Advice on what to wear, how to remember everything, and ways to make friends, so you can take on responsibility and get the most out of your new job.
WRITTEN BY: LAUREN KALIN
I tend to over-prepare. For everything. Packing for a day trip to the beach looks more like I’m prepping a post-apocalyptic survival kit. Luckily for you however, preparing for my first day of work was no different. The following is a three-step compilation of the million and two articles I eagerly read before starting my first job. Hope it provides you with a little extra Netflix time tonight.
Step 1: Get Dressed
Whether it’s an internship or a job in the ever-elusive “real world,” you should be sure to overdress a little on your first day. No need to wear a suit if everyone else is in flip-flops, but be sure to look professional. Your new coworkers will take you more seriously and may even trust you with a little more responsibility. Hopefully you have a decent idea of what people wear based on your trips to the office for interviewing, but don’t hesitate to clarify with the person who extended the job offer or with HR.
Side note for internships: Be the best-dressed person there all summer. That, paired with hard work and a smile, will make you a rock star that your boss and coworkers can’t help but to shower with praise in the form of reference letters and LinkedIn connections.
Step 2: Take a Plethora of Notes
The first day can be overwhelming; don’t trust yourself to remember it all. Bring a pad of paper and write down everything from key points during training sessions to your voicemail passcode. Plus, you’ll get brownie points for looking engaged. Keep a list of words or acronyms that you don’t understand – every company has its own jargon, so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification!
Step 3: Express Gratitude
As my parents would say, remember to always, always, always say thank you. Whether it’s the person who talks you through the standard operating procedures or the one who shows you where to find the printer, be sure to show some appreciation. Jot down a quick message on the exciting new sticky notes you hopefully found at your desk this morning, and start building some bridges.
Tip: While you’re at it, offer to help out your coworkers. There might not be much you can do on your own at this point, but they’ll appreciate the offer and may teach you something new. You get to take on responsibility and force coworkers into friendship all in one go – what could be better?
BONUS: The Packing Guide
In case you, like me, desire a solid list of everything you could possibly need for the big Day Numero Uno, please enjoy the following assortment of items I stuffed into my appropriately oversized bag that day:
- Legal pad
- Pens & pencils
- A voided check & my license (for HR purposes)
- Water bottle
- Photograph of my sister and I
- Stress ball
- Cough drops
- Band-aids (because being a project manager is pretty high up there on the list of dangerous jobs.)
- Migraine meds
- Mini tube of toothpaste (I apparently was not going to have bad breath.)
- Bobby pins
- Snacks (and lots of ‘em. Hello snack drawer.)
- Lunch (Your new coworkers or supervisor will most likely take you out for lunch, but bring something non-perishable just in case. Nothing worse than being hungry all day while struggling to learn new things and smiling your face off.)
This packing guide is also available in a downloadable PDF that you can download and use on your first day.
Naturally, you can survive your first day without most of these items. The best way to prepare is by making yourself comfortable. For me, that means planning for every possible pitfall. For you, it may mean brushing up on your Java or Photoshop skills, buying a new first-day-of-work outfit, doing dry-runs of your morning commute, or getting your parents to tuck encouraging notes in your lunch.
Remember, you may not know everything right off the bat, but they hired you over all other possible applicants. So regardless of anything else, walk in there with a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. You’ll be great!