Preparing To Launch Your Career: Your First Day On The Job


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The first day of a brand new job can be both a daunting and exciting experience for anyone, but especially for students and recent graduates like you who haven’t had many first days yet.

After all the hard work and preparation required for the application and interview process, it’s easy to forget that succeeding on your first day of work may require a bit of preparation and legwork as well.

Your first day is the best opportunity you’ll have to make a positive impression on not only your boss but also your co-workers and company leaders. If you get it right, you may be given access to better projects and you’ll certainly have a better chance of developing strong relationships with your manager and colleagues.

Before your first day

Find out what the dress code is

If the office is more casual than business casual, you don’t want to come in looking like you’re about to audition for a suit commercial. Ask the hiring manager, recruiter or HR representative you’ve been interacting with what the dress code is and adjust your wardrobe accordingly before your first day. Don’t go overboard with the shopping, though, because dress codes can sometimes vary between teams and departments.

Ask if there’s anything you can do to prepare

You never know what you’ll be walking into on your first day. It could just be training, job shadowing or basic tasks, but it could also be a last-minute project with tight deadlines or a big event. Check with your contact to find out if there’s anything you can do, read or research to prepare for your first day.

Do your own research anyway

Peruse the social media accounts and news feeds of your new employer to see if anything interesting has been going on lately. You should also look up your boss and anyone else you know you’ll be working with on LinkedIn (or by Googling their names) so you’ll have a bit of background on them and, hopefully, a few conversation-starters.

Plan your route

Even if you’ve already been to the office already, it’s a good idea to plan out your route and figure out how much time it will take you to get there. If you have the time, do a dry run during the time you would normally go to work to get a feel for volume, delays, etc.

Set your clothes and other items out the night before

No, you’re not in kindergarten anymore, but it can still be helpful to get organized the night before by setting out or hanging up your first-day outfit to ensure it’s clean, ironed and ready to go the next morning.

Here’s a list of other things you’ll need on your first day:

  • Notepad and pen
  • Water bottle – stay hydrated
  • Lunch (in case your boss doesn’t take you out)

On your first day

Show up a bit early

Don’t arrive at your new job a minute or two before your start time. Show up 15 to 20 minutes early to show your boss and colleagues that you’re eager to get down to business and you respect the office hours. It’s a good idea to continue arriving early until you’ve really settled in and proven yourself.

Take a lot of notes

Use your notepad and pen to take notes throughout the day, both on what you’re supposed to be doing and also about the people you meet. The first day of a new job can be overwhelming, so writing down details about each person you meet may help you remember their name. Don’t use a laptop, smartphone or tablet to take notes unless your employer specifies that you should – it can come across like you’re just not paying attention.

Ask questions

On your first day, a few things are bound to be over your head. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and act genuinely curious about what you’re learning. Asking questions will help you better understand what you’re supposed to be doing in your new job and may also impress your boss.

Get involved

Take initiative and get involved in what’s happening at the office, whether they’re office cooler conversations, social activities or new projects. Volunteer for anything and everything that you think you can help with – it will help you fit in and you’ll be seen as a go-getter among your colleagues.

Check in at the end of the day

Before you or your manager leaves, check in with them to go over what you’ve done in your first day and ask them if there’s anything else you can help with before you leave. They’ll probably say no, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

Good luck on your first day!

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About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.