So this week I am yet again starting a new job. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been thrown into a new professional environment, but I’ve collected a few tips and tricks about the do’s and don’ts of getting the best out of your first few days on the job.
Ask All The Questions
My number one piece of advice is to make sure you ask all your questions. Ask the ones you think sound stupid (no, you don’t need to walk the office dog), ask the ones you might not want the answer to (yes, coffee runs are your responsibility), ask the ones you think you have the answers to (no, that’s not quite how the database works), and all the other ones you can think of. You usually just have the one or two weeks of time with your predecessor before they’re gone forever, and you might not have another chance to rack their brains about the ins and outs of your new job (no, your boss doesn’t know the intricacies of the franking machine).
There’s a lot of pressure to dress well for your first few days on the job, and while there is nothing wrong with looking good, I would emphasise feeling good above all else. Obviously stick to the dress code, but if you’re not one for heels, leave them at home, don’t wear clothes that you can’t move around in, don’t dress yourself in a way which isn’t you. Whatever you feel the most comfortable in, that’s what you should wear, whether that’s a bold dress, a power suit, or a dress-down cardigan and jeans look. The main thing is to feel like yourself, and to not spend all day frowning because the too tight skirt just isn’t working out.
Throw Yourself Into The Work
Develop an extreme interest in excel. Dote on your emails. Make excessive notes. Colour code everything. Try to reenact the endearing aspects of OCD (I’m allowed to make that joke because my psychiatrist told me I had tendencies of the disorder). Really engage with the boring and detail-oriented parts of the job, and that way you’ll instantly create habits which will serve you well throughout your time there. Really getting into the gritty systems in your first week will impress both your colleagues and your boss.
Put Yourself Out There
Being the new girl can be so daunting, and you might feel terrified of forgetting people’s names, stumbling over your words, making a bad joke or otherwise making a fool of yourself, but even though it’s daunting, try putting yourself out there and making connections with people. First impressions last a long time and you don’t want to come off as cold or unfriendly. No one expects you to remember all the new names at once, just ask again and make a joke about your short-term memory. Ask everyone questions about themselves, people love talking about themselves. Figure out if they’re cat people or dog people and tell a loving anecdote about their preferred animal. Offering people coffee is always a good idea. Nothing gives you office creds like providing caffeine.
Be Prepared For Lunch
Last but not least – don’t come to work on your first day without a plan and a back-up plan for your lunch. Pack a sandwich and a thermos of coffee, but be prepared to throw it out! Some offices have a break-room where all your new colleagues go to eat their packed lunches, and you don’t want to sit there awkwardly not eating while everyone else feels bad for you, so make sure you can whip something out of your bag and join in on the office banter. However, a lot of places have a culture for going out at lunch, and you don’t want to be the odd one out eating at your desk while everyone else heads to Pret, so keep some money available for going to a café. You might also be taken out for lunch by your boss on your first day, so keep your packed lunch a secret in case this happens, that way no one needs to feel like they’ve misread the situation.