Learning on the Job

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By Kaci Vohland, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

A new job can feel overwhelming at first, but a proactive employee can learn quickly and become an invaluable member of the team. As I hit my one-year milestone with Communique, I think of everything I have accomplished. Over the past year I moved to a new city, built a house, got married, and started a new job, all during a pandemic. Reflecting on the past year, several concepts come to mind that helped me excel professionally. These concepts can be helpful for both new and veteran employees who want to become indispensable to their employer.  

  • Ask questions. No matter how good the training is or how thoroughly the information is presented, new employees should always have questions. Asking questions is a great way to show you are invested and interested in the job and want to learn more. 
  • Say yes to new opportunities. Saying yes to new opportunities can open doors you never knew were an option while providing invaluable experience. Some opportunities may be out of your comfort zone though that is not necessarily a bad thing – new experiences can be scary but so rewarding. Whether it’s helping with a new client or accepting new job responsibilities, open yourself up to the possibilities. Case in point, while working as a dietitian I was offered an additional position as HR manager. Saying yes to that opportunity, even though I had no experience, allowed me to gain additional training and broaden my experience beyond dietetics.
  • Take the initiative. Show employers and coworkers you aren’t afraid to jump in, help out, and lead by example. Do not be afraid to step up even if you don’t feel fully prepared.  
  • Embrace criticism. Criticism doesn’t have to be a negative experience! In fact, it can be used positively to help us learn and grow. Realizing you will not be a professional at everything you do, especially not right away, can help you accomplish this. Use feedback to learn and to expand your skillset. 
  • Share your ideas. No matter how small or unattainable you think your ideas may be, you never know what could grow from them. All your ideas may not be winners, but they might spark another idea for someone. Creative sessions can turn even the smallest idea into big team ideas and wins. For example, our team utilizes creative sessions to brainstorm ideas for our clients. After presenting many individual ideas, we decide on our favorites and one of them is ultimately chosen. All of the ideas are not keepers, but they allow us something to build off of to create the best options for the client. 

These are only a few tools to showcase your potential. The goal should be to never stop learning. Ask questions, take initiative, and say yes to opportunities as they arise, this is what can transition an employee from replaceable to indispensable.