Career | Making a Change, Part 2

Since writing about my experience with the looking for a new job part of the transition, I thought I’d write about the hidden hard part: transitioning into a new role.


When you’re focused on finding a new role that will fit your top criteria (I suggest picking five things that are your top priorities to help you refine your search), it seems like it’s jumping the gun to think about the actual transition. Especially if you’ve been in your current role for a significant amount of your career, leaving is extremely hard, even when you know it’s the right decision. When it came time for my departure from my last role to be announced to the whole company, and I stood in front of all of my colleagues, to be quite honest—I cried, I couldn’t help it. And that’s okay—people are human, and leaving a company you’ve devoted so much of yourself to for a significant amount of time is not easy. So let’s stop pretending that it is.

I’m the type of person that prefers to be as much of an expert as I can be, and to be as knowledgeable as possible. When you enter a new role, you know nothing, and have to be open to learning a lot: about the company, about your department/team, about their processes, and how to work with them most effectively. It’s jarring and overwhelming—that’s why a lot of people will say, “oh, drinking from the firehose?” when you’re in a new role.

So, even though I’m still in the process of transitioning, here are some things I’ve learned that I’m keeping in mind—and full disclosure, a lot of this is inspired by others, and particularly the book The First 90 Days.

  1. Learn as much as you can before you get there. I was fortunate in that I had two weeks off in between, and I set aside time to do a deep dive into my new company’s website, press releases, and social media, and start putting together a list of questions as well as ideas. You may not end up using them, but coming in with your research done and some potential value-adds right off the bat shows how excited you are about your new role.
  2. Don’t ignore your experience. Yes, you’re in a new environment—but you didn’t get there by accident. You have experiences that make you valuable to this role—use what you’ve learned in your past roles to help guide you in your new role. Maybe it’s a project management process that you’ve had success with, or a branding framework, but there’s always something that you can bring to the table that you’ve had experience with.
  3. Meet the right people. Obviously you’ll get to know your team and department very well in the first few months, but figure out (and ask your manager!) who else you should meet. Especially if you’re part of the Marketing or Communications team, it will probably be helpful for you to know the leaders in the Human Resources, Business Development, and/or Operations departments. The people that are important long-term connections may also not be at the department leader or manager level—find out who makes an impact or is an office “influencer.”
  4. Set up 30, 60, and 90 day check-ins. Regardless of the company performance review schedule, set up regular check-ins with your manager for those first three months, and come with an agenda—show them what you’ve accomplished so far, review any questions or roadblocks you’ve run into, and share your plan for the next milestone(s). This company made an investment in hiring you—invest some time into your plan to be successful.
  5. Be patient. If you’re the type of person who likes to hit the ground running (hi, hello, that’d be me), it can feel like you’re moving through molasses at the beginning. But take this time to pay attention, listen, and learn from your team, your colleagues, and the company. Maybe this new role included a change in your commute and/or your schedule—give yourself time to adjust to that. Personally, since I know I struggle with big changes, I tried to eliminate anything I didn’t have to do during my first month so that I could focus on putting as much energy into those first few weeks as I could.

Remember, it takes time to become an expert in your specific role at your specific company. I went from a role where I built the brand from the ground up to becoming the steward of a young but established brand in an entirely different industry. That doesn’t mean I’m not an expert on branding or design, but it does mean that I’m certainly not (yet) an expert on what those mean at this company, in this role.

What things do you to set yourself up for success in a new role?

Featured image from You X Ventures on Unsplash

Career | Making a Change, Part 1

Well hello, my long-neglected blog! Not long after my last post, I embarked on the journey that is changing jobs, and now that I’m 30+ days into my new role, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on everything that went into that change.


Back in October, I was invited to speak on a panel discussion at my alma mater, Marymount University, about how to transition from student designer to professional designer. I had a surprising amount of things I wanted to (and did) talk about, but thought I’d highlight a few of my more job search-centric items here.


I’ve been on both sides of the interview table within the past year, and have been taking mental notes about what appeals to me as an interviewer, and what to incorporate as an interviewee. A lot of these will probably seem obvious to seasoned professionals, but might be useful to those of you who are rusty at interviewing or are just going into the job market.

  1. Have your portfolio and resume in front of you during phone interviews. Even if this means keeping a print copy with you and having a PDF of your portfolio on your phone that you can reference, you need to be prepared to know exactly what your interviewer is referring to without relying on your memory.
  2. Always be at least 10 minutes early for an on-site interview. Don’t expect to start the interview early, but it’s a good idea to give yourself time to get to the right place, get your bearings, and breathe.
  3. Ask for their business cards. Always get your interviewer’s business card(s) so you can send a follow up thank you email!
  4. Make yourself memorable. Before the interview ends, make sure you’ve left something memorable behind—your business card, your resume, or maybe a unique print piece. Send a thank you email to your interviewers—same day is best.
  5. Don’t be afraid to follow up. If it’s been 1-2 weeks since your in person interview and you haven’t heard a peep, it’s okay to follow up with your main point of contact. Keep it polite, use proper email etiquette, remind them who you are and what position you’re interested in, and spell check before you send.

For those of you job searching, if you’re a fan of spreadsheets like me and looking for a way to track your applications, feel free to make a copy of my Job Application Tracker.

Any other tips you’d include for job searching and interviewing?