Got A Job? Here’s How To Handle Your First Day At Work


First, congratulations on getting that job! It’s a big deal to start your first “real” job. Unfortunately, it sounds like excitement is being overshadowed by nerves.

What is it that you are nervous about? The more clear you are on just what it is that is causing your nerves, the better you’ll be able to address it.

Some common  concerns when starting a new job include feeling overwhelmed by the idea of walking into a brand new environment and not knowing what to expect, feeling shy about meeting all kinds of people (perhaps including suit-wearing and/or other ‘important’ people), and sometimes worrying that maybe you won’t be good enough at the job.

Regardless of what it is specifically causing your worries, here are a few things you can do to make starting your first day easier.

Rest and food

Seems a bit overly simple, but sometimes the simple things are very important. Getting a good sleep the night before your first day and feeding yourself more than caffeine that morning can help your physical self keep your emotional self feeling stronger and more relaxed.

Equip yourself for success by packing a complete healthy lunch and a number of snacks. You need energy to engage with you new team!

Remember: they hired you for a reason

Hiring decisions are rarely taken lightly. If you’ve been offered this job, the organization must feel convinced that you are up for it (even if you yourself may be worried). If you are nervous about whether you can do this, remind yourself that you probably would not have been hired if you didn’t display the skills and qualities that are needed.

If it helps, take a look at your cover letter and resume, or reflect on the interview that got you the job. Remind yourself of the skills you have to offer!

Assess your expectations for yourself

Yes, the first day is important, but too much emphasis can be placed on first impressions. Your first day is usually a day of easing you into your new role. Usually, there will be introductions, orientations, tours and some explanation of your job. You don’t have to go sprinting out of the starting gate and impress everyone in your first eight hours there. You can spend the day with a smile on your face and listening, learning, and trying to remember everyone’s name (a note pad might help!).

You’re new. Remember: asking great questions and showing enthusiasm is more important than trying to wow everyone.

Ask questions

If you get worried, or nervous, or confused, do ask questions. You are new and you are not expected to know everything.

Worrying about that first day may be a bit nerve-wracking, but if you try to relax and take the pressure off yourself, you can focus on learning and enjoying. Best wishes as you start your new job!

Set up regular dates to review your performance with a manager or supervisor and look for ways to improve.


Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to pressing career questions from students and new grads just like you.

About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.

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