What to Expect in Your First Job

You graduated, found a good place to land for starting your real career, now what? For all practical purposes, your first day at your first job may well go like this:  

Your First Day At a New Job

You have turned the alarm clock off even before it managed to squawk out a sound and you roll out of bed after a sleepless night. You don’t even dare taking a look into the mirror yet, so you just mosey along to the kitchen to get a caffeine treatment. Why is every important day in your life a bad-hair day?  

Before You Go to Work

It is not a bad idea to treat your very first day like you would a job interview. This applies to appearance, dress, general attitude, as well as to what you should bring along. Although you do want to be comfortable, make sure you dress up for your first day. Wearing the same outfit you did or would for your job interview is a safe bet. Remember, you can always dress down on the next day, if the environment allows for it. If your job requires a specific dress code and uniform, pay close attention to all the details. An EMT working in the field is going to have very different clothing requirements than an HR rep! Keep in mind that you will likely meet your boss in person and in fact, you may be toured around the workplace and be introduced to everyone. Prepare several unique pleasantries and introduction phrases ahead of time, they will make a much better impression that the same old “Hello, my name is…”  

What to Bring Along

You may find it useful to bring along the same documents as you did with your job application. An extra copy of cover letter, resume, or reference contacts never hurts for “just-in-case.” Also, you may be asked to fill in additional employment paperwork, so make sure you have several forms of ID with you and that you have your Social Security number memorized. Many business people bring along an extra set of clothing every day of their career. You should do so at least for your first day. Keep it in your car, or leave it in your office space if possible. An accidental spill of coffee can ruin the good impression you worked on all morning. Some workplaces require their own IDs. This means that you may have your photo taken, so bring along a hair comb and whatever else you need to look sharp for a photo. Come prepared. If applicable bring your laptop, but don’t neglect the traditional pen and paper notebook. You will want to take lots of notes on your first day. Don’t forget your cellphone, and be sure it is charged.  

You Might Be a Newbie, If…

…you ambitiously run to the first person entering the office with a big and cheery “may I help you,” only to find out it is the company’s CEO. …the first question you ask your boss is: “when do I get to take my first vacation?” …you attempt to bring down the house upon your grand arrival, bringing doughnuts for everybody. …the first thing you tell your project manager is how you used to do things at your last place or how to do things better. …you end up locking yourself inside a maintenance closet because you were too shy to ask the whereabouts of needed office supplies. …you try to fit it by joining the office grapevine with statements like, “I knew this guy, he was so…”  

Instead Make a Good Impression By...

Avoid the pratfalls above by being especially careful about professionalism when you begin a new job. Make your presence pleasant to other people by maintaining a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Be friendly, but do not overdo it, especially in the beginning. You do not have to treat everyone as your best buddy to be sociable; a great way to show your team spirit is by remembering all your colleagues’ names quickly. Avoid participating in any sort of gossip or complaining. Demonstrate a desire to learn by asking questions, seeking help, and responding well to criticism. Whether you are being praised or criticized, ask your boss or manager to elaborate on the details. This will show that you intend to learn from both successes and mistakes. Make sure that your employer is getting his or her buck worth when it comes to your work habits. Do not tend to personal affairs while on the clock. Come to work slightly early so you are comfortably settled by the time the work day officially begins, and resist the temptation to rush out of the office at the strike of 5. Prove how much you care by attending meetings and events, even when these are not mandatory. Communicate to your bosses and co-workers an attitude of appreciation. Be a team player and understand that the success of the company at large is correlated to your own personal achievement. When the company benefits, you benefit; when the company loses, you lose.