How To Master Your New Job (And Stop Feeling So Uncomfortable)

We Unbounders are an eclectic bunch, aren’t we? We come from all over, have astronomically different ideas and beliefs, and live lives as different from one another as our college experience is and was different from normal college students'. Despite our differences though, we all have at least one thing in common. We’ve all lived through the exact same uncomfortable start to very similar stories. We’ve all been the one to walk into an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, expecting ourselves to somehow preform an unfamiliar task and hope that we do it well enough to not fail catastrophically on the first day. At some point we’ve all known what it’s like to be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to quickly learn an entirely new skill set. It would even be an understatement to say that the beginning of this story was uncomfortable. Whether it was a new job or simply a new chapter of life, we all know what it’s like to be the new guy — to feel ignorant and incompetent, to worry about your ability to perform the task you’ve been hired to do, to hope and pray that you’ll grow and learn quickly, and to be afraid that you won't. It’s the same story told of every new hire or incoming freshman. At some point we’ve all known nothing, and at some point we’ve all had to learn. Something tells me that we’ll never be able to simply skip the beginning of this story. It’s a right of passage of sorts — a challenge that we must face. One that stretches us and forces us to grow into our new role. In that sense, the discomfort and fear of starting something new may actually be good for us. It may even be necessary. However, what if we could fast-forward through the uncomfortable parts? What if we could quickly grow into our new role? What if we could supercharge our ability to learn, significantly cutting down on the time it takes to acquire new skill sets. Instead of being the “new guy” for a month, what if you only had to be the “new guy” for a week? Identifying and understanding your learning style, and applying that knowledge during your first few days on the job, might just make that possible.

A Quick Overview on Learning Styles

I won’t get into the details of identifying your learning style here; a thorough understanding of the intricacies of your particular learning style can be just as fascinating as digging into your personality type, but we have more actionable things to talk about. However, here’s a quick overview of learning style types and a helpful link about careers that match your learning style.

Three Primary Learning Types

1. Auditory Learners If you’re an auditory learner, you understand information best when you hear it explained and you’re able to discuss the subject in-depth. You need to talk things through. What’s interesting about you weirdos, is that you don’t even need another person to discuss the information with. You can record yourself talking about the subject, then listen to the recording later, and that would still be one of the most effective ways for you to understand new information. Auditory learners make up about 30% of our population. 2. Visual Learners If you’re a visual learner, then you’re pretty normal (sorry). You understand new information best when you’re able to see it. You tend to understand information as patterns or logical progressions from one physically apparent form flowing into another. Visual learners make up about 65% of our population (See? All of us visual learners are actually pretty normal and not very special. Again, sorry.) 3. Kinesthetic Learners These people are the type of learners that we all like to say that we are, but in actuality, most of us are not. Kinesthetic learners understand new information either when they experience it for themselves, or when they can hold the new information in their hands. Despite the fact that everyone says they learn best by doing, in reality, only about 5% of our population actually understands new information best by doing or physically feeling. Kinesthetic learners are fairly rare.  If you’re unsure of what type of learner you are, here are a couple more links you may find useful: • •     

Strategies For Learning

Okay! With that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can supercharge your learning in the workplace and blow through the uncomfortable experience of being the new guy. Auditory Learners If you’re an auditory learner, It is very important for you to be able to discuss, listen, and ask questions when you’re trying to learn something new. Most new jobs will pair you, as a new hire, with another employee who has been on the job for some time as a part of your training. For you auditory learners, this person is your new best friend. Ask them a million questions, talk through not only the “what” of your new job, but also the “why,” the “when,” and the “how.” Don’t be timid. Don’t worry about bothering your new best friend with all of your questions. It’s part of their job to help you learn, and you learn best by talking and listening. That’s pretty simple, right? Ask questions. Everyone can and should be doing that in their first few weeks on a new job. Let's take this a step beyond the obvious. Convert Ineffective Training Material You should also find or create as much auditory training material as you possibly can. This means that if your new job gives you a welcome packet with important information in a written format, you should convert it by making a recording of yourself reading the crucial sections out loud, and then play that recording back. This will help you retain all of that information from day one.  Talk to Yourself It might also be helpful for you to keep an audio journal of everything you’ve learned in your first few weeks. Chances are that your phone or computer has some sort of audio recording software — use it. At the end of your workday, simply take 10-15 minutes and record yourself talking about the day, what you learned, what you need to learn, what successes you had, and anything else related to the job.  You can play the recordings back later to help you retain the information. Do Some “Research” You should also be eavesdropping (in a completely scientific and non-creepy way) on your coworkers and, if applicable, customers. Your coworkers have more experience than you, and without realizing it, often drop crucial nuggets of wisdom in their normal conversations. Listening to your customers, on the other hand, will give you a sense of their frustrations. Both will supply you with more questions to ask and critical knowledge that you can use to quickly feel competent and in control at your new job.

Visual Learners

For a visual learner, it’s all about patterns. In order to understand new information, you need to be able to see it in action; how it fits in the pattern of your new job and how it interacts with and affects the things around it. As a visual learner, you're going to be asking the same question over and over: “Can you show me that again?” Just be sure to look for the patterns in the actions of your coworkers when they show you something; look for the patterns in the buttons they press, or even the patterns in how a file is structured. Finding patterns is what you excel at, and also the key to supercharging your learning. That being said, let's get into some more actionable things you can do to quickly learn your new job. Create Patterns in Your Mind Use techniques like mind mapping or visualization to help you to see how new information is connected to things that you already know. You should do this as soon after observing the new information as possible, while the pattern is still fresh in your mind. The more connections you can make between new information and already-mastered information, the more you understand and retain that new information. Find Visual Resources When you’re off the clock, spend some time observing the skills or information that you need to master. For example, if you’re struggling with how to use a particular type of equipment or how to structure a particular block of code, chances are you can find a visual tutorial online. There are blog posts and YouTube tutorials on just about any subject you can imagine - be sure to use them.

Kinesthetic Learners

For a kinesthetic learner, your way of understanding new information is extremely straight-forward. You need to try, do, and physically experience the new information in action in order to understand it. No matter how many times a coworker explains something to you, no matter how many tutorials you look at, you will never truly understand something until you experience it for yourself. Just Do It It is crucial that you throw yourself completely into your new job. Kinesthetic learners have no choice but to force themselves to push hard through the uncomfortable experience of starting a new job. For example, If your comfort zone is limiting you (you chose not to do something on the job because it’s a little scary, or you’re not sure if you can do it) from doing anything in the workplace, this is your indicator of what you’ll be trying next. And by next, of course I mean as soon as humanly possible. Every time you go into work, your goal should be to do as many uncomfortable things as you possibly can. This is extremely important for you as a kinesthetic learner, because the longer you wait to actually, physically, do every aspect of your new job, the longer it takes for you to learn the new job. No amount of study can replace practice for kinesthetic learners. So if you’re a kinesthetic learner and you want to supercharge your learning in a new workplace, your technique is the most simple: force yourself to do anything that makes you uncomfortable as soon as humanly possible, then do it again and again until you have it mastered.


Starting something new is always uncomfortable. Learning a new skill, growing into a new job, these things always take time. But if we understand our most effective learning style and implement learning strategies tailored specifically to our learning style, it’s definitely possible learn and grow at an accelerated rate. And the faster we learn, the less time we spend as the “new guy.”. Written by Wyatt Dalton

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