learn new work skills

When you search for career advice, you’ll find a lot of great articles about going through the steps to get the job. There are thousands of articles offering detailed interview advice, from basics like what to wear and tips on being the best version of yourself to how to answer the admittedly boring and tough interview question “what’s your greatest weakness?” There are even articles and blogs about how to advance your career at a company you’ve been employed at for several years. But we don’t talk much about what to do when you just start your new job. How do you navigate a new workplace? Should you befriend people right away to begin networking your way to your dream job?

Over the next three Fridays, starting today, we’re going to talk about what to do when you’re the new kid in the cubicle. We’ll go over getting comfortable in your new workplace, how to network with your coworkers, and how to be happy at your new job! Today, let’s start with getting off on the right foot from your first day.

The First Day

The first day of a new job is as exciting and nerve-wracking as the first day of school. You’re not sure you’ll make friends and you may feel worried about getting lost at the office, but you’re also happy to get started with a new adventure. Here are some tips to feel comfortable and make your first day a success!

Come prepared. Whether you’re in a training class with several other new hires or you’re being trained by yourself, coming prepared on the first day will show you take the job seriously and that you’re eager to learn what you need to in order to be a successful team member. This means being on time, making sure you have the materials you need (which could be proper footwear in the restaurant industry or notepad and pen to take notes), and having some questions ready that you’d like to ask the trainer. This shows everyone that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and the company. And, from day one, this sets you up for being considered reliable by your supervisors!

Get to Know the Company Culture. Every company and workplace has a different culture. Company culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Your new workplace may have a defined culture code in place. If so, you should be given something regarding the culture during your orientation. Familiarize yourself with it and see if you can spot the culture at work in different interactions in the office. If they don’t have a defined culture in place, there is usually a goals and/or mission statement that will be included in whatever orientation materials you’re given. The goals/mission statement can give you insight into the values of the company and may even give you a hint as to why they hired you. They probably look for people who have experience, sure, but a big factor for many hiring managers is how well you’ll fit in and embody the company’s mission or culture.

Be enthusiastic. At the end of the day, what all the new people you’ve met will remember most is your attitude during an admittedly overwhelming day. Everyone who’s gone through an orientation process knows that the first day is when papers are signed, benefits are outlined, people talk and talk and talk, tossing you information while you frantically scribble what you catch in your notepad. Or, you’re thrown into the mix right away and expected to perform your tasks with some small amount of skill. Whether or not you’re stressed, frazzled, or overwhelmed, being genuinely kind and enthusiastic will make a lasting impression on your co-workers and supervisors.

Whether you work in retail, a restaurant, or an office, the first day is stressful. Being prepared and arriving with the expectation you’ll probably be overwhelmed, but deciding to be cheerful about it can make a huge difference in your career.

In part two, next week, we’ll talk about how to network with your coworkers, supervisors, and other professionals in your new workplace!