Be proactive, learn from mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Starting a new job and adjusting to that new environment can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Tossing in a global pandemic that brings the entire world to a standstill three months into that new role does not make that situation any easier.

After graduating with a degree in advertising and marketing, I never pictured myself landing my first real job in a client service role at a financial firm. Adjusting to professional work life while learning a role in an entirely unfamiliar field was a challenge, compounded by a transition to remote work shortly after starting a new role. I worried about how I would learn what was expected of me and successfully perform my job while working from my basement.

For me, confidence was key. Instead of allowing self-doubt to take over as I worked remotely, I welcomed the situation and made the best of it. I had to be more proactive to stay in touch with colleagues and found that learning my new position through the pandemic proved to be beneficial in many respects. This baptism by fire ultimately helped me to develop the skills I needed to find success.

I had to learn to be humble and accept that I would make mistakes along the way, but by owning them and reviewing them with supervisors, I learned how to do better in the future. As Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

As a business leader, it’s important to understand that the key to success of your newest employees is providing the support of management and coworkers. Giving them access to people who are willing not only to answer questions but to patiently break down and review past situations allows them to learn from them and is essential in creating a solid foundation for a successful career. When a new employee is learning everything essentially from scratch, the availability of management and colleagues brings a sense of calm, knowing that they are able to reach out and lean on them whenever needed, regardless of the situation.

I am fortunate during this time to have learned valuable lessons that will help me throughout my professional career, ones that I believe everyone should take to heart. First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doing so is vital to achieve a successful career and work environment. The flipside is to always welcome questions from others who are learning. I was encouraged to ask questions by management and colleagues who were open to speaking with me without making me feel like a nuisance. In turn, I learned from their approach to newcomers and have adopted the same attitude.

Second, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. At some point, as a professional, you have to swim in the deep end. It won’t always go perfectly, but you will continue to improve and learn from your mistakes. A good management team will know when an employee is ready to take that next step and provide guidance and support along the way to help ensure success.

Nicholas S. Malik is assistant vice president, client service & support at Ancora