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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Ready or not: First day of work

<u’ve settled into your new place. Your clothes for the first day are ironed (tip: an iron is an investment worth making). Directions are ready. You’re set. You’re going to be the new kid again, so it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. Hopefully these tips will make you feel better prepared no matter what situation you find yourself in on your first day of work.


Orientation can range from a few hours to a couple of weeks depending on where you land. You will learn about benefits, corporate policies, and other topics that probably won’t seem all that relevant at the time. It won’t be the most exciting time of your life, but the information in these sessions could be the most important. Paying attention now could save you a lot of trouble in the future. Plus, you’ll feel extra official when they hand you your new badge.

New office or cubicle:

You will be sitting there for 8 hours a day so you want it to be clean and bright. Having candy and snacks available is a fun way to draw people to your desk and help you make friends. Plus, a sugar rush is sometimes necessary for those particularly sluggish work days. If it’s part of the culture, feel free to put up pictures of friends and family so that your desk feels a little cozier (obviously avoid making risque photo choices).

Supervisors or project managers:

Your supervisors and project managers are great resources to help get you started. They’re also the people in charge of your future at the company so do your best to impress. Maintain a friendly and professional relationship with them and check in regularly. A good relationship can turn into a mentoring experience that will be crucial when you are up for a promotion. You don’t want to be lost in a sea of anonymous new hires.

Work assignments:

Find out how work is assigned or delegated at your office. Is there one supervisor or project manager that you report to who gives you projects? Do you work on a team where you pick up tasks? This information is necessary for you to accomplish anything, so find this out on your first day. It’s also possible that when you start work you may not have much work to do. Talk to other people in your position and ask about their current projects. See if you can be helpful with small tasks which could turn into bigger tasks if you demonstrate your abilities.
If you don’t like the projects you’re first assigned, too bad. Work even harder to show what a dedicated employee you are. Take the initiative to seek out projects that you will enjoy. An employee with a good track record and attitude will always have more options and power to choose future assignments.

New colleagues:

Be friendly and genuine. It can be intimidating meeting a ton of new people on the first day but first impressions do last. Ask questions and engage others. People will ask you how you heard about the job, what you like to do for fun, and if you’re new to the area. Chatting about your interests outside of work can be an easy conversation starter.

An experienced mentor once told us to be skeptical of people who seem overly excited to be your new best friend at work on day one. It’s possible that they’re the person who other colleagues avoid in the office. As mean as this may sound, you probably don’t want to associate yourself too closely with Mr. Overly Friendly right off the bat. Avoid this problem by being polite to everyone and waiting to make friendships until after you are comfortable with the office.

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