September 7, 2016
The first day of school always brought butterflies and daydreams of what might happen. Were your teachers going to be nice or unreasonable? Would there be a lot of multiple choice tests, or was it a paper-heavy course?
The first week at your new job will probably create similar feelings to your long gone school days. We asked our contributors to weigh in on making the best of your first week, and ultimately your first impression at your new job.
Prepare for your first week BEFORE you show up on Monday morning.
You more than likely learned a good deal about the new company you’re working at while doing your homework during the interview process. However, it will be massively beneficial for you to take it a step further. Stephanie, a hiring expert at AT&T, offers her thoughts on how to prepare, “Whatever you don’t know about the company, now would be the time to learn as much more as you can. Hopefully, you learned quite a bit about your job, the company and culture during the hiring process. By doing additional research in advance on company products, services, markets, etc., it can pay dividends in helping you acclimate - and be productive - faster. A win-win for you and your new employer!” Full Quote
If you show up on day one with an above average knowledge of the company you’ll make a lasting impression on your supervisor and coworkers. It may be a little bit of extra homework in the week leading up to your start date, but it’s more than worth it.
Be humble and friendly.
You are not the universe’s gift to your new employer. You are not the savior of the company and, while you may be really smart, you really don’t know what you’re talking about in your first few weeks. Remember, the first few days will establish the first impression your new coworkers and your supervisor make about you, so be sure it is a good impression.
As Lori from Cigna put it, “With regard to speaking with new colleagues, be positive and ask questions. Don't come in pretending that you already know everything; the expectation when you are new is that you need to learn how things are done. Smile and take notes on processes and people so that you can review them to gain a comfort level with everything and everyone.” Full Quote
Get involved in the community as quickly as possible.
Just like when you were in school companies are ultimately a community. The bigger the organization the more micro-communities exist within the greater community of the entire company. It’s vital for you to become part of the community rather than an observer. This isn’t just helpful for your emotional well-being, but for your career trajectory as well.
Steve from Caterpillar said, “…try to get involved in internal employee groups, sometimes referred to as employee resources groups. These are groups of employees with something in common such as young professionals or mid-career hires, etc. This will help you to learn from others and build your network. Lastly, seek out a mentor at your new company. Many companies already have formalized mentoring programs and if so, participate in this program or work with one of your leaders to identify a mentor for you.” Full Quote
Set healthy expectations for yourself.
You can’t be perfect from day one at your new job. Be gracious with yourself and have a good understanding that you’ll need to grow into your job. Kate from ADP offered this helpful wisdom, “Your first week on the job, observe, ask questions (and repeat their answer in your own words to verify you understand the answer to your question) and take notes. Smile, shake hands and stay positive. It takes on average 6 months to feel fully confident in any role, so if you feel overwhelmed the first week or first month, don't get worried…” Full Quote
Ultimately, your job, just like your career is a marathon. While the first week of your new job is incredibly important, it’s just the start of where you’re heading. In other words, take the first week seriously but don’t overdue it either. Do your homework in the week leading up to your first day, be humble, and engage with as many colleagues as possible once you arrive. If you do, you’ll go from new kid on the block to rock star employee in no time.