Hello friends! Today I am introducing a new (hopefully) series all about life post college graduation. As you have probably noticed, my content on the blog has started to reflect the fact that I am no longer a college student. While I still have some college content to discuss, I want this blog to reflect myself and where I am.
Today I wanted the first post in this series to be about finding a social life in your new job and getting involved in general. But please let me be honest – I am still working on this! I’ve only been at my job for a month, and while I am starting to feel more involved, I know I still have a way to go. I wanted to share what I have been doing so far, and how you can start getting involved at your new job.
The Problem with College Graduation
If you are like me, college graduation meant a couple things. Moving away from my college town, moving away from my college friends, and starting a new job that makes me really busy. I went from close friends living in the same dorm freshman year, to on the same campus later on, and even while living in an apartment I could be at a friend’s house in minutes.
Graduation meant moving away from all those friends. I also didn’t move any closer to my best friend from high school, although I wish I could have. I moved to a completely new city, and while I did have my boyfriend, I had no other friends in the area. My first month here was pretty lonely, even after I started my part time job. I work part time at a restaurant, but I felt like I wasn’t connecting with the other people there – like we were at different points in our lives.
Although it was amazing to graduate from college, I miss how easy social events and being involved was.
Starting New Things
When you are a college grad, not only are you starting a brand new job – you are also starting a job in a brand new FIELD. There is so much to learn – no matter how well your college prepared you. Starting a new job is already so stressful, and that is compounded when it is doing the career you have spent 4 years preparing for.
If you aren’t careful, you can get so focused on learning your new job and trying to do every aspect of your job 100% that you will never build connections at your workplace or get involved in the culture of the place. I have to push myself not to be so focused on the work that I forget that people are what make work fun.
Thankfully, I have some great co-workers on my team who have helped me to get involved, and who have made a conscious effort to involve me. I have also had to step out of my shell to meet my coworkers and get involved in the workplace. Here are a few tips from my experiences so far.
If you can, eat at a communal location. Don’t stay cloistered at your desk or in your office. At first I was eating in my classroom, but after a few days I decided to start eating my lunch in the teacher’s lounge! It’s way more fun, and it is nice to talk to other adults during the day. This time also allows you to talk about non-work things and get to know your coworkers better. You might still want to eat alone some days, and that is okay. Try to eat in the lounge at least a couple days a week.
Most employers offer opportunities for employees to be involved. Whether company picnics, parties, volunteer positions, signing up for an additional activity, etc, there are ways to show you want to be involved.
I got an email to participate in a program where I would be paired up with a student to set goals with them each day and work on improving specific things. At first I denied it because I didn’t think I knew enough, or wouldn’t be good at it. Then, I changed my mind and signed up. I had to ask some questions, but I am so thankful I did!
When your coworkers invite you out, try to say yes. Especially when you are new – because if you say no the first few times, they will probably stop asking. For some reason, I tend to say no to social events I’m invited to – mostly out of social anxiety. When my coworkers asked me to go to a movie and dinner, however, I said yes (even though it meant spending some cash). It’s so great when you can see your co-workers outside of the workplace.
I also try to volunteer and step up when others ask for help. As a teacher, this may be easier than at some other workplaces, but I know at many places your coworkers might reach out asking for assistance. If it isn’t too much of a burden, try to help out. I’ve chaperoned a dance and helped cook for a pancake breakfast in my first month at the school.
My principal took notice and complimented me on throwing myself in and getting involved, which was nice to hear. Honestly though, I just want to immerse myself in the school and really get involved. I’ve worked at places before where I had no connections with other employees, and my time there was miserable. Other people are what make work fun.
If a coworker emails asking for help with something you are knowledgeable about, try to help them out! I have been able to make some connections by offering my skills with google apps. A lot of teachers at my school are unfamiliar with classroom and drive.
Be careful not to over commit yourself, but don’t be afraid of stepping up to the plate just because you’re the new person.
Throw Yourself In
To me, starting a new job is kind of like college welcome week. If you are super reserved and hold back, you won’t make those connections that will probably last you all through college (or your job). When your job has some fun activities outside of work, or maybe a tradition that everyone does – jump in! If on every Friday, people wear crazy socks – do it! I’m not saying you have to conform, but trying to fit in with the company culture can definitely help you feel more connected.
I have let social anxiety and fear stop me from making a lot of friends and connections. At this new school, I have been making an effort not to do that. While I may not become friends with everyone, I have been trying to talk to new people and be involved. It’s been going well so far (a month in) and I hope that someday soon I will feel I am truly a part of the school and the team.
Getting Involved in a New Community
Now this task I have not been doing as well at. If you moved to a new place for your job, chances are you don’t know anybody. I have been wanting to get more involved in my community but honestly have been slacking. I’m going to share a few tips that helped me get involved in my college town, and what I plan to do soon!
Although I am not a church-goer, I know one really great way to get involved is to join a church. There are plenty of other things to join as well, if you are not interested in that. I’m going to try and find a book club in my area that I can potentially join! If you are passionate about something, see if there is a club or organization you can join.
Go out into the community.
Staying at home and watching TV is never going to help you meet new people. If there are festivals, go out and check them out! Visit local restaurants and cafes, go to the library. Even if you don’t meet people, you can still become a part of the community when you participate.
Attend a city council meeting.
I have never done this, but my best friend loves going to city council meetings when she can. I think this is an interesting way to learn more about your community and how it is run and meet other people who are interested in local politics!
Say hello to neighbors.
I admit I am so bad at this. Having lived in apartment complexes the last 3 years, I have never met my neighbors. Neighbors can be awesome friends, or at least someone friendly in case you ever have an emergency! One day I will achieve my goal of introducing myself to my new neighbors (or is that something that only happens in book and TV?)
Honestly, I think being involved in your community and workplace can make your life way better. Even if you don’t have an instant best friend, just a friendly face make a bad day better. I love that I can go to work and chat and laugh with my coworkers. As much as I love my boyfriend, only a teacher can really understand some of the crazy stuff teachers see.
I can be pretty solitary, and tend to keep to myself unless other people ask me to do things. With these steps, I hope to change that and become a bit more open with others. I am so thankful for the close friends I have, because they have stuck with me all these years. Despite the fact that I’m not great at being the one to reach out and get in touch or make plans.
that this post can help you get involved in your workplace and community as a recent college graduate, or as anyone starting at a new job and wanting to get involved. I have a stack of grading to get done, but I have really been itching to write a blog post. I decided the grading could wait! If you have your own tips to share, please leave them in the comments below. I am still learning, so I would love to learn more about this topic!