While starting a new role can certainly be exciting, there’s always a little bit of nervousness too, at least if you’re anything like me! Especially when starting a position, we often feel pressure to make sure we’re doing everything right and setting the best first impressions, which can be hard when there are so many unknowns about your job and the organization you’re becoming a part of. Now that I’ve been in my current role for nearly two years, there are many things I take for granted that I didn’t know starting out, so I wanted to share with you some of the questions and topics I’m glad I asked about when I was beginning in my role, as well as some things I wish I’d known sooner!
While external appearances aren’t all that matter, they certainly play a role in setting first impressions and helping you feel your best. Make sure you wear outfits you’re comfortable in, especially when it comes to footwear. Depending on your role, you might be touring buildings or engaging in activities, so at least until you have a feel for your typical day, it’s a good idea to plan to wear pieces you can move around in. Once you’ve accepted an offer and set a start date, be sure to talk to the recruiter you’ve been working with or your supervisor about dress code expectations and what you should plan to wear for your first day. At some organizations, you might be expected to dress a bit more formally the first day for an employee ID photo. In some companies, employees dress more casually on Fridays, so it’s good to have an idea of what is generally acceptable to wear and which items should be avoided.
While your supervisor will likely have a role in your initial training, it’s a good idea to find out where or who you can go to when you have questions, as they’re bound to pop up particularly within your first few weeks. In some cases, your supervisor might want you to work directly with them, but often they will have other obligations that mean they aren’t always available. So, it can be a good idea to establish where you will go when you’re unsure of something. Sometimes in new roles, we feel pressure to perform, so you might feel like you have to figure something out on your own or you can’t ask a question. From my experience, it’s far better to reach out when a situation like this arises to learn quickly and get on the right track, rather than trying to work it out alone, which usually takes more time and creates more stress on your part. This also helps you build relationships with your peers as well as possibly provide opportunities to learn and problem solve together.
Food Situation & Breaks
While this might seem minor in the grand scheme of what you’ve been hired to do, taking care of your physical needs is essential to performing at your best. Similar to dress code topics, you might want to ask your recruiter or supervisor once you’ve accepted an offer about food options. Sometimes lunch will be provided on your first day, or some businesses have cafeterias where you can purchase meals, while other roles will require you to bring your own meals. Some jobs require long hours in remote locations where you’ll need to bring all the water you’ll need throughout the day, so it’s important to iron out these details. When starting a new role, there’s a lot to learn and process, so it’s important to make sure your body is properly fueled. Additionally, make sure you have an understanding of the expectations around breaks. How often are breaks typically taken, and for how long? Is there a certain time limit to your lunches, or is it up to your personal discretion? Additionally, if you have any specific dietary concerns, be sure these and any other needs are communicated with your supervisor and/or HR representative.
Learn the Norms
Many of the points we’ve covered here have to do with norms, or the typical practices within any given organization. But, beyond what to wear and how long you’ll have to eat, there are going to be countless other norms you’ll pick up on throughout your integration into a new company. Some of these you might be able to ask about right away, but recognize some of them will come with time. Do people normally communicate through email, phone, or in person? Are there specific hours of the day you’re expected to work? What are the norms surrounding working over the weekend? When you can, reach out to others and ask questions. Working with your supervisor will help you identify the key contacts who can give you the appropriate answers, rather than risking misinformation from a random coworker. The key here is to do whatever it is you need to do to acclimate yourself with the organization and feel comfortable in your new role. Rather than take it on yourself and wonder if you’re on the right track, reach out, ask questions, and seek feedback. Connect with your supervisors, coworkers, and the people in roles to support you as an employee, such as Human Resources. Doing so shows you care about filling your role to the best of your ability and will set you on the path to success in whatever position you find yourself in.
Of Possible Interest:
• Checklist for Relocating
• The Desk Essentials
• #BulldogOnTheJob – Bri: emphasis on managing mental health while working
• Tips on Transitioning from College to the Working World
• On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
• Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources
Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services