I changed jobs this summer! Well, to be exact I changed jobs for a month this summer. At the request of my oldest daughter, who graduated from high school this year, we joined a group of 17 other high school kids and went to Fiji to build toilets.
Sounds fun, exotic and exciting doesn’t it? I thought so too and then I started to build toilets and learned some very good lessons about changing jobs. Let me share a few of the lessons that I learned just in case you are planning on changing jobs/career anytime soon.
• Ask to meet the people you will be working with. You need to know what you will be dealing with on a daily basis.
I have five daughters and no sons. I have lived with and been surrounded by women since my first daughter’s birth 18 years ago. I am the lone male species in my house, which is important to understand when reading about this lesson. Upon arriving in Fiji and checking into the “Motel One” (we called it that because it was nowhere near as nice as a Motel 6!)
I was told I would have three high school boys as roommates. They left that information off my disclaimer form. Imagine my disbelief the next morning when the three guys were ready to go five minutes after the alarm went off. It takes me five minutes just to get out of bed with plenty of time to spare waiting for the ladies!
The boys also didn’t change their clothes five times before we left in the morning. To top it all off they stole food from my suitcase and then thanked me for bringing it. No respect.... Same goes for your job, it is best to meet your new counterparts and office mates before you take the job (And shout out here to the Fiji guys!).
• Ask what specific tasks, projects and work you will do every day. Ask what a normal “Day in the Life of…” looks like.
Going to Fiji and building toilets sounded fun and exotic. I imagined my daughter and myself building toilets with the ocean breezes blowing and the frozen lemonade drink breaks twice a day. (or something close to that). In reality building toilets consists of digging six foot septic tanks with old shovels, hauling gravel half a mile to make cement and then doing it all again — 200 times over in a day.
This was all done in the Fiji sun (minus the beach). It’s good to know the specifics of your new job, you may have told yourself a story about what you will be doing every day and you need to understand reality vs. your perception.
• Realize every company does things differently. As we built the toilet with our Fijian family we would take small walks in the afternoon to check out the progress of other families toilets. I was amazed at how each camp went about the same project in such different ways. Some dug their sanitation tanks first, while others started with the base of the toilet stand. In the end they all looked similar, but the path to get there was very different. You may have a similar job, but remember your new company won’t do things the way you did at your past job. Be open to change and new opportunities to learn.
The experience in Fiji was life changing and the friends we made we will have for a lifetime. You might just find the same thing in your new job. Remember, it’s your career.
A consultant, author, PhD, triathlete, father, and resident of Gilbert, Dr. CK Bray is a career and organizational development expert who has worked with numerous organizations — ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging start-ups. He can be reached at ck@DrCKBray.com or find his blog and more at www.DrCKBray.com.