Fact: when you’re new, you’re going to be overwhelmed. That happened to me. Twice.
You see, I was an accounting graduate. I had my internship at an audit firm. I even requested to rotate between audit & tax departments during my 6 months internship. I was doing fine in both departments. The audit partner offered me to work there after I finished my internship. I liked what I was doing. But somehow, I wanted a challenge. To tap into a job & industry that my fellow course mates wouldn’t naturally choose. So I joined the management trainee programme of an international retail company. No, not in finance department, though they offered me when I applied. I joined the Commercial department.
You thought it’s easy to join Commercial department when you have a degree in accounting? You thought wrong! The reporting was a whole lot different. I remembered I know nothing about merchandise planning when I joined. Total clueless.
And then i changed job. In a manufacturing industry, supplying metal stamping parts. And i was in the supply chain department, in charge of the material ordering. Again, clueless. I have never looked at any production plan before, let alone understanding it & using it to purchase raw material.
So what did I do?
1. Study the business
Yes, you hear me right. Study. Just because you already have a degree, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need to study for your career.
Before i went for my job (and interview) in the retail industry in the commercial department, I bought a very good book on retail buying & merchandise planning. I studied every single thing about the industry, and the position that i was applying. It was a great investment.
When i moved to manufacturing industry, I bought a book on operations management, relating to production planning & forecasting. During my first week at the company, I took the time to study every single report that can be found in the server. I even studied the formulas, even for reports that were prepared by other people. And then i started to understand bit by bit.
2. Ask questions – even the basic ones
You see, I have never felt ashamed to ask questions. But of course, I try to search for the answers myself, first, before I ask the questions. It’s called an effort, and employers love effort.
If you don’t understand anything, just be honest and say you don’t understand. For instance, when I first joined manufacturing industry, I have no idea what is Bill of Material, Weld On, CBU, etc. I can’t differentiate between In House Stamping & In House Assembly. Wait, I didn’t even know what is stamping & assembly!
So I set a time with people to learn on the terms & reporting. I went direct to the people who prepared the reports. I waited for them to be free. Then I asked all the questions that was listed in my notebook. What a great insight I managed to get from them!
3. Get organised
Invest in a good organiser. Take notes. Make every meeting a new learning. Compile all of your notes in one book. You’ll never know when it comes handy.
Those are the three key things to learn fast for a new hire. Hope it helps in your career!