Getting intimate with a new industry

Getting intimate with a person seems to take much less time than getting intimate with a specific new industry. If you have studied business or a social science, starting a new job in your twenties usually means starting to study again. From scratch.

The industry-specific jargon is the smallest problem you will have.

One career fair — dozens of industry fields. (Photo by Anita Borg Institute, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Earlier this year I worked for a startup in the travel technology industry as a sales and marketing executive. My experience in tourism? A few trips to Asia and the summer holidays at the Black Sea. My experience in travel tech? None. The chief developers of the company sent me a dozen pdfs. The CMO kept on explaining the dirty secrets of the industry but still the learning process took too much time.

No matter what you have achieved before, you’ll be terribly inefficient. Explaining what your product does is hard, writing emails lasts for ages, you are bothering your superiors again and again.

You are dangerous. Meeting experienced professionals means constantly facing the risk of hurting your company’s reputation.

So how to decrease your time-to-efficiency?

So here are a few ideas:

Negotiate an unofficial sandbox period. Tell your colleagues and bosses that you’ll need these 3 months to learn and make mistakes without any big impact. Do not assume that they will constantly keep in mind that you are new.

Choose your tasks strategically. Take tasks you have previous experience with. You won’t hurt the company and you’ll have time to learn in parallel.

Stick to your old tools. Using a new computer, a new operation system or a program is stressful, so better bring your own device and programs for a while.

Learn five industry-specific words a day. Directly after getting to the office in the morning is the best time. You’ll start the day with a small achievement and will know the lingo in less than two months. Here is a list of industry -specific glossaries.

Reduce insecurity with a ritual. A simple pleasant activity like preparing your morning coffee in the office will decrease your stress levels.

Go to YouTube. Instead of checking the latest failarmy or cat videos, get a look at your biggest competitors’ commercials or an interview with the best industry experts.

Right now, I’m sitting in the office of PaperHive, a new organization in the scholarly communication field. Getting help from my colleagues has strongly reduced my time-to-efficiency. Still, if you have some good advice on increasing productivity, drop a line below or on twitter (@vremigrant).