Starting a new role as an IT consultant is a pretty daunting thing. As an IT consultant, I get a little nervous when I need to go to a new client site for some work that needs to be done. It gets easier the more you do it, but it’s not something you do every day, so it takes some time to be comfortable going to new client sites. This article hopes to uncover what it’s like to start on a new site.
Before The First Day
So, you know what your assignment is for your next client. Or, maybe you don’t, and you just know you’re going out to a client site for some work. It’s an important day, and it’s good to try to be as comfortable and as positive as possible. To start, it’s a good idea to have a relaxing night beforehand. Many consultants start on client sites on a Monday, to start off the week, but it’s not always the case. Try to get a good night’s rest before the first day, have a good meal, relax, and do whatever you need to do. You’ll feel better in the morning for it. It also helps to do any research you haven’t done yet, and to read up on any news that the company has been involved in recently, just to give you a bit of information on the client.
The First Minute on Site
Depending on your employment situation, you may get taken to the client site by your employer, or you may arrive by yourself. This can be pretty overwhelming to start with – it’s a new building, a new location. You’re not sure where to go. There are people walking around with phones, coffees, books, people talking, and you may feel a little lost. This is totally normal – most people would have been in that situation on their first day. Often you’ll be meeting a key client in the lobby – someone who works at the building who can greet you and bring you to the main working area. This is helpful, as you get to see the client for possibly the first time, and you get accompanied into the office. If this doesn’t happen, simply approach the reception desk and ask for your client contact, or let them know that you’re here.
The First Day on a Client Site
The first day on a client site, for me, always goes quickly. There’s so much to learn. You’ll meet a lot of people – your manager, other team members, people sitting in your area, people in other teams, and any other people who may be involved in your role. You’ll get shown around the office, and the features of the office will be pointed out to you. I always try to remember three things when I get shown around:
• The kitchen – it’s good to know where this is so you have somewhere to go away from your desk to make calls, to get a glass of water or other refreshments.
• The bathroom – Seems obvious, but it’s good to remember where it is, instead of asking again.
• Your desk – Also can seem obvious – but in many offices, all desks can look the same, so it’s good to try to remember where you’re sitting!
A great way to get to know people on your new client site is to ask them if there’s anywhere good to go for lunch. Sometimes they might ask you in advance, or sometimes they’ll ask you to come along after you ask – it’s a good way to check out the area and get to know your team members or clients. Sometimes, they might not ask you along – don’t worry, you still made the effort though, and you got some information on some good food spots!
The First Week
After the first day is done, coming back the second day won’t be so touch. You’ll (hopefully) remember where you sit; you’ll have at least one piece of work you can do without assistance or without a lot of company knowledge. You might have a few meetings set up or deadlines to meet. It will give you some structure to your day. Make sure to say good morning to your clients, the ones who sit around you or who you’ve met already. It doesn’t need to be a daily routine – but saying it on the second day shows you’re considerate and polite. As your week goes on, you should get more of a feel of the client site, how it operates, and what your job involves. You would also be meeting a lot more people. It might be a good idea to keep notes on the people that you meet. Their name, position, where they work, what they do, and how they’re involved in your project.
The Next Steps As you progress with your time on your new client site, you should find yourself getting more and more familiar with the environment, the work, the people and the office. While you may not feel totally comfortable for some time, this might be a good thing – it can get a little flat if you’re totally comfortable in a workplace. Keep an eye out for the office culture. Every office has one, though it’s not very obvious. It may be a professional workplace, or it may be more relaxed. People may be punctual, or they may have more flexibility with their appointments. People may be loud and friendly around the office, or it may be a quiet place to work. They may be social after work, or they may work late and then go home for the day. It’s just something to be aware of. It also helps to keep your ears open – as a consultant, it’s good to be able to add value to your clients, and you can do this by being aware of the issues and problems that they face. I hope that clears up some of the mysteries and questions you might have about the first experiences on a new client site!
Thanks to Ben from Complete IT Professional for this guest post.