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Olivia Vahsen 🥑 🦄
Olivia Vahsen 🥑 🦄

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WFH for Recent Grads Part 2: Swimming Upstream?

Alright, so it seems my first piece on working from home for those in junior roles, or simply just new to the tech world, got a good amount of love (at least for me!) so I wanted to continue it with even more tips which have accumulated over the years from myself and others. No matter what kind of tech role you might have, if you feel like you’re swimming upstream in a new position from home, this article is for you!

Practice Positive Visualization

When you’re under pressure to prove yourself at a new role, it’s more than easy to be focused on what can go wrong…. what you’re doing wrong, what others are doing wrong, what is wrong with your setup, your understanding… you can work yourself up into a real lather! Instead of walking yourself in negative circles, take some time (maybe a couple of times a day, whenever you need it), and think purposefully on what you /want/, instead of what you want to avoid. Make a plan for success, and keep a list of your own ideal goals purely for how your day to day tasks pan out — they can be monthly, weekly, or even daily!

Just write it down

Speaking of the above, if you feel lost, allow yourself time to collect your thoughts, and just… write them all down. Start with what you know you need to do. Go into as much detail as you need to. Recall comments from meetings, over message, and email if they pop into your brain.

When you’re done — write them again. This time, you can be shorter. Summarize, and make a concrete to-do list that does its best to fit on one page, so you can physically /see/ all you have to do. Does it look crowded? Will you miss details? Write it again! This might seem super tedious, but if you’re a visual learner, I promise it helps to have your tasks clear for the naked eye to see. As you build up your work habits, it won’t take all those iterations to plan your day.

What if….

Okay, okay, everyone’s mind goes here. Sometimes, if you’re so preoccupied with a less than best case scenario, it helps to tackle thinking about it head on, once and for all. What if the day arrives — the day when your manager actually tells you that you’re not doing such a great job, and you need to be on a PIP, or personal improvement plan?

It’s not the end of the world. Moreover, this is usually private. Most of your coworkers probably won’t know that you’re on a PIP, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed. A PIP doesn’t mean you’re one foot outside the door of your job, it just means you need to be a little more strategic.

Ask, Ask, Ask

Take a breather, and come up with concrete questions about your performance history. Ask for examples of where you went wrong and what you should have done. You might have an instinct to put it all out of your mind, but this is the best time to learn better habits from your former self. It isn’t fun or easy to take criticism about yourself, especially past events you can’t change, but handling it well and seeking opportunities to prove you’ve improved will be noticed will help your working reputation and be noticed.

Ask some more

In my last post, I mentioned having trusted coworkers whose work you admire. If you have anyone in mind, now might be the time to ask them for more substantial feedback and advice. Take those concrete examples and ask them for their perspective.

If you find yourself without resources, it’s not your fault.

Every so often, you might find yourself in a role where you’re just not doing well at all, and you just don’t have the tools for success to make big changes. Maybe your team isn’t well suited to you, your role isn’t clear, or you have too much work and nowhere to ask for advice. If this is you, reach out to other people in your circle, both professionally and personally — don’t isolate yourself— if you can, and don’t be hard on yourself. You’ll eventually find somewhere to start fresh.

All that said: Take a Deep Breath!

Above all, remember that today’s challenges aren’t here to stay. Regardless of if you go back into the office soon or not, you’ll meet more and more people from your company from your day to day tasks, and you /will/ adjust to your work. Someone will reply to that email you sent, and you will find people to better connect with as days go on. Just like life, your work can (and will) change — and if change is what you need, you still have so much potential and many opportunities to shift your work over time. Hang in there!

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