MEJ Masthead

12 Awkward Truths When Starting A New Job

Sarah Bown

So you’ve moved to a new city. You’ll be needing three things: a regular coffee joint with cute barista to shamelessly flirt with, a Fantastic Furniture loyalty card and a new job.

Unlike many people who call this fair state territory home I didn’t move here for my job. I arrived one dark April night jobless, carrying a blow up mattress and a Domino’s BBQ meatlovers pizza. Ok, two Domino’s BBQ meatlovers pizzas.

Thankfully not only have I bought an actual bed but I am now in the land of the employed (yay).

Looking back there are pros and cons.

I can’t do my morning cardio anymore (read: walking around Belconnen Westfield) and pjs are frowned upon as appropriate work attire but it’s good for my bank account. I can finally afford luxury items. Like dry shampoo. And bread.

After two months I’m on my way to becoming one of the “gang” (or at least it’s what I imagine my colleagues call it) but with every new job comes the inevitable settling in period.

You know the one.

You stand awkwardly in corners and lurk too close to the two people you have been introduced to. You sit in meetings avoiding eye contact and take a ridiculous amount of notes you will later file under “folder of completely useless information”. You start every sentence with ‘this might seem like an obvious question, but…’ and trial every coffee shop in a 1km radius like a mystery shopper in search of the perfect flat white.

We’ve all been there, but here are 12 awkward truths about starting a new job that everyone experiences but doesn’t talk about. Until now. You’re welcome.

1. When you tell your boss every time you get lunch, grab coffee or go to the toilet

Just in case they come to ask you something and wonder if you played hookie and went home. They give you a weird look. They don’t care. This isn’t school.

2. When you go to a farewell morning tea on your very first day…

And clap politely following a speech made by someone you haven’t met about someone you definitely won’t meet because they’re leaving. At least there is usually food.

3. When they haven’t got around to updating the name plate on your office/cubicle and people swing by:

“Oh Shane we need to discuss what our approach is following the meeting with Jennifer. Did you get those minutes for Jim? Has Haylee proofed the first draft yet? Wait. Who are you? Where’s Shane?”

“Snorkelling the Seychelles? In witness protection? Quit his job to get away from you?”


4. When you have to read the 248 page OH&S manual to determine that you do indeed know how not to burn your workplace down.

People applying for Australian citizenship do less reading. I’m pretty sure “If you like vegemite and can sing You’re The Voice, we want you” only takes up like one paragraph.

5. When you run out of topics of small talk to discuss with people you barely know.

“Yes I am settling in thank you”

“Yes everyone has been welcoming”

“Yes this morning was chilly”

“Sure Wendy can’t wait to have this same conversation tomorrow!”


6. When your boss told IT a week before you started and yet you still don’t have email.

Or a login account. Or a computer. What did we do in jobs before computers? Like, actual work?

7. When 2016 Planning Day happens to fall on your first day.

“So what do we think should be our Q4 targets under the revised ATH scheme approved by Brett from MLI last week?”

I’m sorry my brain seems to have exploded all over the floor. I’ll just clean that up. Be with you in a minnie.

8. When – two words: workplace acronyms.

9. When you try really hard to get a nice swipe card photo but fail.

Yet again. Hair sticking up? Ugly. Oversmiley? Borderline creepy.

10. When you’ve met so many people so quickly and can’t remember any of their faces:

“Sarah have you met Janine?”
At the same time:
Sarah: “No, I don’t think so, hi”
Janine: “Yes 10 minutes ago in the coffee room”
Open mouth. Insert foot. Chew. For best results repeat.

11. When IT decides it would be funny to list you as Mr Sarah Bown in the staff directory.

And the person who notifies you of it is your boss’s boss’s boss.

12. When you wonder how long you can keep using the “I’m new card”.

You estimate approx six months. In reality it’s probs like  three weeks.

New jobs are like underwear.

Everyone has them but some are unlucky to be wearing the pink frilly ones on the day it blows a gale and the whole of Marcus Clarke Street sees. Some pull off the whole new job thing well – the rest should maybe just blow off the first month and come back later.

Ultimately all you need to remember is how to get through the first month initiation with the least amount of damage. I recommend meditation and wine. Ok just wine.

New Girl in Town columnist Sarah is stoked to be writing for HerCanberra but would love to know what the readers want to hear! What did you find funnny/difficult/awkward about moving to Canberra and you’d like to read about it? Or if you’d just like to hear a bunch of jokes about three toed sloths wearing oversized clown shoes happy to do that too. Warning: that piece will be short. Comment here and let her know!


Sarah Bown

Sarah is fresh off the plane to Canberra and quickly realising she's not in Kansas anymore. She's a writer and marketing professional by day and spends her free time reading way too much self-help literature followed up by too much Pinot Gris. Sarah spent 2015 working in Mongolia sharing her marketing and communications skills with local organisations. Yes it was her choice, yes they have internet and no it's not next to Syria. She's in Canberra to write more, exercise more, meditate more and then proceed to do Option D: none of the above. Sarah shares more newbie tips, general hilarity and plenty of things to read while procrastinating doing actual work at More about the Author

  • Louise Victorsen

    Totally on point Ms Sarah!

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