The Top Challenges a Career Changer Faces on Their First Week in a New Job and How to Overcome Them


After all the resume-writing, job searching, and interviewing, you’re finally about to embark on your new career. Yet, instead of feeling excited, you’re feeling stressed out. Don’t worry, once you understand the unspoken rules of the workplace, you’ll not only be prepared to survive your first week as a career changer, but thrive in your new job.

It’s as easy as one, two, three C’s–Competence, Compatibility, and Commitment. Keep scrolling and learn how to master them for week one success.

Get to know the three C’s and the challenges that come with them:


Competence is about ability and reliability. It means you don’t need your manager to hold your hand, or your colleagues to do the heavy lifting. Competence means that you can deliver a quality project, on time, with no errors. In short: it’s as much about what you do as it is about what you don’t do–create additional work or unnecessary stress for your manager or colleagues.

Competence challenges

While striving to achieve competence can feel like a low bar, don’t underestimate how challenging  the early days of a career change can be, especially in a remote or hybrid work situation that inherently offers less structure and social interaction. Perhaps you find yourself double booked for high-profile meetings, or are bombarded with competing urgent tasks. Maybe you are in the middle of a presentation when your computer battery dies and you have to complete your pitch from memory. While these time constraints and pressures can be viewed as challenges, but they also present opportunities to show your team that you can be flexible, resourceful, and gracious. Sure, these stressful situations might make you sweat, but if approached with the right attitude, they can ultimately make you shine. 


The reality is that you’re going to spend hours of your life in person or online with coworkers–so you’re going to want to make an effort to make connections. Try to put other people at ease, so they enjoy being around you. No need to be ingratiating, but try expressing an interest in finding common ground with a colleague or manager. Relating to each other as people–not just professionals–can make a huge difference in your quality of work and quality of life.

Compatibility Challenges

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, making connections with your colleagues during your first week of work can be hard. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for lifelong friends–though you may find one or two along the way–you simply want to make basic connections with your colleagues to enhance your ability to collaborate. If you’re struggling socially at work, try setting up 1-1 time to help people get to know you a little better, and to get to know them a little better, too. And as tempting as it may be to fit in, never dim your light to make anyone else feel more comfortable with themselves. Ultimately, the best advice is to ease into your new role with grace and compassion for yourself.


Whether you realize it or not, work is a team sport, and you need to be a team player. That means demonstrating the commitment to be fully present and enthusiastic about the team’s objectives. At the very least, make sure you are pulling your weight. Also consider going the extra mile on occasion by raising your hand to offer to support a campaign or deadline even if it’s not work you are directly responsible for.

Commitment Challenges

When it comes to commitment, actions speak louder than words. Showing up to the team meeting with your camera off during the first week or arriving late may inadvertently send the wrong message. On the other hand, being overly zealous or too early can make others defensive, especially during your first week. The best way to show you’re committed? Listen more than you talk. Get the lay of the land from direct managers and team members so you understand how you can best fit in. Ultimately, the ability to contribute and encourage the efforts of others as you work toward a shared goal is a great way to show you are committed.

Your checklist for a great first week on the job

  • Take a broad view of the organizational chart & stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your company, industry, and team. 
  • Before you ask about something you don’t know, share what you do know.
  • Be the captain steering your ship. Bring solutions, not problems. 
  • Be proactive by thinking to offer assistance first.
  • Refine your Career Change Hero’s Journey for meetings or presentations by knowing the why of what you do.
  • When speaking or writing, tailor the message to the unique audience or specific stakeholder.
  • When in doubt, wait it out by observing others. Watch, learn and mirror what aligns with your work values.
  • Own your impact and your intent.
  • Be true to your word. It’s what people remember most about you.
  • Consider all the possibilities when making decisions. 
  • Always understand your end goal and keep track of your efforts.
  • How you want others to see you should align with your image and your values.
  • Manage priorities efficiently and effectively. 
  • Listen so you can absorb and create novel solutions.

Don’t forget the most important C–Confidence

You’ve learned about the three Cs, competence, compatibility, and commitment. But there’s one final C–Confidence. Be confident that you can face any first-week challenges at your new job head on. Be confident that you are going to make a great first impression. Be confident that you are not only going to have a great first week, but a great new career. 

Need a little more guidance? Download our Landing Work You Love Ebook to discover more tips and techniques to support your career changers’ journey.

Disclaimer: General Assembly referred to their Bootcamps and Short Courses as “Immersive” and “Part-time” courses respectfully and you may see that reference in posts prior to 2023.