Starting A New Job Is Like Visiting A Foreign Country

Starting a new job is like visiting a foreign country: everything’s unfamiliar, and you can’t rely on previous relationships, routines and assumptions.

Changing companies can be a daunting experience for most at the best of times. Moving from your first job of Trainee Accountant and the comfort zone of the firm to the ‘unknown’ commercial space even more so.

The following first-hand experience was shared by Hilton van Wyk. Not only did Hilton leave the security of the firm, but he also accepted an audit contract on the West Coast, leaving friends behind as well.

At the start, my first job after articles was a daunting experience for me. Especially because of the fact that I was away from everybody and everything I have ever known. When I arrived for my first day I didn’t even have a permanent place to stay. The West Coast was so foreign to me I might as well have been in another country. I had to undergo orientation and a medical exam. It was the first time that I was subjected to a drug test. I felt like a criminal peeing into a cup in front of somebody who I have never met.

New Job - The First Step Towards Getting Somewhere Is To Decide That You Are Not Going To Stay Where You Are

I had to undergo safety training. I was told to look out for forklifts and always watch my step. I thought to myself, ‘What dangerous place did I end up at?’. Everything was foreign to me. I did not know where anything was. When I first wanted to go to the kitchen I had to ask somebody for directions. When I wanted to print something I had to ask somebody. After the first day, I wanted to pack up my things and never come back. But I decided to stay the first week, and if it did not get any better I was not coming back the next Monday. I decided to take each day as it comes and keep an open mind and embrace each new challenge that came my way.

During articles, you are so used to mostly engaging with people who are close to your age, as it was during college and school. Suddenly I’m working with people who are 20 to 30 years older than me. I have to work with people who don’t all come from an auditing background. It was challenging at first, but later I began to appreciate this because you can learn much more from people who are different from you. One of my best friends that I met there was a different race and 30 years older than me. We ended up living together and are still very good friends to this day.

My manager was also very helpful. He was a CA and helped me a lot with bridging the gap between the skills that I had learned during college and articles, and the application of them into a commercial environment.

Later I found myself joking with the people in the office. I was even invited to go for drinks after work. The people on the West Coast are very down to earth and friendly, unlike here in the city.

Before I knew it a new person started to work there and it was all over. I was not the new guy anymore. I was now the guy telling the new guy how to use the printer and where the bathroom key was. The thing about starting a new job is that you have to accept the fact that the first day is not going to be nice, but you have to remember the second day is always better than the first and the third better than the second and so on.

If you don’t understand something, just ask for help. You are new, deal with it. You are not supposed to know how everything works and where everything is. It will all come in time. People are generally very helpful to the new guy. Try to make friends as soon as possible and try to engage with people outside the work setting because that’s where you make the transition from being a colleague to a friend.

I was very sad when it came time for me to leave the West Coast. They gave me a going away party and as I sat there looking at everybody, I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t know any of these people a few months ago and now I don’t want to leave.’ I have a lot of great memories of the West Coast and I met a lot of great people. I was just glad I decided to come back the second day.

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We would love to hear about your experience with starting a new job. What is the best advice you would share with anyone about to experience this change or thinking of remaining with the firm, afraid of the unknown?

Please feel free to comment your experience below. You could be helping someone reading this.

If you would like to chat with an experienced recruitment consultant, please do send us your CV and we will arrange a suitable time to discuss your career aspirations.

Written by Hilton van Wyk and recruitment consultant, Pat Stinton –


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