I’m starting my new role today, moving from one department at my university to another and onto my own funding for the very first time. It’s super exciting! I woke up early, ready to go, my books and plants packed and waiting to be unpacked.
I’ve made a few moves of varying sizes in the last few years. I’ve moved interstate after finishing my PhD, moving back to the department I did my PhD in, and now moving into a new department for the next chapter of work. Some of these moves have involved splitting up our household, with complicated arrangements for pets, removalists and finances. Others have been simple moves across campus.
In some surprising ways, I’ve found the bigger moves to be easier. When I moved from my PhD to another university interstate, I took a month off to pack and tidy up my life, to get used to the idea of leaving my dearest friends, and then I had a week to find a new rental. The practicalities of the move were tricky, and my then young puppy wasn’t best pleased with the disruption to his life.
This turned out to be the smoothest re-entry into work. I had already anticipated a seismic shift in my life and accepted a significant drop in productivity in the month or two after commencing my new job. I gave myself time to get up to speed on a new administrative approach and a different departmental vibe.
In contrast, when I moved back to the department I PhD-ed in, I expected an easy transition. I wasn’t going to get lost and I knew who was who. I wasn’t offered an induction, but later I spent a significant amount of time scrabbling to get up to speed on administrative loads and responsibilities.
I also discovered that any change in workplace and contracts is a big hit to productivity. I expected to keep pumping out research at the same rate and was very disappointed with myself for a long time for being “slow”.
Now I’ve made the smallest physical move yet, just down the path and across a small creek. But I’m no longer expecting to hit the ground running. There’s simply no such thing.
Even with a lovely new office and computer ready to go and welcoming administrative, IT and building facility staff, it still takes time to settle and find your place in a new work environment. I have a good idea of how my new research direction will start out, but I’m also learning new skills in grant management and budgetingm and administration of PhD students. I’m sure this will take some time to figure out.
Small moves can be big changes. When you make a move, whether it’s submitting a PhD and moving onto an RA role, moving overseas into a new field or shifting onto a new project, it takes time to get up to speed. In the meantime cut yourself some slack and invest time in working out your place, meeting your new colleagues and understanding their ways of working. It’s worth it!