Whether it’s your first job after graduation or you’ve been part of the workforce for decades, starting a new job can be terrifying. From meeting new people to learning where on earth the coffee machine is, getting through that initial day can be confusing and overwhelming. With some preparation and research, you can arm yourself for a fantastic day, making a great impression to get you started on the right foot.
- Nail Down a New Sleep Routine: If you’re used to college life or have been out of work for a while, staying up late and sleeping till noon may be normal for you. That routine will make that first day of work much more difficult; you’ll have a hard enough time remembering names without being exhausted too. Set yourself up for success by starting a new sleep schedule. If at all possible, give yourself a week or two to adjust to going to bed early and waking up in plenty of time to get ready for work.
- Map out your route: The last thing you need to worry about on your first day is traffic or getting lost. Do a test run to work to find out how long your commute will take you during rush hour, and use a map or your GPS to figure out a few alternates in case of an accident or traffic jam. If you take public transportation, make sure you have the bus or train schedules and plan on taking the earlier route to give yourself a buffer to get to work.
- Do some online research: Spend some time Googling your new employer and check out their social media pages. This will help you know the major issues and key people to know within the company before you ever walk in the door, which will help prepare you for what challenges you’ll face.
- Pick out a snazzy outfit: Pick out your outfit before the big morning; it will make everything go so much more smoothly for you. Opt to be a bit more conservative until you know your new office’s culture and what the standard of dress is amongst your coworkers.
- Stockpile some food: Your boss and your new team may take you out for lunch, but don’t plan on it—you may end up going hungry. They may be busy or it may not be the office norm. Pack a lunch and some snacks that you can keep at your desk in case you’re on your own. Having some food on hand will help keep your energy up. Bring some cash and change in case you do go out for lunch with your teammates.
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid of looking foolish. The company hired you because they thought you were capable. You’re supposed to ask questions when you’re new! Just time them appropriately. Rather than popping into your boss’ office several times a day, write down your questions and ask them all at once so you don’t constantly interrupt her train of thought.
- Take notes: Along with those questions, make sure you take tons of notes. From little reminders about who is who (i.e. long red hair=Jen) to copier codes and procedures, your notes will keep you from annoying people by asking the same questions over and over again.
- Be prepared: Make sure you have everything you need, from paperwork HR asked you to fill out to remembering your social security card and ID. This will make the orientation process so much simpler and let you get started without a problem or delay.
- Then listen some more: You’re eager to prove yourself and that’s awesome. But before you start making suggestions or doing things a different way, spend your first few days and weeks listening and understanding the rationale behind procedures. There may very well be a solid reason why they do things a certain way, so make sure you understand that before making suggestions. Once you’ve learned the ropes, if you find a way that would save time or money or increase results, by all means, speak up!
- And breathe: You’re going to be nervous your first day and that’s okay. Take some deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed, smile, and ask for help from your new coworkers. You can do this!
Heart of Florida United Way is dedicated to changing lives for the better by helping families and individuals gain access to resources they need to stay afloat and succeed financially. For more information about Heart of Florida United Way’s efforts to improve employment and financial stability in Central Florida, visit www.HFUW.org.