Sweep The Floor

As a new apprentice and low man on the totem pole you should be ready and willing to do the small unglamorous, but necessary jobs that need to be done on a daily basis.  You need to swallow some of the pride and ego that you may have developed while solving assignments in College and realize that you need to start from the bottom again and that you need to adhere to the team dynamic that you are joining, they already have a working relationship and have already built up trust with each other that they don’t have with you yet.

While this is just an analogy sometimes it is a literal translation, much like it does in the book.  When I was in high school I worked in a woodworking mill making hardwood flooring and wood trim and molding.  So there was always a lot of sawdust and dirt flying around.  Whenever we were swapping out stacks of wood to make more, or changing blades someone was expected to sweep and clean the tables of wood chips.  This wasn’t a glamorous job and no one wanted to start sweeping in the little bit of time that we had to rest in between handling and stacking wood flooring, but it was necessary in order to keep an organized work area.  As both the youngest and newest guy that responsibility usually fell on me.  While most of the time, especially at the beginning, I hated doing it instead of being able to take a full break as time went on it helped integrate me into the team.  I started getting the respect of the other employees and the boss because I had shown that I was there to work and wouldn’t make others pick up my slack.

That helped me form the belief that whenever you go somewhere new, whether it is in a new field or just a transfer to a new location that you should keep your head down and focus mainly on doing your job.  This isn’t to say you shouldn’t socialize and make friends, but you shouldn’t get too relaxed that you fall into some of the bad habits that other team members may have developed and then you start you off on a bad foot.  Be ready to be assigned the worst tasks that the team gets because they still need to be completed, and do them to the best of your ability; even if it is something a tiny as updating or proofreading some documentation.  Some may not seem like it’s going to change the world, but it needs to be done and your quality of work will show through no matter the task.

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