July 5, 2018
Anyone remember shin splints or growing pains? I would argue that change is rarely comfortable -- even, and especially, the good kind. Any type of life change or transition is hard to navigate. Remember the first day of elementary school? High school? College? Each first day brings its own challenges of learning new things, acclimating to a new environment and meeting new people. Grade school you, high school you, college you ... all YOU! With these tips, you can feel better prepared for your next transition -- your post-college job.
Everyone has trouble remembering names, especially when you're meeting a lot of people at once. Give yourself a leg up by checking to see if your company's website has an “About Us" page. Glance over the faces and names to help you better remember. Check out company social handles, too! What are the topics discussed? Who else is engaging in the conversations?
Although they may not be your immediate co-workers, get to know the names of the people you bump into in the elevator and see in the parking lot every now and then. You never know when those connections might come in handy. Being new is also a perfect and easy conversation starter with your new colleagues and soon-to-be friends.
You've probably heard this a million times, but it's true. Not only will arriving to work early make you look dependable and punctual, but it can also give you some leeway for the logistical problems you are bound to encounter, like finding parking and getting into the building. Although gloriously overused, it's true: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so make sure you come early and well rested for those first opportunities!
The process of starting an internship or job can bring about those throwback first-day-of-school jitters. Everyone gets nervous around a group of new people. Know yourself and use that knowledge to your advantage! If you're outgoing, take the initiative to get a small group of coworkers together for lunch. More of an introvert? Try to connect to one other person or direct teammate over a low-commitment coffee run. Get to know what they like to do on their weekends. Not only to try and make new friends, but also to pick their brains for restaurant and activity recommendations. Luckily, some of your co-workers will likely have similar interests or motivations to you, and don't forget: Whether they are new on the job like you or have been there for years, you know you have at least one thing in common!
Every office is different and every company has a unique culture. As you're getting acquainted with your new space, make notes of how casual or professional everyone dresses and what people do on their lunch breaks. Do they all sit together in the break room or eat at their desks? Is it okay to listen to music while you work? Noticing the little things will better help you feel comfortable in your new environment and better prepare you for day two. Your manager or supervisor and other co-workers are there to help you with this, too. Take advantage of any orientation sessions with Human Resources and ask questions.
In college, you probably only have a couple hours of class a day and take a few hours here and there to study. Even then, you know some of those early morning or mid-afternoon classes can be doozies. I remember a 2 p.m. stats course (right after lunch) my sophomore year of college where I could not keep my eyes open (and I LOVE stats). So remember, the standard professional workday is a full eight hours and you're bound to get tired and antsy after a while. Coffee, snacks and even a walk around the block are your friends.
Just because you've landed a job or internship doesn't mean the networking should stop. Take time to ask your superiors about their career paths and go to as many office events as possible. You'll build out your network, and have fun while doing it.
Learn about the various projects your company is part of and ask to help on the ones of interest to you. If there are employee resource groups or employee networks at your company, attend their events and learn more about them. Are there any interesting task forces, volunteer events or other workplace initiatives you could be part of? While you're doing this, know your own limits so you don't bite off more than you can chew; it's okay to say you can't take something else on right now.
You cannot possibly have all the answers on your first day! Ask any and all questions you have and don't feel like you're being a nuisance. Even the simplest of questions are worth asking and it will make you a more productive and valuable team member.
At the end of the day, everyone you work with -- your co-workers, your boss and your boss's boss -- are human too. We all make mistakes and we all have things that motivate us, so just try your best and you'll be a pro in no time. In business, as in life, it's how you respond to failure and what happens next that count the most.
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