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Thrown Into the Deep End? 4 Ways to Survive Sink-or-Swim Training

By | Katie Douthwaite Wolf |

On the first day of my new corporate job, I expected a strategically laid out, step-by-step training plan, which would flawlessly transition me from timid newbie to confident, competent professional.

What I actually received was a swift shove into the deep end of a bottomless pool of information. To my dismay, my company didn’t have a formal training plan—new employees were just supposed to jump in, learn as they went, and do whatever it took to keep their heads above water.

Is this the ideal way to do things? Probably not. But unfortunately, sink-or-swim training is the norm at many workplaces. So, how can you survive—and more importantly, succeed—without getting overwhelmed or over-stressed? After being on both sides of the table (both as a new employee, and later, as a manager at the same company), I can tell you that it’s not going to be easy—but with these tips, you can make it.

1. Make Friends Quickly

When you don’t have a trainer by your side, your saving grace will be a few go-to co-workers who you can approach with your questions. Your teammates probably had similar panic-inducing training experiences, so they’ll likely be willing to lend a sympathetic hand to help get you settled. So, strike up friendly conversation from the get-go, because when you can’t remember how to access your voicemail or find a client’s account in the CRM software, you’re going to need the help of someone who does it regularly.

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