The Second Time Around

Angela J.A. Kent, Head Editor, INALJ-Virtual Work

The Second Time Around

angela.kentI recently returned from a conference that I attended for the first time last year and was very glad to have the opportunity to attend again this year. Last year, everything and practically everyone was new to me. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and, although there were first-timer tips and meetups to help me prepare, no one can ever quite know what to expect the first time around.

The same can be said for the workplace. Before your very first interview you can’t quite know exactly what to expect. Or your first day at your first job you likely experienced the same feelings of anticipation. On your first day at work, you don’t know where to put your lunch or what the dress code is really like, all while trying to understand office dynamics or finding the best way to approach your new boss with a question or idea. And, while this can remain true for the first day on any job, the very first time you encounter this may also mean not really knowing to expect these kinds of apprehensions.

It does get easier the second time around. While every interview can be different and every workplace has its own culture, there are still perennial events that the brain — once it has been experienced for the first time — can draw on to help understand the current situation. It’s why the memories of the first time we interview or start our first job can be far more vivid and memorable than the ones that follow. When we place ourselves in a situation we’ve never been in before, the brain is taking in both the small and insignificant, as well as the big and overall.

After that first interview, you know to anticipate that you should give yourself extra time to park or freshen up, you know that there will be small talk, or that you may be repeating yourself and your background to several different people. And it’s certainly one thing to read about how to prepare for an interview or even to do mock interviews, but you can’t ever really know what to expect until you’ve gone and done an interview. The same is true for work. If you start to remember your very first job (or maybe your very first full-time job or office job), those memories – particularly your very first day -are probably more vivid than others. Now, whenever you enter a new workplace, there are things you know to look out for or questions you should be trying to answer.

The first time around can be an exhilarating experience. But, the second time around can bring a lot of confidence to a situation. For me, this past conference allowed me to be a better “session crawler” (sitting in on parts of multiple concurrent sessions); a better conversationalist (particularly with meeting new people); and better at putting my ideas into action. Those same traits – multitasking, interacting with co-workers and clients, being a self-starter – carry over to the world of work. So, while the first day is one to remember, don’t take for granted the second time around.

This will be my last post as Head Editor for INALJ-Virtual Work. As with those before me, a new(ish) job and greater responsibilities at that job are taking away from time to volunteer. But as many of you who follow INALJ already come to expect, the site will continue to provide great job leads and read- worthy articles. I am grateful to have been a part of that.