Tips to Master Your First Day of Work

Tips to Master Your First Day of Work

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Try a Faux Commute

So, you interviewed on a Thursday at 10:00 am, and it took you 14.5 minutes to drive to your new workplace. Monday morning, during rush hour, is likely to be a different story. The last thing you'll want is to be late on the first day of your new job. While you don't need to drive in beforehand, make a reminder to check Google Maps for 

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Try a Faux Commute

commute times so that you understand how long it might take to commute to work on a normal day.

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Ask About Onboarding Processes

Before your first day, ask about onboarding processes, including paperwork, employment contracts, training, reviewing an employee handbook, and other orientation materials. Ask the HR department what you can complete beforehand to ensure that onboarding is smooth. If you're going to be assigned a co-worker to give you the lay 

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Ask About Onboarding Processes

of the land, ask who that might be so that you can connect online beforehand.

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Research New Colleagues on LinkedIn

Maybe add a few co-workers as connections if you feel comfortable. Even if you feel it's borderline creepy to connect with them before meeting in real life, familiarize yourself with your new team. This will make it easier to assign names to faces.

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Buy Yourself a Fresh Notebook

Maybe it's us, but new job = new school supplies, right? Get yourself a notebook or notepad to take everything in during orientation meetings and other early days activities. We'll get into the whole "phone at work" thing in a minute, but I think a notebook is the better way to show that you're ready to go.

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Create a List of Questions

When you're given a ton of new information followed by the prompt, "Any questions?" it's likely that your brain is too busy swirling to think of any. Before your first day at your new company, create a list of questions. This will help you acclimate faster and it might save you from the awkward new employee feeling of "What 

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Create a List of Questions

should I do next?" Ask your questions throughout the first week as they become relevant. It can be anything from "What is the password to log into this software?" to "Where is the bathroom?"

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Get There Early, But Not Too Early

Once, I timed my new commute wrong on the first day. Thankfully, I wasn’t late, because in my anxious state to be on time, I actually ended up arriving 45 minutes early. I ended up sitting awkwardly in the lobby until my new boss arrived an hour later. While it didn’t do any harm, my nerves only grew for every minute I sat waiting—and I’m 

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Get There Early, But Not Too Early

pretty sure security thought I was crazy from that moment on.

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Have an Elevator Pitch Ready

You're going to be meeting a lot of new faces and it's a great idea to prepare an elevator pitch ahead of time.  This isn't a job interview, so it doesn't need to be super long: just who you are, your new role, and maybe what you did previously. If you have a fun fact you want to add, go for it!

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Wear Something That Makes You Feel Good

It's like the first day of school—but the stakes are higher! Pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable.  You probably got a sense of the dress code during the interview process, but you can definitely take note of the dress code even more during your first week. That might be business casual, smart casual, or more formal.

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Create a "Calming" Ritual to Curb Nerves

To calm the jitters, I created a "calming" ritual. I wrote down a few positive affirmations in my new notebook, and if I was nervous, I would read them for a few minutes. I also made sure to take a few deep breaths throughout the day if I was feeling overwhelmed.

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Smile

Don't forget to smile on your first day! It seems obvious but you should be excited about this new adventure.  You've worked hard to be here and now you'd like to create a welcoming tone as you get to know your new co-workers.

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Introduce Yourself To Others

Instead of waiting for others to come to me, I made a point to be the one to introduce myself to new people first.  This included in common spaces like the kitchen, lobby, and even when there was a line for the bathroom.

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Be Aware of Your Body Language

Body language can send a lot of messages without actually saying a word.  I made sure to be aware of my posture, eye contact, and facial expressions throughout the day. I wanted to project confidence and competence—but not ego.

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Take Note of the Social + Professional Landscape

During your first day, week, and month you can take note of the social and professional landscape.  There are so many unwritten "rules" in workplace culture and just having the awareness to look out, observe, and learn this can be helpful.

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Put Your Phone Away

I’ve worked in offices where it was perfectly acceptable to look at my personal phone, send texts, and make calls.  I’ve also worked in offices where it was definitely frowned upon. Watch what others seem to do and clarify, if necessary. These types of things are often in a company manual. Try to figure it out without having to ask. You don’t want them to 

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Put Your Phone Away

think you plan on being on your phone 24/7. If it does turn out to be okay, leave the ringer off. No one wants to work next to the person whose phone goes off constantly.

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Take Notes in Your Fancy Notebook

Yes, this means bringing paper and pen. No tapping away on your iPhone. I have a few notebooks that I love. Write down everything—from where the office supplies are kept to how your boss expects calendar invites to be formatted. Trust me. You think you’ll remember everything and inevitably you’ll end up either 

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Take Notes in Your Fancy Notebook

remembering wrong and getting called out on it or having to ask again. You don’t want your boss to think you weren’t listening the first time around.

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Make a Good First Impression

Be kind and courteous to everyone. Well, this should be your everyday demeanor, but it's extra important in your first days. In my first job out of college, at a small nonprofit, my boss brought in several candidates for the position. As the office’s administrative assistant, she asked me to greet the candidates and make a point 

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Make a Good First Impression

of casually chatting with them while they were waiting to get a sense of their personalities. Only one actively engaged me back.

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Say "Yes" to the Lunch Invite

If you get invited to lunch say yes! Who cares that you brought your lunch? This is a more casual and social opportunity to bond with your peers at work.

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DON'T Fall Prey to Gossip

Say yes to the friendly lunch invitations, but do not engage in gossip or other toxic behavior. I know it's so tempting to take this shortcut to form new bonds with coworkers, but don't fall into it. The gossips and bullies are the last coworkers you'll want to befriend. I promise.

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Hold Back on Making Any Judgements

Hold back on making any judgments about people's work styles, personalities, or skillsets.  Be open-minded and remember that you don't want them to pre-judge you either.

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Start Asking Those Questions

In this day and age, where we have tons of information at our fingertips, there is no excuse not to be prepared. A bit of Googling can usually produce a list of the senior leadership at the company. Do ask smart questions about things like office culture, your boss’s preferences, and expectations around your job.

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Actually Engage in the Training Sessions

I know it's a lot to take in when you're already taking in a lot of new stuff, but there is nothing more annoying than a current employee feeling like their time is being wasted.  Be engaged and stay distraction-free as you get trained. Take notes, ask questions, and try to figure things out on your own before you just swivel your chair.

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Make a Good First Impression with Your Boss

Be extra aware of making time to re-connect with your boss. Maybe you met briefly in the interview session but you're reporting to someone else.  Get that facetime with them on your first day and remind them that you're excited to be on the team.

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Listen, Observe + Learn

Your first day at a new job is the day to listen and learn. When I’m nervous, I tend to say the wrong thing and regret it.  If you’re anything like me, take advantage of the opportunity to sit back, learn, and take it all in. Focus on the office and listen to how everyone communicates.

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Express Gratitude

As you get ready to head out the door, express your gratitude to your team for a great first day. You can even include a few specific things from the day that really stood out. Oh! This is a good time to mention this— don't be the first to leave if you have flexible hours. I'm not saying you shouldn't set boundaries and work all night. But on your first 

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Express Gratitude

day and week, it's never a bad thing to put in a little extra time at the end of the day. Thank your team and make your priority list for tomorrow—you'll be thankful you did!

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