The Newbie

#SAchat focused on how to make new staff members feel welcome at their jobs this week. Since I was working at my new job during the chat, I chimed in with my own thoughts just a few times. One question addressed what has been done to make you feel welcome as a new member. With 140 characters and a crunch for time, I mentioned the call I got from my director and the training scavenger hunt I did. A few people said they would feel overwhelmed by the process, but I tried to hastily explain, “No, no, no! It was perfect for my new college setting! And I loved it! Ack!” given the smaller feel of the community college and the willingness of other employees to converse with the brand-new employee.

And really, it’s been much, much more than those few things that have helped me begin to integrate into my new setting.

Even before I started, I was welcomed via phone by not just my supervisor, but also our director. When I arrived, my name was already on the entrance of my space, with little to indicate that I was stepping into a space that used to belong to someone else. It was my work space from the start.

My department took me to lunch the first day.

Human Resources gave me a training binder that not only required me to complete modules and worksheets, but to talk to people and to explore my new setting.

I was even invited to attend trivia night at the end of my first week.

I am included in campus events, and I shadow my colleagues during advising sessions and presentations. I have regular meetings with my supervisor. We close emails with smiley faces now and then. I am introduced at meetings, and people are genuinely interested in the academic and professional experience I already have.

This is a two-year institution that is proud of where it has come from, and it has set many strong goals for itself due to the foresight of its administration. This is an institution that doesn’t just display its Mission Statement for show; I see the commitment to enriching students’ lives and enriching the community. And I see that by integrating new members by orienting them to not just their jobs, but the campus culture.

Of course, how each department and institution approaches welcoming people will differ. And that’s good! I like exploring and independent projects, but that would have been nightmareish on a bigger campus. I could not imagine replicating all the orientation activities I did at Oregon State University or even smaller Western Washington University. That would have resulted in something scary–although probably very humorous in hindsight.

In essence, the trick to integrating new staffers seems to center around not just job processes, but the social and cultural aspect. And why wouldn’t it–we’re all social and cultural beings. (Don’t shake your head, Reclusive Gamer!)

As Week 3 of the new job winds down, I am settling happily into my penguin den. Is that what penguins live in?

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