I live in the northern Midwest, which, contrary to its placid reputation, is actually a land of extremes. In the summer, temperatures regularly reach the 90s and the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye would be, if we actually had elephants roaming the Wisconsin plains.
In winter, temperatures can hit zero or below, and the lakes freeze over.
It takes a certain amount of skill and mental toughness to, if you’ll pardon the expression, weather these changes.
I thought I’d share some things we extreme Midwesterners know, because I think they can help anyone adapt to a new job:
You’ve got to dress for it – In Wisconsin, you wear really different clothes at different times of year. Last night the low was 4 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s no time for flip-flops. You may have to change your style some when you switch jobs, too. And even if the dress code changes are more subtle than significant, keeping an eye out for differences in how people relate will help you acclimate to your new job.
What you need to watch out for changes – In the summer you think about sunburn and dehydration. In the winter, it’s frostbite and slippery roads. You’re likely to find new things to look out for at your new job, too. The most obvious difference is that while you might have been almost too familiar with systems at your old job, now even the expected can seem a bit obscure, kind of like your neighborhood after a big snowfall.
It takes longer to get places – In the summer, you can just walk out the door. In the winter, you’ve got to put on boots, coats, scarves, hats and gloves. If you’re driving, you have to scrape off your car and hope the roads are O.K. This adds to your travel time, and, if you’re always trying to beat the clock like I am, you need to factor it in. At a new job, you’ll need to factor in the fact that you don’t know how things are done. You don’t know their preferred formats or where the supply closet or bathrooms are. That’s stuff that can be learned. Learning how to navigate the flow of information, approval and authority can be more time-consuming.
All this might give you cold feet about starting a new job, but that’s not my intention. Winter in Wisconsin can be beautiful, and starting a new job can be exciting, but both do require a bit of adapting. Just try to give yourself time and avoid stomping on the brakes.
by Danielle Dresden