So you got the job (well done!) and your start date is fast approaching. Whether you’re a student working part-time, an intern, or a graduate about to begin a long and successful career, you’re probably a bit anxious about your first week.
Luckily, we’ve got just the thing to calm your nerves. Take a deep breath; here are some super simple things you can do make sure everything goes smoothly.
Show Up Early
Not just on time – early.
Aim to get in your car, hop on a bus, or board a train about 20-30 minutes earlier than you need to. Excessive? Maybe, but sitting in stationary traffic five minutes before you’re supposed to be at work is the last thing you need.
Google Maps is a great way to find out roughly how long your commute will take. Check your route the morning before your first day to get the fastest route (with traffic – thanks Google).
If you live somewhere with awful public transport and your only option is a bus that only just makes it on time, call your employer beforehand and tell them. Thinking ahead might win you some brownie points before you set foot in the building.
Though even if, despite your best efforts, a five-car pile-up closes your road or all the trains are cancelled, don’t panic. Just call ahead and explain as long as it’s safe to do so – getting caught using your phone at the wheel isn’t a great look.
Keep It Formal
Deciding what to wear to a new job can feel like walking a tightrope. Cardigan or to blazer? Heels or flats? To tie or not to tie? These are the questions.
Of course, you could argue that how you dress has absolutely nothing to do with how good you’ll be at your job – and you’d probably be right. Maybe one day we’ll all show up to work in pyjamas, but today is not that day.
As a rule of thumb: avoid anything you wouldn’t wear to an interview unless you’ve been told otherwise (i.e. if there’s a uniform or a dress code in place for safety reasons). You’ll probably find that your colleagues have a spectrum of styles and formalities. How wide that is spectrum will vary by workplace, but during your first week it’s better safe than sorry.
Though it’s also worth remembering that – unless your outfit is really ~out there~ – you’ve probably spent way more time wondering whether your trousers match your shirt than anyone else will.
No one will expect you to understand your new job in your first week – not even if you’ve worked in a similar position before – and it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. As long as you’re asking questions, you’re heading in the right direction.
This goes for everything from using internal computer systems, to answering the phone, to finding the right meeting room. If your colleagues don’t explain something in enough detail, it’s not because you should already understand it; they’ve probably just forgotten how much they had to learn in their first week.
Just ask – it’s easier than wandering the corridors looking for Board Room 9.
You’ll have a lot to take in, so getting a notebook to help keep track of everything is also a good idea. There’s evidence that the actual act of writing something down can help you remember it better too – result.
This might seem obvious, but if “make friends” feels like a big ask in your first week, there’s nothing wrong with setting the bar at a more comfortable height. You don’t have to be the life and soul of the party straight away – or at all.
Getting along with people is about the little things: listen and look interested when someone is talking to you, say hi to you team when you arrive in the mornings, or offer to make your stressed-out colleague a coffee. Helpful and considerate people are hard to dislike.
Accepting your first invite to a works do – a pub quiz, a lunch, a drink, whatever – is a good plan too, regardless of whether you feel like going at the time. Why? One: because you might enjoy it more than you think. Two: because you’re more likely to get an invite next time, when you could be totally up for going.
If you’ve clicked with your workmates by the end of your first week – awesome. If not, that’s okay too. You don’t have to make a new best friend but if you can at least get along with your colleagues, working life will feel a bit less like... well, work.
Get to Know the ~Vibe~
As well as learning how to actually do your job, your first week is a great time to get to grips with everything going on under the surface in your workplace. This one might be the easiest of all: you’ve just got to keep an ear to the ground.
Where’s the best place for lunch? How do different departments interact with each other? Is there some friendly competition or is everyone a big happy family? Which coffee machine makes a better cappuccino? How much work do people do outside office hours? Is there a team biscuit tin? More importantly, where is it?
Some of this might seem mundane, but we spend about a third of every week at work – half if you don’t count sleeping. You’re adjusting to a whole new lifestyle during your first week and that’s no mean feat.
All we have left to say is good luck and enjoy your new job!
Jen Anderson writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.
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