"Are you nervous, Daddy?" That was the question I got asked over breakfast this morning by my nine year old daughter, as her brothers and sister loudly chomped their way through bowls of weetabix and plates of toast. "I remember when I started at my new school I was really scared, are you scared?"
She asked this today, as 10 June is the day I begin my new job with The Stationery Office after eight years in local government, and another eight in the voluntary and community sector before that. Over all that time I’ve always worked in some way, shape or form in the world of community engagement, be that with young people specifically or with the wider public more generally, so this new role is a bit of a carer change. Not one totally out of left field, but not one where the only difference between it and my last role is where the kitchen is and which report template to use.
Starting anything new can feel daunting as it is a step into the unknown. Today will entail me meeting dozens of people who’s names I’ll struggle to remember at first go, reading reams of paper without always understanding what’s relevant or how it all fits together, and getting set up on ICT systems great and small. It’ll be tiring.
It’ll also be fascinating. Besides a few years very early on in my working life when I worked for Army ‘n’ Navy, I’ve never spent any time in a modern workplace in the private sector. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-private sector at all (some of my best friends work in the for-profit world) but it means I’ve got little direct experience of the small differences which will set it all apart from the world I’ve been used to since leaving school. Those who have experienced both sides of the fence tell me that I’ll find some things far easier to do, whilst other little things will seem a little strange. Strange I can handle, as long as there’s a semblance of logic underpinning it.
As I write this I am on the train into the office for the first time, just pulling into Bromley South and trying to keep my mind clear so it’ll be easier to absorb as much as possible on this first day whilst still bringing something of myself to the table. It might be a long day ahead, but in the spirit of National Work Out Loud week, highlighted to me by @austenhunter who is one of my favourite people on Twitter (and over a pint), I’ll try to check in throughout the day and add some observations to this post as I notice any similarities or differences. I’d be fascinated to hear your own stories of first days too, either in local government or having recently left it. You can tweet some thoughts to us @welovelocalgov, add them to the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wish me luck!