How to Nail Your First Week on the Job
Starting a new job is both exciting and nerve-racking. You’re eager to begin the next chapter of your career and make your mark at a new company, but there are dozens of unknowns. Will the work be fulfilling? Will you like your co-workers, and will they like you? Are you prepared for a new set of responsibilities? Is your boss actually normal, or will the craziness slowly reveal itself?
It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of speculation and worry. The best thing to do is to take one week at a time and focus on what you can realistically control: you and your actions.
Set yourself up for success with these tips for making the most of your first week on the job.
Acclimating to a new job can be physically and mentally exhausting. You may need to adjust to a new commute or different work hours. You’re bombarded with new information, processes, tasks and names. And, as you strive to make a good impression with management and your peers, you have to “be on” from the minute you walk through the door until the moment you leave for the day.
Use whatever downtime you have before starting your new job to relax and recharge. Even if it’s just a weekend, use the time to catch up on sleep and do the activities that leave you feeling restored. (This may mean skipping a night out with friends in favor of a quiet evening at home.)
Do a Little Research
While most companies expect new hires to come with a learning curve, it doesn’t hurt to do some research – you’ll give yourself a bit of a head start and appear prepared. Set a news alert for your company’s name, and catch up on recent articles that relate to the industry. If the company’s website includes a staff section, familiarize yourself with the various departments and get a sense for how the company is structured.
Pack a Lunch
Brown bag a lunch, at least for the first week. This is important for a couple reasons. First, you need to eat. It’s tempting to skip lunch when you’re super busy and hopped up on adrenaline, but you’re going to lose mental focus and crash if you don’t take the time to refuel. Second, you’re probably not yet familiar with area food options; if your new office is in the middle of a culinary wasteland, a PB&J on wheat is going to come in handy.
Get a fresh notebook and fill it with notes. On everything. Coworkers’ names, organizational facts, the bathroom security code… A new job comes with too much information to rely on your memory alone. And while you may be proficient on the keyboard, you’ll want to at least have the option for taking handwritten notes. Carrying your laptop to every meeting and check-in can get tiresome, and looking down at a phone or tablet while someone speaks is rude.
Ask Everyone Two Questions
You’re definitely going to have more than two questions. But if you only have a few minutes with a colleague, or you’re not sure what to ask, stick to two specific questions: “What’s your number one goal for this year?” and “What is the biggest obstacle you currently face?” Understanding everyone’s priorities and challenges can give you clues as to where to focus your energy.
Hold Off on Recommendations
You were hired for your experience, skills, and knowledge, but be careful about offering up suggestions or big ideas too early. You run the risk of looking like a know-it-all or annoying stakeholders who are resistant to change. Plus, even a good idea may be shot down because you’re new to the company. Spend your first week or so listening, processing information and familiarizing yourself with the company culture. Given adequate time, your ideas will be more informed and better received by your co-workers.
What did you learn during your first week on the job? What advice would you give to a new employee?
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.