Angela Hamrick

Feeling Like a Freshman: Tips for Adapting to a New Job

I felt like a freshman, but I there I was at prom on Friday night. I hadn’t been to prom since I was a senior in high school, but with a new job in the teaching field came the opportunity to chaperone prom. So, there I was watching high school seniors try to have the time of their lives. While the dance brought up a lot of thoughts and questions (dress codes, chaperone responsibilities, and hey, we didn’t have a photo booth at my prom!), I have been feeling a lot more like a freshman these last few weeks than a senior ready to graduate.

Starting a new job comes with a learning curve and a lot questions. Nearly everyday, I feel like I am playing 20 questions— not in search of one answer, but 20 different answers. I’ve been blessed with co-workers who are happy to show me the ropes and be gracious as I continually come back with more questions. (And you think your three year old has a lot of questions). I was chatting with a coworker about how starting this new job has somewhat made me feel like a freshman—that feeling at being at the bottom of the totem pole, not knowing how things work, not knowing the answers, or if there really is a pool on the third floor of the school. For me, it has been rather uncomfortable, especially as I haven’t had this freshman experience in quite this way in a while.

In the church world, the summer months often mean new jobs and new youth ministers.

Ask Away!

If you are new to ministry, know that it is more than okay not to know everything. In fact, humility always wins the battle against arrogance. It is perfectly fine to ask lots of questions. Expect that there will be many things you won’t know and that many things will surprise you in both pleasant and unpleasant ways.

Connect with an experienced youth minister in the area. Also, find out who does what on the parish staff, so that you know who will be the best person to answer which questions. Then, don’t feel bad about asking questions. You’re new; you’re not supposed to know everything already. I would recommend writing a list of questions throughout the day or week, so that you can make the best use of your time and the all-knowledgeable answerer’s time.

The Answerer

If you have the wisdom of experience, be open to answering questions. Sure, you are super busy, but keep in mind that you are probably only where you are because someone was willing to be a mentor to you. (If you happen to be in that percent that didn’t have anyone to ask questions to, you wish you did, right?) Your availability and friendliness will go a long way.

There is no way I would have been able to make it through my last few weeks if it weren’t for multiple people with the know-how and experience like you. In particular, if you know there is a new youth minister in a nearby parish, take the initiative to make the welcoming phone call.

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Angela Hamrick

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