26 Women Share Their Best Tips For Surviving That Super-Awkward First Week At A New Job

by Megan Grant
20th Century Fox

Humans are hardwired to be nervous when starting a new job. That anxiety goes back to our hunter-gatherer days, when we needed to protect ourselves in unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situations. While such isn't typically the case anymore, most of us still experience serious first-day jitters when starting a new job. If you follow some of these tips for your first day of work that women recently shared on the AskWomen forum on reddit, though, you may find the transition to be a little bit smoother and more manageable.

The first week, even few weeks, at a new job can be overwhelming. There are so many names and faces to memorize, new processes to learn, and you want to make a good impression on all your new coworkers while also impressing your boss. It's a lot to ask for. It's not unlike starting school or going on a first date. New territory leaves us on our toes with a heightened awareness, and we really don't want to make a mistake — like call our cubicle neighbor by the wrong name or accidentally walk into the men's bathroom. (Happened to a friend.)

People are going to cut you, as the newbie, some slack; but if you want your first day at a new job to go better than planned, here are 27 helpful tips from women, for women, on how to get through that first week.


Ask For Help When Needed

Always be resourceful, but ask for help when needed, and do it sooner rather than later. If you've been on the job for four months and are just now asking where the stapler is, there's a problem.


Don't Talk Too Much

Some of us do it out of nervousness or to fill an awkward silence. You're not responsible for carrying the whole conversation — speak up when you have something to say, and don't make yourself responsible for picking up all of the conversational slack.


But Talk At Least A Little

Find the balance. People are going to want to hear from the newbie.


Try Not To Pass Out

Avoid this.


Be Punctual, Meaning Early

You don't need to show up 45 minutes ahead of time; but an extra five or 10 minutes will make you look prepared and professional. Also, you might really need it.


Know The Important Details Prior

If your first day is approaching and you still don't know who to report to, just ask HR. It's much better than showing up and saying, "I have no clue what I'm supposed to do."


Come Prepared To Take Notes

This is a must, and it's a better alternative than your phone, which should be on silent and put away.


Go With The Flow

Enjoy lunch, but not too much. Don't feel pressured by employees who try to get you to hang out longer than you feel you should. You're responsible for you, and abusing lunch will make you look bad. Especially in the beginning, you should be extra cautious.


Dress Accordingly

Unless the dress code specifically calls for suits/dress suits, know you can dress professionally without needing something suit-ish. Dressing appropriately also means bringing a sweater just in case, and wearing shoes you've worn already and know are comfortable. Note: even ballet flats can leave blisters! Don't show up in a new pair and risk being in pain all day.


Stash Feminine Products In Your Bag If You May Need Them

Asking for a bathroom break is up there around asking for help and asking for someone to tell you their name again. Don't be shy. You're human. You need to pee.


Know Your Boundaries And Respect Them

This one is tough, because for many of us, we see our work friends more than anyone. Of course, it's tempting to get close, because it's natural. Be mindful of blending your professional life and personal life too much, though.


Choose Your Words Wisely

When it doubt, leave it out. Remember you never know who can see your email, so why risk it? If you want to talk smack, do it after work with a friend or relative outside of your job.


Think Of Other People

Remember: you have something to learn from everyone. Don't monopolize the conversation and make it all about you.


Consider Your 401k Beforehand

If your employer offers a 401k, you'll probably know about it ahead of time. Come prepared with a plan and any questions you can think of.


Get Their Names Again

There's one of you and several of them. Of course you'll forget names.


Understand The Chain Of Command

Knowing who does what is a big plus. Try looking for it online first, and ask HR if you can't find what you need.


Budget Extra Time

Don't assume you'll clock out at five o'clock on the dot. Starting a new job often means staying late because other people are fitting you in to their schedule.


Get The Full Tour

Maybe your office isn't enormous, so this isn't as needed. But at the very least, you should know where to find specific coworkers, departments, supplies, the kitchen, and the bathrooms.


Add Your Photo To Your Email

It always helps to put a name with a face. Email can be so formal — help your new coworkers get to know you a little bit better.


Come Bearing Snacks

Everyone loves snacks. Show up with doughnuts or coffee, and you'll be everyone's new best friend.


Avoid Job-Bashing

Just because it's in your past doesn't make it appropriate to discuss. If you're talking smack about a previous job, it stands to reason you'll do the same about your current one.


Never, Ever Gossip

Same as above. People know that if you'll talk about other people to them, you'll probably talk about them to other people, too. Be kind, always.


Eat The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Okay, so there's still some debate about whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Have a snack, at least, and bring something to munch on in your bag, to be on the safe side.


Bring Government Documents, Etc.

HR will be impressed with your preparation, and it'll make the whole process go so much more smoothly.


Respect All Degree Levels

This is really important. Don't get cocky just because you have a higher degree; similarly, don't feel like others are justified in speaking down to you just because you "only" have a BA. Everyone works hard and deserves respect, period.


Be Courteous In The Kitchen

Common courtesy. Cooked broccoli and eggs are another one. Just say no.