New job? Start off on the right foot

January 12, 2020
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Change Management
  • Competencies
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • am2020 Career Development
feet in yellow flats at start line with arrow

Job searches are often strategic: you weigh pros and cons; you compare salaries, benefits, and commutes; you know when and why you are making your move. But when you get that new position or promotion, do you continue being strategic? Or do you jump in with both feet, doing what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it, because that’s what got you the job -- right?

Although it’s great to be enthusiastic and want to make a splash, this is a situation where continued patience, planning, and preparation is likely to your benefit. 

“It’s important to think about entering a new job with strategy -- have a methodology,” said Amanda Rosales, Project Director, Division of Enrollment Management, Wayne State University. “You want to make a big impact as soon as you can, yes, but it’s also a great time to pause and take the opportunity to refresh your thinking.”

Rosales offered the following advice for strategic planning through your career change:

Align with what moves you. Starting with the interview, listen for questions that indicate whether the position is a good fit -- not only for your skills, but also your interests and style.

Learn from your mistakes. Be conscious of lessons you’ve learned in your past roles, and envision how to put that wisdom to work in your new role.

Welcome the challenge. It’s O.K. to be a little bit intimidated. Know you’re growing professionally and expanding your skillset. You can be both confident and humble.

Know your strengths. “Ask yourself: what am I bringing to the table? And how does it support this department’s goals?” Rosales said.

Understand your supervisor’s vision. Gather as much information as possible, understand expectations, and ask for clarification if needed. Request regular meetings with your supervisor.

Observe the culture. Gain understanding from all angles and see how the puzzle fits together before making any snap decisions.

“It’s O.K. to pause and observe,” Rosales said. “It might take two weeks or three months or a year before you understand the culture of the office and what’s happening well enough to make the right move.” 

Rosales, who has worked in higher education for 15 years, recently had the opportunity to make a splash in a new position when she became Project Director of Warrior Way Back, a debt forgiveness program for returning students with an outstanding debt at Wayne State University. The program has received national media attention.

"I wasn't necessarily able to execute all of these pointers perfectly in my last job transition," Rosales said. "But I will keep learning and implementing these lessons as I transition into new roles in the future." 

Join Rosales and other career-change mentors for the panel discussion “Hit the Ground Running” at AACRAO 2020 in New Orleans.

Learn more about this and related sessions and register now for the early-bird discount.