Surviving the First Day (Month) of Work
So you got the job and now it's time for your first day of work. Most people, including myself feel uncomfortable on their first day of work. A lot of times you can walk into a situation and feel like it's not what you expected, or you may also have feelings of not being a part of the team.
I get at least one call a quarter from an intern or recent graduate that starts a new position and is unhappy within their first week. Often times the job and the people are not what they expected. Either they are doing tasks that they feel are menial or they are thrown into the fire, and are not receiving the training they need to be successful. It would be wonderful if all companies had extensive training programs that taught you everything you need to know to be successful, but unfortunately that is rarely the case. With or without the training you still can utilize certain tips to be more successful during your first 3 months at a new place. This is generally the amount of time that it will take for you to get the full picture of a position and company, and even after 3 months things will still surprise you.
Dress to Impress
I always start the first day of work in a suit. I make it my goal to look my best those first few days. This is when you will be meeting everyone, including the higher-ups, and as we know first impressions matter.
Having a good relationship with co-workers can definitely affect the happiness scale at work. Make sure to smile and say hello to everyone. It would be great if a co-worker or supervisor took you on a tour that included introductions, but that doesn't always happen. As you walk around your new environment give people a smile and a friendly hello.
Write Everything Down
During those first few weeks a pen and notepad should be glued to you hand. You may or may not receive formal training, so you have to be ready to train on the go, picking up information where you can. I often times find that when an employer asks me if I can "hit the ground running" during an interview, I know that I will be receiving very little training. I prepare myself by doing research online and learning as I go.
If you don't know something, ask. This is the time to ask your co-workers questions about procedures and processes, making sure to always write down the answers. Perhaps it's best not to ask during a big company or client meeting, but afterwards feel free to go to your supervisor or co-workers with your questions. No one expects you to know everything, so take the pressure off of yourself.
Keep your cell phone in your pocket
I just got a call from an employer that stated that this quarter she had one of the best interns she's ever had. She stated that this was the first intern that didn't have her cell phone on her desk the whole day. During those first 3 months you will be on probation, be on your best behavior, and best believe your employer is going to be watching for things like this. I love my cell and I take it everywhere, but during the beginning stages keep you cell phone on vibrate and in your pocket/purse. You can check it occasionally, but try to keep your focus on getting to know the people right in front of you.
Those first 3 months are critical to proving yourself, which doesn't mean that you have to know everything just that you are willing to show up on time, have a pleasant attitude, and do the work. And despite everything you try you may still not like your new position, however I caution you against just quitting, especially if you haven't been there for 3 months. I've had many jobs that I've hated after just the first few days and with some of them I still hated it months later. But looking back I have to admit that I learned so much about my industry and work politics. Each experience, each job, leads you somewhere on your career path, and often times you may not know the value in that moment, but looking back you can see how every situation influences your career choices.
So whether you love it or hate it, try to give each new position a chance. Horrible work situations have made me tougher and smarter. I have learned that I can hit the ground running and make a lasting impression through my work ethic and positive attitude.