I’ve been at the Jungle for two weeks now — imagine that! I’m still at the very bottom of my new-hire learning curve; every day I come away feeling like the number of things I don’t know is greater than it was the day before. But I’m not worried. Instead I focus on little things, like arranging my office furniture . . .
|I like the simple “door” desk (an homage to the early days of the
company, when the founder couldn’t afford any desk other than a door
laid over two trestles). But oh, I miss my view of Pennsylvania Avenue!
. . . and trying to figure out how many days before I can take down the welcome poster without hurting feelings.
|Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the gesture!
But fluorescent yellow has never been my favorite accent color.
The comforting thing is that I’ve discovered that it’s not the legal stuff I need to worry about. Once I learn enough about the business to understand what’s going on, the legal work is familiar (which is not the same thing as easy) and I know how to handle it. For example, on my third day of work I went with my manager to a meeting with some of the key business leaders we support. They were wrestling with a particular problem and, once I figured out what all the words and acronyms meant, I realized I could see a solution that no one else had mentioned yet. So I raised my hand and offered my views; the business team loved it and ran with it. Later, when I saw the woman who ran the meeting, I began to reintroduce myself and she said, “I know who you are. You’re the guy who had the smart fix in our meeting the other day.”
That made me happy for a lot of reasons. Partly because this woman strikes me as one of the smartest and most competent people I’ve met so far at the company. She’s definitely someone whose good opinion I want. Also because the transition from being a high-performer in a major law firm to being an unknown newbie in a giant corporation is a little unsettling, and it was nice to get some positive feedback (however insignificant) so early on.
Getting known as the “smart” guy also felt like a step in the right direction from a repetitional perspective. Obviously it’s good to be well regarded under any circumstances, but I’ve learned that I’m being measured against some pretty high expectations. I’m told by the higher ups that I came very highly recommended by some of the partners at my old law firm (who I had no idea were talking about me to the Jungle). And my peers seem to be impressed and/or intimidated by the fact that I’ve got a lot of really cool and very directly relevant legal experience (by contrast, many of them didn’t get into this type of work until they got to the Jungle, having spent their time in their prior law firms doing more general corporate work). I won’t say that I’m not flattered and pleased by this nascent reputation, but I also recognize that I need to be careful not to disappoint. I want to hit the ground running and basically be a super-star from the beginning, and it’s hard to feel like I’m doing that when I spend most of each day trying to figure out where the elevators are and how to log onto my computer. So any hint of having contributed something of value is very welcome.
This next week should provide some additional opportunities to make a contribution. My manager and one of my other colleagues are away on vacation, which means that I’ll be fielding pretty much everything that they handle on my own. I’m crossing my fingers that there aren’t any fire drills and that we get through the week more or less in one piece…