When starting a new job, you’ll likely spend the first-day juggling excitement and nervousness. Most new employees embrace a transition like this but find negativity creeping in by the end of the day.
In fact, the following thoughts are common for most people starting a new job.
Yay! New job!
You should start your day celebrating! After all, this is that new + better job you worked so hard for. You conquered the job search, and you made it to the first day.
Did I forget something?
Most people face a moment of panic in the car walking into the front doors. If you forgot your coffee, you can likely grab a cup in the break room. If you forgot your lunch, you can always walk down the street and find something. If you forgot to brush your teeth, someone likely has a mint.
I know that I know your name.
You will be meeting several new people, and you’re not likely going to remember everyone’s name. Rather than stressing out, accept that you will need to ask multiple times before learning everyone’s names.
That wasn't mentioned in the interview.
Try not to be too shocked if you find that certain negative details were excluded from the discussion during your interview(s). If it’s a big issue that will impact your lifestyle or wellness, address it with the Human Resources department immediately. It may have just been a misunderstanding.
That phone is ringing; should I answer it?
It’s best to clarify your responsibilities for the day before you’re left alone. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wondering if you should be answering phones. If you are expected to answer the phone right away, ask who your point-of-contact should be for directing calls or answering questions.
Where is that exactly?
Remember, the first few days will be a learning experience. Don’t panic about what you don’t know. Ask any and everyone for help, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone started out not knowing where every room is in the building.
Who is that exactly?
The same concept applies to this thought too. You will need several weeks to a month to learn who every major player is in your new company. Start by developing a relationship with the person you will work the closest with. This person should naturally help you learn names and locations.
I think I'm going to like it here.
Change can be exciting, and it’s easy to see the greener grass at first glance. Hold tight to this positive thought. It will sustain you when the day becomes more stressful.
Am I underdressed/overdressed?
Appearances are important. If you find yourself uncomfortable, you are likely under or overdressed. Try laughing it off, and plan to adjust your wardrobe choices tomorrow. The key to transitioning into a new job is to learn where you fit in and will be the most comfortable.
Can I swear here?
So, exactly how comfortable should you aim to be? Your place of employment is a place of professionalism. Even if the company culture is relaxed, restrain yourself from being unprofessional or crass. This speech is best reserved for close friends.
Is there a grace period if I'm late getting back from lunch?
Being early and on time for everything on your first day may not be realistic. There will likely be some grace on your first day or two, but you should always keep an eye on the time. Don’t wander too far from your new place of work for lunch, and double-check when and where you should be next after a midday break.
Am I doing this right?
Sure, you were hired because you were the most qualified candidate for the job. That doesn’t mean that you are expected to know the company’s processes and procedures immediately. Keep asking questions and learn as much as you can as quickly as you can.
I don't need my hand held for everything; I'm not an idiot.
It’s frustrating when you feel incompetent. Often, asking questions on your first day may inspire others to talk condescendingly to you or become too helpful. Take a deep breath, and appreciate the extra help rather than thinking negatively about yourself.
I don't know what to do; maybe I am an idiot.
You will likely run into a roadblock or two on your first day. As you’re learning and transitioning, learn to cut yourself some slack too. Find your mentor or new cubicle buddy and ask specific questions.
I have nothing in common with these people.
By the middle of the day, you may find yourself feeling like an outsider. As you’re learning about your new co-workers, try to show genuine interest in their interests. To make friends, you have to be a friend.
I think I might hate it here.
Negativity can set in if you’re feeling lonely or incompetent. It’s important to find a mentor that you can express your frustrations and receive encouragement back in return. Without a mentor, negative thoughts will ruin your first day.
When can I pass the New Person torch to someone else?
The New Person stigma will pass in time. You will learn, adapt, and become a valued member of the team over the next few weeks. Be patient, and embrace the learning experience. You may even become a mentor for the next New Person.
Will I look like an alcoholic if I invite someone to get drinks after work?
First impressions are important, but don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from being yourself. If you enjoy Happy Hour, there is no harm in inviting your mentor or work buddy to get to know each other better after hours. If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you can always wait to see if you get the invite first.
Is it time to clock out yet?
As the day is winding down, you’ll likely struggle with a cocktail of emotions: excitement, frustration, loneliness, and a whole lot of new information swirling around your brain. It’s common to finish your first day at a new job exhausted and ready to head home.
Day One is done, and this might not be a good fit for me.
If your day has been particularly frustrating and lonely, try not to lose heart. The first day at a new job is difficult for most people, but it does get easier. You can always keep your eye out for another job opportunity, but give the new job a chance. Tomorrow is always a new day.
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