New job anxiety.
April 3, 2010 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Just started a new job and I've become HORRIFIED by life. How do I stop panicking?

I just started at my new job last week, and I feel like I've gotten in way over my head. It's my first job out of college since May, in the industry that I always [thought] I wanted to work in, but now I'm feeling pangs of panic every day about it:

- There is more responsibility involved than I've ever been used to in my life. I feel like if I fail, my "career" will be ruined. I don't know how to perform any of my tasks yet. I'm still being trained, but eventually my actions will either be successful or else I really screw the company over big time. I am being trained starting from scratch and am afraid I will never learn how to do this job.

- I'm extremely intimidated by the people I work with. They are a lot more experienced and older than me and I don't feel like I connect with them. As a result, I am very quiet at work. I am used to jobs where I can chat and joke with my coworkers.

- I'm extremely depressed that I might have chosen the wrong industry to pursue a career in. Everyone is so stressed all the time - which I knew was inevitable but not to this extent, and I can't help but think "that's going to be me soon."

- Very long hours - I feel like if I wake up at 6am and get home at 7pm, I only have 3 or 4 free hours a day before I can get a good 7 or 8 hours of sleep and not be extremely tired the next day. I feel like my life is gone, which I know is over-dramatic but it's still a rough transition to go from doing nothing all day to this and I'm looking for ways to get used to it.

I know that this is just part of growing up, becoming an adult, "welcome to the real world" etc...and I also know that no one is "married" to their job and that I can always quit or look for a new job if it gets so rough that I can't take it anymore. But for some reason I'm not grasping these concepts and instead feeling like everything is going to lead to failure - either career failure or life-balance/happiness failure. I panic at random moments throughout the day and extremely powerful feelings of anxiety wave in and out of me. I can't sleep and I've also been a lot quieter when around my friends and family. When someone congratulates me on the job and says something like "that's awesome, that's the job you always wanted right?" I pretty much want to cry (but manage to squeak out a "yup").

I feel like I'm being over-dramatic, over-exaggerating and like I need to suck it up. Even having a job in this economy is lucky, let alone in your "dream industry". I feel like an old person already looking back on their youth - "I should have traveled more" or "I should have done more crazy things when I had less responsibility". I feel as guilty for having ridiculous thoughts as I am depressed about these prospects becoming reality.

How do I get myself out of these feelings? How do I convince myself that things will get better with time and that I'll get used to this? I want to look back on this post in a few months and laugh at how silly and dramatic I was acting, but I don't know how to reach that point.

Any tips, anecdotes, or different perspectives to chew on would be really helpful. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (37 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Deep breath! It will get better.

I'm educated and experienced in my field, and I never feel like I know what the hell is going on with a new job until at least a few months in. Nobody there is expecting you to be an expert right out of the gate. They know this is your first job and they know it will take some time until you learn the ropes. Don't be afraid to befriend a couple of people at work and ask them questions about the company and the industry; I know I would definitely be flattered and eager to help if a young new employee asked me for advice. Everybody may seem stressed in the office, but they've all got to eat - ask a coworker or your boss if they'd like to go to lunch with you.

Give yourself a break here. It will take some time to feel comfortable. College to a full time job is a huge transition, even if you're 100% sure about where you want to be. It may turn out that this job and industry are not for you, and that is absolutely okay. Just don't give up quite yet.
posted by something something at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It would help a lot if you told us what industry you're in, or what kind of work you're doing.

I'm still being trained, but eventually my actions will either be successful or else I really screw the company over big time.... I feel like I'm being over-dramatic, over-exaggerating and like I need to suck it up.

Yeah, see, here it makes a difference in the answers we give you, depending on whether your job is "Secret Service Agent" or "Collections Agent" or "Purchasing Agent".
posted by orthogonality at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've had lots of jobs, and I go through a panic phase just like this with every one of them! Every time I swear I'm just going to keep X job for the rest of my life to avoid it.

Things really will mellow out over time. Hang in there!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:03 AM on April 3, 2010

My husband and I are in our mid to late 30s and when one of us starts a new job, that person gets a two-week pass on...everything, really, except hygiene and actually going to work. Starting a new job is exhausting, your brain is trying to assemble entirely new scaffolding for everything from new names and faces to the phone system to, you know, actually trying to do your job. Learning is neurologically hard on the system, so what you're feeling is normal.

So you can't make all the symptoms instantly go away, but something you can work on is getting out of your own way. Embrace that you don't know anything yet, keep your eye out for the people who can teach you things and appreciate them. When you find yourself anxious, don't spiral up and make it worse, just ride it and take a deep breath and keep moving.

Maybe, six months from now, you'll be able to really start to tell whether this job is right for you. It's normal at this point to be wondering what the hell you got yourself into, doubly so if you're making a huge change, like your first post-college job.

Sleep enough, eat as well as you can, get some gentle exercise, maybe excuse yourself from social and non-essential daily obligations just for a few weeks. You'll feel better soon.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:10 AM on April 3, 2010 [7 favorites]

I've been in my current job for coming up on 5 months now, and I'm just about comfortable with everything now.

You'll learn, and it'll get easier. And then they'll hire someone new and you'll watch them go through exactly the same thing.

If you are still struggling after 6 months, and I mean every day being a struggle, rather than being challenged occasionally, then maybe it would be time to think about doing something else.
posted by knapah at 8:15 AM on April 3, 2010

In the modern economy, average length in one job is 3-5 years. And there is definitely a trend for younger workers to switch jobs more often. (And changing jobs every 3-5 years is now a normal and healthy career path--in fact I worry about people who stay in the same job/with same company for more than that because the normal way to work up the career ladder now is via moving from company to company, not staying at one company and sort of working up in pay & responsibility. Obviously YMMV but this is a clear trend.)

My point in all of that is it may help your feelings of worry and anxiety to think about this job as having a clear, and relatively near term ending point rather than "OMG I'm going to be stuck here MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!1!!!1!!1!"

As in, think to yourself (though don't necessarily tell anyone else!), "I'm planning to be in this job 3 years max--UNLESS I am really loving it at that point, then I might stay longer."

Also related, whatever the duration of your training procedures, think of staying until the end of that and then making an evaluation. "I can make it through 2 more months of training." etc.

Partly this is helping you recognize that the feeling your having that you'll be 'trapped here for life' is just exactly that--a feeling. You're not actually trapped and you actually can leave at any time if you really want, and more especially, if you get to certain key points (say, end of your training period & you really don't feel you can do that job at that point--but I'll bet when you get to the end of that training you WILL feel capable enough to continue!) and it is best for you to leave, you will.

Partly it's the trick of, a person can survive just about anything for a limited period of time. So think of surviving that limited period, not the indefinite future.
posted by flug at 8:18 AM on April 3, 2010 [8 favorites]

Any major life change is really overwhelming. I think you're being pretty smart to really get just how big of a deal this is rather than just assuming this will be a breeze and not getting that it was something you had to work at until you're out the door. I've seen that happen to entry level employees before.

The bad news - this is a new environment and you may very well not have the joking, easy relationship with these coworkers that you've had at other jobs. I've had that at some places and not had that at others. It just depends on how many people have positions and/or life situations like yours.

The good news - you will most likely be given much slack because the most important thing people want to see is that you take your job seriously and that you're working hard at it. You've got that and I'm sure everyone can see it. You can't learn everything at once and nobody expects you to.

The advice - same as everybody else's. Massive self-care. Walks through the park. Drinks with friends if you're not too tired. Rest, rest, rest. And remember what this feels like - it's going to happen like 10 times worse if you ever have a baby. But I've said too much :)
posted by katyjack at 8:22 AM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also every day, every week, every month from here on out you'll be more comfortable in your job, with your coworkers, and with every part of the experience.

So do realize that (even if you end up staying there for 2 or 4 or 20 or 40 years), the hardest and most difficult time is right now and it's not like you're going to spend years & years feeling like you don't know much of anything or anyone.

You WILL learn and you will do it quickly. The company had a lot of confidence in you and your potential, or they would not have hired you, and you should have that same confidence in yourself.

You are PERFECTLY CAPABLE of doing this job (though at the same time allow yourself the possibility that you may *choose* to leave the job at some future date, but if/when you do so it will be because you make that choice not because you lack fundamental competence).
posted by flug at 8:26 AM on April 3, 2010

You say that when your friends or family ask about your job, you hide your desire to cry. Keeping up this front is making things much worse for you. They want to hear that you're having problems. If they love you, they would love to help you. If they envy you, they would love to hear you're having a hard time. Either way, you get to unburden yourself to another human being and, believe me, that is what you need right now.
posted by drdanger at 8:31 AM on April 3, 2010

Let me add to that: Close friends and family. Not coworkers!
posted by drdanger at 8:37 AM on April 3, 2010

You accepted the right job. A good job is one that gives you a chance to stretch, to learn, and to see what you can do that you didn't know. Had you picked a comfy job that was easy for you, in six months you'd be bored out of your mind.

You say the people at your work place are older, more experienced, smarter. They're your support network if you take advantage of it. People -love- to be asked questions to which they know the answer.

Hiring in the present economic environment is extremely competitive and you might be forgetting that you won a pageant. The betting at your company, and it was a big bet, is that you can do not only this job but the next level at least. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to hire someone and their wager is on you.
posted by jet_silver at 8:43 AM on April 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Very long hours - I feel like if I wake up at 6am and get home at 7pm, I only have 3 or 4 free hours a day before I can get a good 7 or 8 hours of sleep and not be extremely tired the next day.

Um, sorry to tell you this, but this is normal. This is what work is -- this is why it's called work. It's not just what you do, it's how long you do it and how much of your life it sucks up. This is why weekends are so valued.

I think your issues sound much less about this particular job and more about what the culture of work is like. And right now, you're in culture shock.

Almost any full-time professional job in any field will have these kinds of demands on your time. If you were a teacher, you'd have take-home work to do, like grading tests. If you were a fireman, you'd spend several days a week on call for 24 hours. If you were an ER doctor or almost any kind of nurse, you might pull some overnight shifts. If you were a young lawyer or an investment banker, you would be working 18 hour days and working on weekends too. Journalists, cab drivers, computer programmers who work for television networks and entertainment companies and are bound to their daily broadcast schedules for doing content updates (yeah, that last one was me)... This is the real world!

I feel like I'm being over-dramatic, over-exaggerating and like I need to suck it up.

Honestly? You do need to suck it up. You are fresh out of college, and given current employment rates, you should be grateful to have any job in this economy, much less have a job in a field that you like! Your focus now should be on getting the most experience that you can, sucking up all the things the job can teach you. Learn the ever-livin' crap out of your job; become really good at it. Meanwhile, you should be making connections with other people in your field, and quietly updating your resume. Then, if a year or two from now you still really want to leave, you'll have spent this time productively (if gruelingly) and can jump to something else.

So yeah, suck it up -- and good luck.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:00 AM on April 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Except for the long hours, this sounds like my first job. I was 16 and a high school co-op student. I was hired to be the telex operator. If I didn't send a telex out on time, or transposed a few numbers, millions of dollars could be lost, never mind me just losing my job. I remember barely being able to eat dinner when I got home during the first month or so because I had such a nervous stomach from the pressure. I also didn't dress right and heard about it, and I was easily the youngest employee there. But I stuck it out (thinking I'd keep the job until I graduated) and there actually came a time when the job became second nature to me. No more tummy aches, co-workers (even though much older than I) would invite me out to the bar after work. So it can and probably will get better for you. You know what you're doing, otherwise you wouldn't have been hired. Hang in there, and best of luck.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:06 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

The good news is that nobody at your new job expects you to know much of anything at this point...that's why they train you and will keep training and supervising you closely for quite a while I would guess. And as you learn how to do your job you'll notice how mistakes (which you will make because everybody does) are not the end of the world. There are always ways to prevent them, pick them up before any real harm is done or to minimise any damange once they have happened....everyone of your co-workers has faced the same challenges and everyone of them will have made the same errors you will make - what matters is how you fix an error and they'll also show you how to do that.

As others have said find somebody who is nice and approachable (not your direct supervisor) and start to ask them questions and get a bit of informal mentoring going.

Make sure you have some fun outside work to destress and absolutely talk to your friends and family about how you feel. You'll find that they have experienced similar transitions and will be glad to support you.

And without meaning to take away from the exhaustion and the worries you feel just now, you work less and sleep more than a lot of people, in particular anybody with young children. Your body and mind will adjust to these new demands and it will become a lot less exhausting once you get a bit more comfortable with your job and are no longer facing constant information overflow.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:08 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chill out this weekend and watch the movie Office Space. I was going to say "just kidding" but actually I'm not kidding. Jobs can be as stressful as you make them and everyone panics when they go into a new job/industry and you feel like everyone is speaking Chinese and you took French in high school. Here's what you can do:
--Go to work every day with a positive attitude
--Learn as much as you can every day (old people like it when young people ask them questions and treat them like they are Gods, it massages their ego and as a result, they want to help you even more)
--Become an expert at what you are doing (this might require after hours studying, reading industry magazines or blogs, etc)
--Take any and all extra training, projects, advancements you can get.
--After two or three years you will rock at the job and then have lots more options. If you still hate it, go back to grad school or something, if you decide you love it, you will have built up a network and a reputation by then so you can get a different job where you will be happier, or you may decide by then that your company is the greatest and never want to leave.
--IMPORTANT: save at least 10% of each paycheck (50% if possible). Having money in the bank gives you options so if after two or three years you totally hate the job you can at least pay for grad school or chuck it all and backpack around the world.
posted by MsKim at 9:19 AM on April 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

Points 1 & 2 are related, point 3 follows on from that, and point 4 is gonna change. You'll get more comfortable with your co-workers when you're more acclimated to your responsibilities and you'll feel like less of a failure. The hours will also get shorter as you get better.

In the meantime, you might spend a minute or two browsing Ask Metafilter questions by people who are stuck in boring jobs where they don't have enough responsibility. Don't sell yourself short, they hired you because they think you can do the job...and they know what the job is!
posted by rhizome at 9:30 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice up there. I'll just add that it sounds like you know the difference between doing an adequate vs competent vs good job. That puts you ahead of more people than you realize.

I've worked at a lot of companies, either as a contractor or a full-timer. I used to be astonished at how seldom people get fired for failing to do their job. I've stopped being astonished, but that's all that's changed. Incompetent, dispassionate, clueless, naive, unintelligent, mean, petty, short-sighted, untalented, unreliable, tactless, and/or drunk people still take up space in workplaces across the world. In some states it's downright difficult to fire people, even with cause.

My point is this: don't add pressure by indulging your fear of failure. It's likely that you'll get the opportunity to decide whether to take or leave the job once you've given it a real chance.

Approach each task you're given like you're a kid trying something for the first time. Kids are never afraid to fail, and they find out they can (and can't) do new things all the time without judgment.
posted by nadise at 9:38 AM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Congratulations on what sounds like a great job!

Okay, now you want to cry, and I understand why. What you're experiencing is a type of shock, a natural and common reaction to too much change and pressure in too short a period of time. As others have said, this is a very common experience when transitioning into a new job with significant new responsibilities, no matter what your level of experience. I've gone through this every time I've had a new job worth having. I know now to just prepare for this overwhelmed phase. As to the remedy, Lyn Never's advice is spot-on.

A few other thoughts about your co-workers: they may not be chatty-jokey right now (or ever), but they are training you from the ground up while also doing their own (much more important than yours) work. They sound very focused and professional. If they are stressed, they don't seem to be cracking, at least not from your description otherwise you'd have a whole set of other complaints about them, trust me. To me this makes them interesting. They sound like they've got it together and respect their work and respect you too, so I would pay attention to that and see if there's anything new to learn from them in that regard.

One thing I have discovered in the workplace is that the people who are really focused, get the job done, adapt to new situations with grace, and don't crack under pressure have all kinds of crazy-in-a-good-way things going on in the rest of their lives. Somehow they've found a way to make it work at work so they can get on with the rest. So, again, I'd pay attention to these folks and look beyond jokes and casual chats right now for interesting clues about who they are. And then write a note to your future self: years down the road, when you are in a similar situation, you're going to crack a few jokes to help the new kid out.
posted by beanie at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

My first "real" job was lifeguarding in a large amusement park. I was 17, and the park opened on the Victoria Day weekend (May long weekend, for non-Canadians ;). It was *crazy* hot that weekend (30 degrees C/86 F). I was working from 9 am until about 8 pm every day (Sat/Sun/Mon). The park was packed, and I was in the tiny kids area, so I was dealing with kids running around all over the place, and panicked that one of them was going to drown any second and I was going to miss it. I think I cried on the way home from work every night that weekend. I really didn't think I could do it.

Two years later, that became a story that I used when I was put in charge of the training program for park lifeguards. ;)

Now, maybe this job really *isn't* for you. But, what you are feeling is normal, and I'd say, give yourself some time.
posted by purlgurly at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Find a mentor.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:42 AM on April 3, 2010

Pretty much everyone here is right. Not only will it almost certainly get better; but it really doesn't do you any good to assume the worst if it's not going to change your planned course of action.

I'm a young person also working at my first (office) job, and you can MeMail me if you want to talk to someone you don't know IRL.
posted by tantivy at 10:43 AM on April 3, 2010

This was me a dozen years ago. I graduated from a decent school with good grades with a CS degree and got a job at a mature (400 person) start up that did very cool stuff. At first I was really excited, working for a big company on the 19th floor of a skyscraper downtown but after a few weeks I realized that I was totally in over my head and had no idea what I was doing. I'd probably logged 20 hours on a Unix machine total in college and suddenly was expected to be a Solaris/HPUX/AIX ANSI C systems programmer. I got really depressed and frustrated at my lack of ability and my crappy productivity. Eventually, my manager recognized my floundering and assigned a senior developer to be my mentor who held my hand and answered my 1001 stupid programming questions and basically saved my ass.

So go talk to your manager and tell him/her your frustration and see if you can get a little guidance and training. Management doesn't want you to fail any more than you do.

oh and the "wake up at 6 and not get home 'till 7" thing. That's a pretty standard working life, not much you can do about that.
posted by octothorpe at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not limited to post-college, you know. I'm 41 years old and just started a new job a month ago that feels EXACTLY like you feel - I'm finally in my dream field, but I'm also in waaaaaaaay over my head right now, I'll never be like these people, why even bother, I have no life any more, etc etc etc.

I talked with my boss yesterday, and told him I was feeling very frustrated. He told me "You know, we don't expect you to succeed at this job for at least a year - there's a lot to learn and we expect you to do nothing but absorb knowledge for the first six months, and then after that you'll be partnered with someone who will show you how we do things; after a year you'll be turned loose but still mentored".

And I gotta be honest, that was the best news I could have heard, because I was looking at the people I work with and thinking that they saw me as a failure before I'd even had a chance to start much. So, my advice to you is, go talk to your boss. Tell him/her you're feeling overwhelmed, and ask what the expectations are for you at this point - find out whether your perception of how you're doing is their reality. If it is, find out what you need to do better; if it's not, take that to heart and realize, as people have said here, it takes a while to get up to speed.

Above all else, hang in there - it WILL get better.
posted by pdb at 11:02 AM on April 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

Wow, I could have written this post. I started a new job last year, had to be totally trained from scratch, and at times I thought of quitting because I thought there was NO WAY I could learn how to do this job successfully. There was such an incredibly huge amount to learn, and I really didn't think I could do it. Everyone told me to just hang in there, that one day it would all click, but I didn't really believe them.

But you know what? They were right. Now it all seems I'm starting to get friendly with people at work who have done this job for years, and they all say that it took a long time for them to know what they were doing.

And I totally understand what you're saying about feeling like you're at work all the time with hardly any time to yourself in the evenings before you have to go to bed. Unfortunately, that's just how it is for most working people. It was a hard adjustment for me, but you do get somewhat used to it. Good luck and hang in there!
posted by shelayna at 12:03 PM on April 3, 2010

Oops, meant to type "Now it all seems familiar and much easier."
posted by shelayna at 12:27 PM on April 3, 2010

Chiming in to say that feeling that you are in over your head is normal. My rule of thumb when is that when moving to a new job you should be terrified and feeling incompetent for at least six months, otherwise you haven't moved far enough up the ladder. You are on your first rung of the career ladder, but I bet the same thing applies.

Congrats on the new job!
posted by Tapioca at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2010

Not sure if this will help, but I have almost ALWAYS felt that way at the beginning of a new job. I have also been a shy person for most of life so connecting to coworkers has always been challenging/intimidating.

At my last full-time job, I was able to final turn that around by adopting a slightly different philosophy. I aimed to achieve 2 things at that last job: 10 How can I learn as much as possible and 2) can I connect to a few other people (most new workplaces are clickish).

Anyways, these are a few things that I did that I think helped me succeed yet also connect to people. A few other posters have also touched on this:
• Pick 2 or 3 skills you want to learn. Identify who the “expert” is at your workplace (so for me…I went to the only editor on the team, or the person specialized in powerpoint, whatever. Approach the person during lunch and other times and tell this person that you would like to learn what they do so that whatever you produce (that will then go to this person) can be better. A few people worked with me on an individual basis. Don’t view it as a one-way benefit, if you can help the person – try to do something in return. I went the next step and tried to help my coworkers learn the skills too by working with my identified "expert" (I think everyone enjoyed it and benefitted from it )
• Go to lunch with your coworkers. Is there another new person? Ask that new person to lunch. What about the “experts” that you identified? Ask that person to go to lunch. I never had this philosophy before but if you make this effort now – these coworkers will help you out at this job and possibly other jobs in the future.
• Whatever you are making (a document? A slide deck?) – ask your supervisor for a really good sample before you start the project. You can probably self teach yourself a large part of it, but rather than “guessing” what the final product is supposed to be and also seeing what is categorized as good work may really help.
• Listen really carefully to your boss (or probe your boss). How did he or she learn the same skills? Is there a person they would recommend to teach you best practices for skill X? What does he or she read to keep up with the field?

As everyone states above, give yourself a break. For me, a lot of aerobic exercise helped at the end of the day, but YMMV.
posted by Wolfster at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2010

There are probably books and trade magazines that explain your career/industry and how to excel at it. Invest a lot (I mean a LOT) of extra time in finding and reading as much as possible. You can speed through the awkward phase at a job if you immerse yourself in studying the skills and knowledge you need to master it.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:08 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I could have written this question a year ago. Actually, I did (anonymously). Hang in there, take deep breaths when you start to panic, and don't be afraid to ask for help or guidance. They hired you, so they're not out to get you. They want you to succeed.

I know how stress making this can be, but honestly, take it day by day and soon you'll be a-ok.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:47 PM on April 3, 2010

It's normal. It'll take at least six months to settle in. Until then, expect every day to feel like you're being keel-hauled.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:59 PM on April 3, 2010

There's a story like this:
Henry Ford during the “dawn” of automation where his vehicles were being created on an automated assembly line. It seems that there was a breakdown that no one on his staff could diagnose. As the story goes, his production lines were down for hours; hours turned into days; and Henry was frustrated. In desperation he called an electrical engineer friend whom he trusted to come to his plant, diagnose, and repair the problem.

His friend promptly arrived. After spending about ten minutes the Ford lines were up and running. A most grateful Henry Ford thanked him and told his friend to invoice the Ford company for the repairs. A few days later Henry Ford received an invoice from his friend in the amount of $10,000. Flabergasted, Henry called his friend on the telephone and protested, “You only tinkered around for ten minutes! Ten-thousand dollars?! His friend agreed that he would re-invoice the repairs.

A few days later Henry Ford received a modified invoice: Tinkering-$10; Knowing Where to Tinker-$9,990.

The gist of it is gaining experience. Once you have that, you can relax. Getting there takes work. It's easier if you enjoy what you're doing. If not, look around and find something you do enjoy.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:12 PM on April 3, 2010

I don't know what industry you are in but this likely that this holds true: No one is going to die or go to jail if you fail. If you keep that in mind throughout your career, your stress level will go down dramatically.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:20 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

first off relax. If it is you first job, you have many years ahead of you. doing badly, at the start will not doom you for failure. there is no sham in asking questions, find a person in the office who is friendly and ask and learn as many things / question as you can
posted by happydude123 at 9:20 PM on April 3, 2010

Adding to the advice to talk to your manager about this. As a manager, if know that's how you're feeling there are ways I can help you. If I don't (and I might not notice unless you tell me, because you're probably doing a better job than you think you are), then it's hard for me to do much.
Also, seek out your peers - there must be someone else fairly close to entry-level around. You can be a real source of support for each other - I'm sure there are things you've figured out that they haven't yet!
posted by une_heure_pleine at 5:11 AM on April 4, 2010

I started in a new job doing web development a little over a year ago. And even though I'd been doing it for 10 years, I suddenly felt I was in over my head. This was completely different and more than a bit overwhelming. Trying to digest all the big and little pieces of responsibilities that went into this new job was like trying to get a sip of water from an open fire hydrant.

But, here it is a year later and that all seems absurd. It's amazing how much you can adapt and learn just by doing and persevering. And I'm an old(-ish) dog on the brink of turning 50.
posted by jrchaplin at 9:55 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I felt the same way for two years after I finished college. Yes, it took me that long to get with the routine of work. After that, you just get used to it.

In other words, I can sympathize. To make this into a larger point, this is largely the plight of the American worker. We work many more hours that workers in just about any country. We get significantly less vacation time, yet workers never really try to fight the system or get together as a group and demand change like they do in other countries. We experience continuing increases in productivity with little benefit to the individual. For example, right now productivity is at an all-time high (if I’m not mistaken) but most American workers have had their benefits slashed and their salaries lagging behind inflation.

If people don’t like it (and I can’t imagine why they would) they should consider organizing to make things change. I’m just sayin’.
posted by mintchip at 12:14 PM on April 6, 2010

Just to clarify my point above, which may have seemed unrelated to the original post...I think that work would be a lot more tolerable with 5 or 6 weeks vacation than it is with the standard 2 in the USA (which you typically only get after a 90-day trial period). I feel Americans live to work rather than the other way around. Just my two cents.
posted by mintchip at 12:20 PM on April 6, 2010

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