A Fish on Land: Adjusting to a Company’s Work Culture

A Fish on Land: Adjusting to a Company’s Work Culture

By: Fiona Leung
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Nervous heart palpitations, a piercing adrenaline rush, and a case of the stutters; like many Co-op students on their first day at work, I had just been asked to present an introductory speech in front of my colleagues while riding a roller coaster of emotions. As I stood there, struggling to find the right words to say in order to blow everyone off their feet, I became completely tongue-tied. Looking back out at a sea of stares, I felt as out of place as a fish on land.

“Hi guys! My name is Fiona and I’m excited to learn new things," were the words finally uttered through my trembling lips. Once they were spoken, I nervously ran back to my seat, in need of even the slightest comfort available.

And that was my first day at work: simply awkward.

Perhaps I’m overdramatizing the event, but I do so in order to emphasize a message: first work days, first speeches, and many other “firsts” you’ll have during a Co-op work term can be nerve-racking! My first day at Advisor Websites, a global leader in website software for the financial industry, reflects the reality of some of the most embarrassing moments you may experience while transitioning into a new workplace. Still, walking down memory lane prompted me to realize that adjusting to the company environment and culture simply required time. Simply put: it’s natural to initially feel overwhelmed and intimidated, especially when you are working in an unfamiliar environment, yet it’s important to remember to have a little faith in yourself.  

Fast forward to the present day, and I am happily working in tech at Advisor Websites. That’s right, me! A Communication major and SIAT minor, working with HTML, CSS and other programming languages to assist financial advisors in updating their websites on a daily basis. The role I play within the company is one of the many reasons I love working at Advisor Websites; another is getting to be part of a company culture that amazes me each and every day. With its great start-up vibe and close knit atmosphere, I feel like an equal and appreciated member of the team. After I got over my initial nervousness, transitioning into my new company turned out to be almost effortless!

So, as a concluding note, here are a few pointers on what you can do to ensure a smooth transition into your new company’s work culture, and lessen the impact of feeling like a fish on land!:

1. Watch and learn

Part of fitting in is adopting the company’s work style. If the work attire is casual and relaxed, enjoy wearing your favourite pair of jeans to work. Alternatively, if work attire is generally sleek and polished, embrace the opportunity to cultivate a new and professional look for yourself. Also, if the company enjoys hosting team bonding activities such as foosball tournaments, join in on the fun and participate!

2. Take initiative

Just because you are the Co-op student does not mean your ideas and opinions are automatically less valuable than those of your seniors. Take advantage of opportunities to pitch in any creative ideas that you think can benefit the company. 

3. Don’t forget to have fun

Remember that although Co-op is focused on learning and gaining valuable work experience related to your field of interest, part of it is also about having fun and interacting with your colleagues to build a stronger team bond. After all, working in a place you love is just as significant as excelling in the work that you do.

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Posted on March 20, 2015