- Do your homework beforehand.
The last thing you want to do is start the day frazzled because you were late. So do everything you can to prepare the night before: Choose your outfit; confirm where you’re meeting your manager and where to park; finish all your onboarding paperwork; and check the traffic or the bus schedule in case you’ve not visited the office during the busy commute hours.
You’ll also want to prepare a little 10-second summary of who you are and what you’ll be doing for everyone who asks.
- Be enthusiastic.
Even if you feel overwhelmed, fake it ‘til you make it, as they say. That means putting a smile on your face and showing you’re happy to be there. Gladly answer questions about your background, even if 20 people have asked the same question as you made your rounds. You want everyone to know that you’re delighted to be part of the team and are going to jump in with both feet.
- But don’t be toooo eager.
Yes, there is a happy medium. There’s a difference between wanting to be an asset to the department and immediately offering a bunch of suggestions before you even know how things have been done. It’s too easy for those ideas to be perceived as criticism, and you to be perceived as a newbie who doesn’t know their place. You want to come on strong, but not too strong.
- Take notes.
As you’re introduced around, you never know when you might meet someone who shares a gem you should write down to refer to later. Carry a notebook and pen to show you’re interested in gathering all the intel you can. And if it’s awkward to write down someone’s name or other information while you’re standing in front of them, try to jot down what you can remember when you get back to your desk.
- Get to know the office “ropes.”
This is a good time to sit down with the HR team to find out what you should know about hours and other workplace expectations, such as whether you can be on the floor by yourself, stay late to work extra hours, etc. This is also a good time to highlight any questions you have about benefits and how to take advantage of those that might be unfamiliar to you.
- Say “yes.”
If you’re asked out to lunch, say yes. Ditto a quick after-work powwow. And if someone asks you to be on a committee to plan the next office team building activity, yep…say yes. You want to meet as many people as you can right away.
- But don’t get too friendly.
Again with the happy medium. Yes, go out to lunch with someone, but the next day try to go out to lunch with someone different. That’s because until you know who’s who in the zoo, you don’t want to form a fast friendship with someone who might end up being the office gossip. So, keep all your options open as you navigate these first few days of work.
- Find out about tech-related office policies.
From your company’s social media rules to their preference that you do work on company-provided devices only, it’s vital to know how your boss expects you to adhere to cybersecurity. For example, you might want to enthusiastically post a selfie on your first day, and they might require that you use a certain hashtag to show you’re an employee. Nail down the specifics before you inadvertently commit a digital-related faux pas.
- Embrace your newness.
The good news is that everyone knows you’re new so there’s no reason to pretend to know more than you do. Take advantage of this buffer time to ask all the questions you want; before long, it gets more complicated as coworkers assume you might or should know something, so use this time to ask away. Conventional wisdom says there are no dumb questions, but there are really no dumb questions on the first day! And if you do forget someone’s name, make a joke…”Sorry I forgot your name; I’ve met about 100 people today!”
- And, embrace your nervousness.
Wondering if you’ll say or do the wrong thing? You might and that’s ok…this advice isn’t designed to make you feel that you must be perfect! First-day jitters are to be expected, so just take a deep breath, put on a big smile and do the best you can.