It may be true that you only have one chance to make a first impression, but there are a lot of people to impress during your first week on a new job. You likely met your direct supervisor and some of your team during the interview process, but now you will make your debut to the entire office. For your first week on the job, retain the confidence and charm that landed you the position in the first place. You got this!
No matter how exacting the questions were during your interviews, they were largely hypothetical. Your first week in the office is the proving ground. Now is the time to put all of the words from your interview answers into action. Following these tips for your first week on the job will ensure that you bring your A-game.
1. Do Your Research
You will be amazed at how much you can learn about an organization through a simple online search. Start with the organization’s website, and read everything. The “About” page, the mission and vision statements, the staff and board of directors pages, all of these hold useful pieces of information that could come in handy later. Picture six months out when you’re helping your boss prepare her presentation for a board meeting, when you can casually comment, “doesn’t the board chair like tennis? Use a tennis analogy.” These little facts you’ve internalized could pay huge dividends down the road.
Don’t rely on the institution itself to be your only source of information: search the news, social media, and trade publications to see what the organization says about itself, and what others say about the organization. This will enable you to show up on day one with the institutional knowledge to rival the founder.
2. Arrive Early
Your first week on the job is all about optics. Since you won’t have a tremendous amount of autonomy yet, you’ll want to present yourself as someone at the ready. This includes being at your workstation, coffee in hand, by the time your colleagues arrive. Arriving 30 minutes early for the first week will give you some time to acclimate yourself to the office, enjoy the calm before the storm, and project calmness and confidence when your harried coworkers run in from their daily commutes.
3. Keep Busy
It is common during the first week on the job that you won’t have many assignments. You may be sent to your workstation to read some training materials, review old memos, or “set up your computer.” Most of this is code for keeping yourself busy and staying out of your boss’s hair. Even if it feels like busy work (and it likely is), it’s your job! Read the memos. You may be tempted to use the downtime to post selfies from your new office on social media, but remember that your first week on the job is an extension of the job interview, so you need to act accordingly.
4. Be Proactive
Once you’ve mastered all of the orientation materials you’ve been given, don’t sit around and wait for orders. If it’s not clear what you should be doing next, check in with your boss and confirm that you’ve completed all the tasks you’ve been assigned. If there is downtime, find ways to remain occupied at your workstation that don’t include distracting your colleagues with small talk. If you’re really in a bind, return to the first tip on this list: open your browser and instead of scrolling through your social media timeline, do some more research about the company.
5. Ask Questions
Because of your confidence and poise, your colleagues will soon be talking to you as though you’ve been with the company for years. This means they may start giving you abbreviated instructions, like “make sure to run this by Sheila” (who’s Sheila?) or “make sure someone in GC reviews this” (what’s GC?). If you don’t know, ask! You may feel like a nuisance, but asking clarifying questions during your first week actually reveals the care with which you approach your tasks. But try not to ask the same question twice: ask once, and write it down.
6. Learn Names
You will be making many introductions during your first week on the job, but do not treat these interactions as perfunctory. Learning people’s names is a simple and useful tool for ingratiating yourself to your colleagues and earning their trust. One scientifically proven trick to improve your ability to retain names is to look into your colleague’s eyes when you meet them (and making eye contact will help them remember you as well). Greeting your coworkers by name will demonstrate your investment in personal relationships as well as your attention to detail. Who knows, you Karen from finance could end up being your first office buddy!
7. Be Humble
As a recent college graduate, you bring a lot to the table. You come with newly minted professional skills, proficiency with technology, and an entrepreneurial spirit. When you begin your first job, you’ll be eager to put these skills into practice, which will likely include updating systems and workflows that may seem cumbersome and outdated. Before you come out the gate with suggestions to upend business-as-usual, make sure you take the time to thoroughly understand the processes that have already been implemented, as well as how and why those systems have evolved. Approaching your colleagues with a humble and solutions-oriented attitude will increase the likelihood that they’ll recognize your good intentions. Be sure to understand and master your role on the team first before you make any suggestions for others’.