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How to handle the 4 most common new job disasters

Use these tips to get through your first few weeks unscathed.

Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating, especially since we want to do everything in our power to blend in with the veterans. But as much as we want to pretend we know all the tricks of the trade, sometimes we can’t avoid showing how green we really are.

As the social media intern at Monster, I thought I would only be helping to write copy for social posts and the like. But, what they didn’t include on the job description was the unique perspective on Monster's culture I would receive sitting in the company’s social media center—what Monster employees refer to as the “fishbowl.” This centrally-located open office space gives anyone a front row seat to daily employee interactions—not to mention the common new-person office disasters that my fellow interns faced.

Oh, and I’ve fallen victim to these, too!

Here's what I've accepted: No matter how much you prepare, you’ll experience these unavoidable blunders—but there are ways to recover.

1. You’re bound to get lost

Meeting room names and locations aren’t as always as straightforward as you’d like to think, meaning the odds of you getting lost are pretty high. The last thing you want to do is interrupt a meeting you were supposed to be at 10 minutes ago, or even worse, walk into the wrong conference room while another meeting is in progress.

What you should do: To avoid this conundrum, just ask a fellow employee for directions. It seems simple, but everyone was the newbie at one point in their careers. In your training, you may have received a map of the office layout you can follow or you can buddy up and travel in a small group, hopefully with at least one person who knows where they’re going. This way you can avoid wasting your time wandering aimlessly around the office.

2. You’ll encounter a wardrobe malfunction—at least once

You’re on your way to work, feeling especially confident in a crisp new dress shirt you just bought, and of course, you accidentally spill coffee all over yourself. You’re already half way there—if you turn around now to go back home and change, you’ll never make it on time.

What you should do: Text your co-workers explaining the situation and ask to borrow a shirt or sweater to cover the stain. If you have no luck and can’t remove the stain with soap and water, hold your head high and remember that it happens to everyone. To prevent an embarrassing situation like this from occurring again, consider keeping extra articles of clothing in your car. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have Tide-to-go pens on you too—better to be safe than sorry!

3. You’ll find yourself running late

There are numerous occurrences that can cause you to be late to work: forgetting to set your alarm, underestimating the time you need to get ready, getting stuck in traffic, etc. And the reality of the situation is that sometimes being late is completely out of your control.

What you should do: When running late, honesty is the best policy. Email—or better yet, call!—your boss and let him or her know you’ll be in a little later than usual.

Running late can provoke some panic, but, if you are honest about what happened with your supervisors, they will understand—as long as you don’t make it a habit!

4. You’ll feel completely lost at a meeting you were pulled into

It’s an ordinary workday and you’re sitting at your cubicle minding your own business. You’ve heard buzz around the office of an important meeting that all the full-time employees in your department will be attending. Your mentor tells you it would be beneficial for you to join and you’re feeling pretty great about it. You go to the meeting feeling eager but as you’re listening, you think to yourself, “This might as well be in a different language.”

What you should do: Take notes during the meeting and put a star next to the content you didn’t fully understand. Remember, you’re there to learn about the aspects of the company that you’re not familiar with and ultimately expand your knowledge. So, ask your mentor questions! They will be pleased to know that the meeting was of value to you, and glad to see you’ve taken an active interest in your work.

This content first appeared on the Monster Intern Blog.

Stephanie Barbuto is entering her senior year at Bryant University, where she's majoring in marketing. She interned this summer in Monster's Weston, MA office.

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