First Year At A Job And It Had To Be 2020!

Author: Zinhle Msibi

Most people will agree the year 2020 is in the running to be claimed the worst year in modern history.  The year that felt like a test we didn’t study for, the year that had people stocking up on copious amounts of toilet paper, the year that changed our ways of working and for me the year that changed how I started a new job.

Starting a new job can be nerve-racking and intimidating while being both exciting and positively challenging. The excitement of meeting your new colleagues, learning a new company culture and immersing yourself in the entire experience of being in a new environment. This however wasn’t exactly what I had imagined nor what I had in mind when I faced the reality of starting a new job in the middle of a Global pandemic.

As we approach 14 months of the national lockdown, this has been my experience to start a job in the middle of a global crisis (with the irony being it’s a position at a leading PR & Crisis Communications agency).

So, what is it really like…

We form and develop our interpersonal skills by interacting with others, and our psyches are wired to grow mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically through interaction with those around us. The global crisis made interaction daunting and anxiety-inducing for seasoned and newly hired professionals who, much like me, were still trying to gain a sound understanding of their positions, colleagues and the idea of working from home.

The biggest challenge of our new environments is setting positive barriers, always maintaining a good work life-balance and taking care of one’s mental wellbeing. I have the fortunate privilege of working for an organisation that not only values its employee’s mental health but one that is always seeking new and innovative ways to support its employees during the pandemic. The notion of putting its people first not only boosted employee morale at the peak of a period of anxiety but also helped to lighten the burden of what was truly going on around us.

Here are a few other key observations:

  1. It okay to ask questions – Working in an office space allows you to walk over to a colleague’s desk and discus ways in which to tackle a task. Having only met a handful of the colleagues that form  part of the organisation, I found myself questioning simple tasks like phone calls, text messages or emails. Allow yourself to understand that it’s okay to ask questions, to learn and to be teachable.


  1. This is new to your colleagues too – while it may not feel like that for a long while, navigating a global pandemic is a new challenge for everyone in the organisation. From top tier management trickling to the department intern, feeling alone can set in early and the best way to combat this feeling is to communicate with your colleagues; you will most certainly learn a lot about them and realise that the uncertainty and nervousness that you face is like theirs. Joining meetings early and getting in a quick chat with a colleague is a good place to start to help you understand the company culture, its people and the way things work.


  1. Be patient with yourself – The first few months of a new job are often riddled with the overbearing need to perform tasks precisely. You will soon find out that while this seems like a perfect way to prove your performance, your manager is often happy to see you complete tasks to the best of your ability. Be patient with yourself and allow room for you to grow in your career and settle well into your craft.

While these are just three tips and tricks I have learnt while settling into my new role, I learn new things about the organisation and its people on a daily. I have been fortunate and regard it as a privilege to work in a team with compassionate leaders and colleagues who pride themselves in professional and personal development for all employees.

Adapt in your own way of working that is beneficial to you and fits best in the work that you do. 😊