Whether it be your dream job, at the local supermarket or a stepping stone for that ultimate role you are reaching towards, it is your first day in unfamiliar ground. You will meet new people, learn new skills and be given new responsibilities.
How do you overcome that first day angst?
Prior to the big day
Prepare yourself. Research research research. Gain an understanding for the company, what they do and who they are. Some key examples to research are the company’s mission statement, company values and corporate profile.
Decide what you will wear the night before – pick the suit, iron your uniform and have everything all set out ready to go.
Go for a drive or jump on the bus (in peak hour) to get a true understanding of how long it will take you to get to work.
Call your manager the week before. If you don’t have their number call the reception / admin and ask to speak with them. Just for a general chat, ask what time to start on your first day, if you need to bring anything with you and exactly where to go, reception, your desk, meet your manager in for foyer? Start to build the relationship prior to your first day. This will give them a sense of accomplishment that they have actually made the correct choice in choosing you for the position (potentially out of a 50+ applicants).
Connect to your manager via LinkedIn. This will also start to build the relationship on a social networking platform but will also give you an insight to their previous roles and a loose understanding on how they gained their position. This can be used as an initial talking point with your manager. For example: ‘I noticed your first role was at XYZ’ or ‘I see you know Mr. XYZ, who I know’.
On the big day
Get to work early. 5 to 10 minutes will suffice, unless specified. This will show you are prompt, eager and take the role seriously. There is nothing worse than getting to work 5 minutes late on your first day, not matter how relaxed the position is, because you are nervous about knowing where to go or what to do.
Ask questions – even if they seem ‘silly’. What time is lunch and where do you have it. When I had a ‘first day’ in one of my first corporate roles, I was unsure what to do, where to sit or how long lunch was for and too afraid to ask. This left me eating a banana (lucky I packed something) for the entire day. Some instances you don’t actually get a tour of the organisation on your first day, you may be in meetings or training so you are unaware of what is the ‘go’ for lunch.
That brings me to my next point. Take a packed lunch – nothing worse than being in training all day and only getting 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat and not having time to go and purchase your lunch for the day.
When to leave for the day? This is a tricky one, and don’t be afraid to ask if it is okay to head off. Often on your first day you are learning the ropes and don’t have many tasks or projects to work on and you may even feel a bit overwhelmed with all the information. This is completely normal. It is good, however, to take home some information about the company, for examples, their company profile or corporate brochure to have a read over and always good to show your friends and family who you are working for and discuss your learnings with them. On the other hand, if you have been given a task or project that they expect to be completed within that first day – don’t leave until it is done.
Remember, first impression counts and you want to give the impression that this is the role your have been working for (not matter the pay, company or level of your position) it is important to build a work ethic for yourself and to feel like you have achieved something for the day.
If you have a probation period, understand exactly the time period and what they expect from the role.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, silly, small or intense. You need to have an understanding on how you are going in your role and if you are on the right track. The better you understand that, the better chance you have in succeeding.