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How to get up to speed with jargon & lingo at a new company

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

IT’S YOUR FIRST DAY IN A NEW ROLE AND YOUR MANAGER ASKS YOU TO SEND THE SDLC TO THE CTO BY COB…
Zaahirah Adam, Chief Operating Officer at Nova Finance

If you’ve ever felt like your boss or colleagues were speaking another language, then this is the guide for you. Zaahirah Adam, Chief Operating Officer at Nova Finance, gives us her advice to get up to speed on new jargon and lingo quickly. The quicker you pick up on these new acronyms, the quicker you will feel integrated into the team and the more confident you will feel.

OVER THE COURSE OF MY CAREER, I HAVE WORKED IN OVER 7 INDUSTRIES!

Now on the face of it that may seem like a daunting amount of change, but I started life as a consultant so a lot of it came with the territory. Every time I have moved industry the story has been the same, excitement at joining a new and thriving sector quickly followed by a wave of terror and self-doubt; have I done the right thing, will I ever truly understand this new industry, maybe it’s just one leap too far and I will finally get caught out.

Thankfully with each career move I have made that cycle has shrunk in length and severity of emotion but the barrier to entry has gotten higher and higher. Most industries have their own language so to speak, a secret way of communicating that only those in the know understand and can decipher. Jargon and acronyms are meant to save ‘time and space’ but really how much space and time does writing ‘wen’ instead of ‘when’ actually save? I find it fascinating that things like jargon which are meant to bring simplicity instead often add complexity.

The hardest industries I have found are those where jargon is so deeply ingrained into the DNA of the sector that people often don’t know the non-industry term or what the acronym even stands for. Finance, tech and crypto being the most notable offenders.

I could write a list of all of the jargon and lingo I have learnt across my career but that would be a painstaking exercise and be of little value given the dependency on the industry and the business. Instead, I will outline my top tips and tricks to getting up to speed as quickly as possible, my own personal bible for embedding myself into a new space with a new language and I hope that it will provide some help to anyone doing the same.

ZAAHIRAH’S NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST FOR LEARNING A NEW INDUSTRY/SECTOR:

ASK FOR A READING LIST

Ask for a reading list from the organisation you are joining – This is helpful in two regards. 1, knowledge is power, whilst you may not need to understand the sector to be successful in your job, the more context you have, the more successful you will be. 2, it will give you insight the resources and authors your peers trust and respect. I usually read a summary of each book then read the ones which are most relevant to the knowledge I am looking for.

KEEP UP-TO-DATE

Keep up to date – No industry stands still for very long. Acronyms and lingo evolve just like everything else. Make a list of key sources you trust and find interesting and follow them. This may be an organisation or person on Linkedin, YouTube, Twitter, who puts out useful and relevant content.

JUST GOOGLE IT (JGI)

When in doubt Google, Google, Google – Honestly I don’t know what people did before Google. I am not ashamed to say I spend around 40% of my time googling things. Honestly Google has the answers to most things, just make sure it is a trustworthy site. This is my favourite site for my current industry. Crypto.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK

If Google fails you, never be afraid to ask – there is nothing worse than being stuck on a group call, with people talking at the speed of light using acronyms you don’t understand and losing the conversation after 3 minutes. In this situation I make a list of the terms I haven’t understood and send it to a colleague on the call or at the next pause raise my hand and ask the question. It’s 10000% better to clarify than be lost and chances are there is another person who didn’t understand also.

MAKE A CHEAT SHEET

Finally make a crib sheet and share it with everyone else who joins after you – I am a massive fan of paving the way for others to have an easier ride than I have had. So everytime you learn a new word or phrase write it down and share it with all the new joiners and the rest of the business and also so you don’t forget, it took me a while to remember HODL meant hold on for dear life. Trust me there will be a lot of very grateful people, including yourself.

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