8 reflections after starting a new job

Andrew Astleford
Published in
7 min readJul 6, 2021
Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

Starting a new job is a journey.

Each time I begin something new, I’m amazed at how much I discover about myself. In many ways, the experience freezes us in time. No matter our age or position in life, familiar themes creep into our minds.

“Will I succeed?”

“How do I become comfortable as fast as possible?”

“What are the best ways to earn my coworkers’ trust?”

Recently, I began as a UX content strategist at RingCentral. I wanted to write about my thoughts in my first two weeks as I encountered them. So I kept a journal and updated it each morning. Here are reflections and revelations from my opening steps in the job:

Day 1: Feeling back-to-school vibes on my first day

This morning, I woke up with major back-to-school vibes.

Transitions are interesting. As kids, they define our lives. When we’re old enough, we move from one grade level to the next, each step marking a rite of passage on our path to adulthood. There’s comfort and consistency in those transitions.

Then life becomes less predictable.

After our formal schooling ends, no one tells us how often we should live transitions. Change as a working adult is such a personal choice. So many factors influence whether we experience transitions. No matter our “why” behind a change, we must overcome the uncertainty that comes with what’s next.

Today, I’m thinking back to my younger self for inspiration.

I’ve transitioned to new, exciting chapters in my life before. I can do it again. I want to approach the coming weeks with a childlike wonder and look back one day at how far I’ve come.

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Day 2: Learning to gain comfort

“I like learning new things, so this will be invigorating for me.”

I wrote that message to a colleague on my first day. The words were sincere. But as I thought about the sentiment, I realized it was only partially true.

Yes, learning new things is exciting. More knowledge means growth, advancement, and fresh opportunity.

But if we’re honest, the situation represents a means to an end. We learn so we gain comfort and thrive.

I thought about that more after a whirlwind day of introductions, IT training, and HR forms. We can take knowledge for granted. Sometimes, we go through our professional lives on cruise control, confident in our direction. It’s easy to forget we earned confidence through hard work and time.

At some point, we were new. We tilted our heads toward a mountain we had to climb, with the possibilities endless.

Whenever I reach my destination, I’ll try to appreciate the effort it took to get there.

Day 3: Trying to breathe everything in

During a chat with a UX content teammate, I received advice that will stay with me.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

“Just breathe it in,” she said. “If it’s important, it will come back up.”

I needed that perspective. In many ways, starting a new job messes with our minds. It’s easy to place pressure on ourselves and overthink our opening days.


I have no idea. No one has demanded I grasp key concepts today, tomorrow, or next week. Everyone has been great.

Still, I’ve wanted to become comfortable as soon as possible. For some reason, I associate “understanding things quickly” with “I’m doing a good job.” Maybe that’s ambition. Maybe that’s ignorance.

Breathing it all in sounds better.

Ambition is good. I’m glad I have it. But we must care for ourselves, too. I’m going to be kinder to myself. I’m going to practice more patience.

My new world will take shape in time, and I trust I’ll grow with it.

Day 4: Appreciating structured onboarding

After this week, I’m a fan of structured onboarding experiences.

On my first day, my manager gave me a document that features a checklist with key people from the UX team to meet throughout my first month. He scheduled daily check-ins and meet-and-greet sessions with UX content teammates, designers, product managers, and more. I know desired actions to complete in my first four weeks. Expectations are clear.

Starting a new job can feel overwhelming, but structure eases the transition.

It also creates confidence. If there were uncertainty in these early days, my mind would wander. I’m glad my reality is different.

Planning unlocks potential. As a new hire, be thankful for structure in your schedule if you have it.

Day 5: Asking about small things for big impact

As someone new in my job, I’ve learned nothing is too small to ask about. In fact, some of the smallest topics can lead to habits that make life easier.

Last week, I spoke with a senior member of our UX content team about her work habits. It was fascinating to hear how she organized meeting notes, filed emails, managed time zone differences, and more.

Sounds like basic stuff, right?

Well, I’ve already used some of those ideas. I can see how they will make me confident and efficient as I do my job.

Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the so-called small things when we start a new role. But they aren’t that small. To crush our learning curve, it’s helpful to get tips from someone more experienced.

So ask! As a bonus, your curiosity shows ambition and a willingness to take advice.

Day 6: Getting to know me better

I was part of a meeting called “Getting to know you.” For about 45 minutes, my manager and I spoke about expectations.

We talked about how we could maximize our working relationship. He asked how I like to receive feedback, what motivates me, what I do to reward myself, and more.

“I’ve never thought about that.”

More than once, I caught myself saying those words. That’s revealing.

I’m 34. I’ve held more than a few positions in multiple industries. But I’ve rarely considered what’s important to me in a job.


I think it’s cultural. Often, we overlook ourselves. We don’t prioritize what would help us become our best. Instead, we grind through our daily to-do lists and try to impress our superiors, with survival as our motivator. It’s easy to get lost in the fog.

Sure, things like advancement, better pay, and a bigger title might drive us. Those have value, but they only go so far. Many times, we don’t dig deep enough.

This conversation was rewarding, thought-provoking. I’m glad I got to know myself a little better. It’s never too late.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Day 7: Joining the conversation

It’s never too early to join your team’s conversation.

Throughout these opening weeks, I’ve added my voice to multiple discussions. This has come with reservations. At times before speaking or typing, I’ve thought, “As the new person, what do I know?” or “Will I come off the wrong way?”

Still, I’ve tried to make myself uncomfortable. We can’t grow without a little discomfort.

Looking back, not everything I’ve shared has been perfect advice. But who among us is perfect? I’ve tried to offer thoughts while I have a new perspective.

When joining a team, it’s easy to limit ourselves. We all want to make a good impression. It would be simple to stay in the background, take everything in from afar, and share our thoughts when we’re acclimated.

But as I’ve grown with this work, I’ve learned putting myself out there is part of my process to become comfortable. Each moment represents a learning opportunity, a step forward.

In time, my perspective will become more refined.

Day 8: Embracing humility for the future

Here’s my theme for the past two weeks: constant growth and a need for humility.

I was on a call with a designer. We spoke about the area I’ll support. He walked me through the user interface.

After a while, I chimed in.

“This is like learning a new language,” I said. “The more I’m immersed in it, the better I’ll be.”

To me, everything comes down to that.

We can read best practices. We can listen during onboarding sessions. We can hear tips from people who traveled our paths before.

All that is good!

But when we’re new in a role, we must realize a few things: It takes hard work to ramp up, and the experience will humble us. So many times.

Early in your job, don’t be afraid of how little you know. It means you’re uncomfortable. It means you’re growing. It means you’ve validated why you sought a change.

I’m no expert. But as I’ve lived this time, I’ve tried to be pleasant and eager. I trust I’ll evolve a little each day.



Andrew Astleford

Atlanta-based content strategist. UX writer. Video maker. Lover of commas and keyframes.