There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than a job interview—until, of course, you’ve actually landed the job and you’re headed to your first day of work. You have to meet everyone, navigate a new building (um, where’s the bathroom? The break room? My desk—again?), and prove that you’re ready to do a kick-ass job—with dozens of new sets of eyes all on you.
Sure, it’s a little stressful—but we promise, it doesn’t have to be that bad! It can even be kind of fun. With this walk-through of your first day, we’ll show you how to make a great impression on your new co-workers and, most importantly, your new boss.
In the Morning
Wake up earlier than you think you need to on your first day—even if you’re convinced you can be up and out the door in 15 minutes, today is not the day to test that theory. Not only should you plan to show up to the office a little early, you’ll also want some extra time to swipe on lipstick and make sure your bag is stocked with all the essentials.
HR probably told you about the office dress code when you accepted the job, but if you’re not sure, err on the conservative side. Yes, I know you want to be memorable, but save the funky jewelry and avocado-green tights for a day when you aren’t meeting dozens of new people. You can’t go wrong with a knee-length skirt, black pumps, and a cardigan.
Leave your house with enough time to arrive to your office 15 minutes early—you’ll need time to navigate an unfamiliar route and deal with any surprise traffic jams, not to mention figure out where to park and how to find your new desk. You can always grab a donut or calm your jitters with a little Katy Perry sing-a-long in the car if you have extra time.
At the Office
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, be extra-professional on your first day at work—even if your office seems super laid-back. This means keeping your cell phone on silent and put away—nobody wants to hear your LMFAO ring tone every time your mom calls to see how work is going. Plus, chatting on the phone on your first day (or your first week, for that matter) is completely off-limits. Even if you hear other co-workers answering personal calls left and right, doing it when you’re the new girl seems presumptuous and can rub your co-workers and supervisors the wrong way.
Along the same lines, avoid any online shopping or Gchatting until you know the office Internet rules and have gotten a feel for the workplace culture.
Getting to Know You
There’s no better time to channel your inner extrovert than on your first day at work. Say hello to everyone that passes by your desk—smile, introduce yourself, and ask about their role at the company. If you’re awful at remembering names, try to repeat the other person’s name within the first few seconds of conversation. It sounds cheesy, but it’ll help cement the name in your memory (plus, it shows that you’re listening).
One of the best opportunities to get to know your co-workers is lunchtime. At many companies, it’s traditional to take new employees out to lunch on the first day. But if not, take advantage of your hour off by heading over to the break room and joining a table of co-workers. This is a great chance to meet other employees and show them that you’re friendly and approachable. (Just make sure to bring some food with you, so you don’t have to worry about scavenging potato chips from the office vending machine.)
Wrapping Up the Day
Even if your workday ends at 5, linger a little longer. Finish up any paperwork from HR, take notes about what you learned (including all those names that you’re bound to forget come tomorrow), and write down questions you have for the next day. Not being the first one out the door shows your co-workers that you’re there to learn, not just to collect a paycheck.
Congratulations! You’ve officially survived (and thrived!) on your first day of work. Head home, take off those heels, and pat yourself on the back. You’re well on your way to being a star employee.
Photo courtesy of Joi Ito.