The paperwork has been signed, start date has been confirmed and all the interviews and job applications are now behind you. It’s official you have a new job. But how do you prepare for the first day?
The night before your first day, you shuffle through your closet thinking about what you’re going to wear and how you will impress your new co-workers.
You head to bed a little early, set your alarm and think about all the things that lie ahead as you fall asleep with apprehension and excitement about your new chapter.
But in some ways, you’re never really prepared for your first day or week at a new job. Regardless of how much research you’ve done or questions you’ve asked; you still will not know what to expect.
No matter how loved you were at your previous job or how many accomplishments you had under your belt at your old company, there’s no guarantee that the same will be the case at your new job.
That sounds disheartening. Intimidating, at the very least.
I know. That’s why I put together some tips to help you get through your first week. These tips will not only help you “get through,” they will set your mind at ease and will help you stand out even on your first day.
I also asked a few of my friends who work in a variety of industries for their input. One is an associate producer at a local news station, another works at a global Public Relations firm as an account executive, the other is a middle school teacher, another is a nurse and another is research coordinator at the number one cancer center in America. So, whether you’re in health care, news & media, advertising, PR, education or any other industry, this advice was put together with you in mind. Here are the things we all wish we would’ve known sooner.
“It’s not that serious. It is serious because, you’re getting paid to do what you do. But you already have the job, so don’t try to be perfect! Just be yourself.”
“Speak up. Fill the awkward silences while in the elevator or while you’re getting coffee with your co-workers. Ask questions and don’t get so hung up on pretending like you know everything.”
“Work doesn’t stop at work or when you expect that it should. Sometimes you may have to stay at work later than planned, just to get some things done. Sometimes you may go home and still have more work to do or you may find that you still have to finish up some things on the weekends or during your free time.”
“As awesome as the company looks on the internet and at glance, you’ll have your days when it’s not that awesome. So just be prepared, and don’t let those days affect your outlook on your future at the company.”
“Despite how hard you work, some of your co-workers will not take their job seriously. Some of them will even do nothing or the bare minimum. Don’t let them frustrate you. Just do your part as a team player and surround yourself with likeminded people.”
“Yes, your salary will probably be larger than your salary at your previous job. But don’t blow it! Don’t use your extra income to buy more material things or to get more credit cards or anything like that. Instead, now that you’ll have more money in your account, automate your bills so you won’t have to worry about them.”
“Your job description is never inclusive of all the things you really will be doing. You may end up doing everything but what was written in the job description. Brace yourself for that reality.”
“It’s okay not to know everything. It takes time to learn.”
“Remember faces and details about your colleagues and embrace the relationships you will gain within the company, because you’re going to need them at least once or twice or 500 times while you’re there and when you leave.”
“You won’t know where the restroom is on your first day, but that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. When people throw curveballs, don’t allow them to mess up your day.”
“Your boss may not always take into consideration your schedule or life outside of work. Your manager may move you around or ask you to do things, without a care in the world about your life outside of work. But, don’t lose yourself working like a slave. Remember your commitments and responsibilities outside of work.”
“Look for quick wins. Look for ways to easily show that you are attentive, creative and hard-working. Raise your hand quickly to be a part of new projects or tasks. Think about ways you can help out or offer your solutions to problems.”
“Pay attention. Be objective but also be observant of how your colleagues, team and senior leaders interact with each other. There’s always an unspoken culture in the workplace, and it’s better to understand it sooner than later.”
“Don’t forget to smile while you’re in the hallways. You’ll look more approachable than if you keep your head down.”
“Wear comfortable shoes, you’re in for a long day.”
The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay not to know everything. No one is expecting you to be perfect. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and soak up all the knowledge you can. You will fall occasionally, but failures and mistakes are a part of life. Don’t let them get you down.
So what are some things you wish you knew on your first day at a new company? Have you had any unpleasant experiences with co-workers or managers that you wish you would’ve avoided?