so well to the transition. I report to one manager, who is at the senior director level. This is great because despite his packed schedule, he fits in one-on-one time with me, as well as allows me to sit in on his meetings and contribute to his projects. In just six weeks, I’ve played with the big boys for most of my projects. The downside is that he’s on the east coast while I’m in California. As such, I’ve reached out to several people on site and gotten involved in a number of projects with them to advance my learning and contribution as quickly as possible.