On Having a Stellar First Day at Work

I’ve had a lot of first days over the years. I’ve had productive and positive ones, stressful and disorganized ones, even flat out boring ones. In fact, I finally had my best first day this Monday. Most of the time, the tone of your first day is set by those in charge of onboarding you (which could be anyone from the Head of HR to an intern), so you don’t always get to choose the type of first day you have. Fortunately for you, I happen to know of a few things you can do for yourself that will put you in the right mindset as you jump into your new job.

Research your company.

I made quick mention of this in my first post, On Being an Intern, but it certainly deserves reiteration. This step should obviously be a huge part of your interview process, but now that you’ve been hired, take the time to really dig in and get your eyes on everything you can. As a marketer, I like to do an audit of the company’s current efforts before I start so I have an idea of where they are and I can start generating ideas to further their goals from the get-go.

Research your role.

At this point, you should already have a clear idea of what you will be expected to contribute in your new role, but you should also take some time to find out what people like you at other companies are doing. Read up on how people in positions similar to yours are succeeding and start thinking about how you can implement or improve those systems at your new company. Being prepared in this way will not only make you feel confident, but it will also impress your new team.

Dress the part.

I know this piece of advice is pretty played out, but dressing to impress does make a difference. Dress well on your first day, even if you know everyone else will be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You make the most first impressions on your first day and you want to be on top of your game. You know the drill: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you need to, spend some time the night before getting ready by doing your hair and/or nails and laying out your first day outfit. 

Get an early start.

My new company is located in Ponce City Market, a beautiful recently-renovated community hub with office spaces, shops, restaurants, apartments, and events, so I was really excited to see everything the space has to offer. I got up early, got to explore the area, was able to grab a cuppa from what is sure to be my new favorite coffee shop, and felt totally relaxed walking in to meet my new team. Even if your office space isn’t as cool as mine or you’re already familiar with the area, get there 10-15 minutes early anyway so you look like a person who takes initiative and you’ll have time to relax and feel comfortable before you dive into an exciting first day.

Ask questions and take notes.

One thing that has troubled me in the past has been trying to start working before I’ve asked any questions about what I’m doing. The very first thing that should happen when you start a new job is a meeting with your team and your job in that meeting is to listen intently, take physical notes, and ask all the questions that come to your mind. Even if you feel like it’s a “dumb” question, ask it. Even if you think you should already know the answer, ask anyway. Even if you’re sure the topic has already been covered, ask for clarification. Make sure you feel sure and confident about what’s happening and what’s to come.

Introduce yourself to everyone you meet.

Try, if you can, to strike up a conversation with anyone you meet on your first day. Shake their hand, ask their name and what they do, and ask something casual like “How was your weekend?” or “How long have you been with the company?” Do this at big firms, small startups, co-working spaces, wherever your first day takes you. And do not decline a lunch invitation. If no one invites you, invite someone you may be working alongside or someone you’ve already made a connection with that day.

The most important thing to remember on your first day is that you were hired for a reason. As long as you didn’t lie on your resume, you have what it takes to succeed in your role. Your new company and coworkers are excited to meet and work with you, so make sure you show how excited you are to meet and work with them while starting your first day off on the right foot.