For Graduates (Part 2): 8 Tips on How to Adjust to Your New Job as a Project Manager

Linh Tran, Friday 28 August 2015 | Reading time: unknown

For Graduates: Adjusting to your new job as a project manager

Photo by Unsplash User Thomas Lefebvre

Congratulations on getting that job! You’re probably ecstatic now and are anticipating your first day. But it’s not all happy butterflies, is it? There’s also a little bit of uncertainty and worry - the well-known “first day jitters”. But rest assured: you’re not the only one who feels that way - and there are ways to overcome it. 

Starting at a new workplace is always a bit nerve-wrecking, particularly if it’s your first ‘real’ job. Everything is unfamiliar, you don’t know anybody and you feel self-conscious and maybe even a little afraid of making mistakes. That is completely normal and everybody goes through this when starting a new job. But there are measures you can take to make your first few weeks at your new workplace easier. Here are 10 tips on how to adjust to your new job as smoothly as possible.

1. Be prepared

The first tip is to start before your first day. You have probably already researched the firm for your application and interview, but now that you got the job, you need to prepare even more. The good news is that in times of social media, you can easily find background information beyond the official website to get a feel of the company and its employees. Are there are pictures of the team hanging out together in a more casual setting? Or are the gatherings more formal? Sure, the internet is not always a reliable source, and you should always take everything with a grain of salt, but these posts can be a good indicator of how the formality level at the company is. Alternatively, if you already know someone in the company, you can also ask them for tips and advice on things such as the dress code and other formalities.

2. Do your best and show initiative

As a new hire you will always be scrutinized by your supervisors and colleagues. They want to see what you can do and whether your skills measure up to what you have put on your resume. Don’t feel intimidated by that and use it as motivation to excel their expectations. You might have to put in longer hours, because the tasks are still unfamiliar and you need more time to get used to certain processes, but this will all pay off in the long run. Doing your best and putting effort into your work will also help people more easily forgive mistakes you will surely make in the beginning. 

You should also show initiative right from the start. If you have already finished your assigned tasks, be proactive and ask for the next assignment. Or volunteer to help another team member who could use a little support with their task load. Your offer may not always be accepted, but it will always be appreciated. Remember: what goes around, comes around.

3. Acquire knowledge and skills

Just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean that you have acquired every skill and knowledge there is to know. Every company is different and will have different requirements, which is why you should make an effort to learn as much as you can. Big companies often offer training courses where you can further your knowledge and skills. Even if your company does not offer them, there are a lot of resources online and offline that you can use to learn more about different methodologies and processes in your field and beyond.

4. Know what is required of you

This is very important to remember: You can only do a good job if you know what is expected of you. If your supervisor has not made it completely clear what your responsibilities are, then you should directly ask them. Don’t be afraid, communication is key in project management and you can only deliver good results if you know exactly what the requirements are from the very beginning.

5. Be open and flexible

You should also be open and flexible. Everybody has their own way of doing things, but when starting at a new company, you have to adapt to their work culture as well. Insisting on doing things your way can quickly alienate your colleagues. You might also come off as arrogant. That will make adjusting to your new job very difficult. Being flexible is one of the top requirements of a good project manager. Even the best laid out plans can’t predict the unpredictable, which is why you need to be able to quickly adapt your project plan to new circumstances. The same goes for starting a new job. You can only succeed if you’re willing to adapt and are open to new things.

6. Build relationships and network

Doing a good job is important, but in project management the people factor matters a lot. You will adjust to work much more quickly if you start to socialize with your co-workers from the very beginning. Even if you feel shy and self-conscious, make an effort to get to know your fellow team members and everybody else in the firm. Accept invitations to lunch or coffee breaks, ask people about their role and most importantly: listen. By listening, you can learn a great deal about how things work in the firm and you also learn more about your co-workers. Don’t forget to share things about yourself, too, though. People want to get to know you, just as you want to get to know them.

7. Find a role model/ mentor

Your firm may have a formal mentoring program, but if they don’t then you can always try and find a role model or mentor yourself. This person could be someone who’s great at what they do, someone who is willing to share their knowledge and experience with you and can help you adjust to your role and build relationships with your other colleagues. Having someone you can look up to and whom you can always ask for advice will ease your mind and take off a little bit of the pressure of dealing with unfamiliar tasks and people.

8. Have a positive attitude

The most important thing to help you adjust to a new job quickly is to approach everything with a positive attitude. You will face challenges, but you will also find ways to overcome them. Don’t linger on your mistakes; instead, acknowledge them, fix them, and then move on. Being a good project manager doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect at everything, but that you always give the very best you’ve got. Being positive and motivated will keep the job exciting even during tough times.


Keep these tips in mind and before you know it, you’ll be a valued part of the company. Good luck and have fun at your new job!

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