I’ve had quite a few first days on the job with my past internships, jobs and placements. The first day is always the worst, most nerve-wrecking and awkward of them all, but I always think, once the first week is over, I’ll start settling in and by month three I should be part of the furniture.
There are so many thoughts and feelings with starting a new job; will I fit in, will they like me, what will my team be like and will I be able to do the job that I’ve been hired to do? All relevant and normal things to think about when starting a new job and you just won’t know until you fully immerse yourself in your new role and get stuck in.
But as well as the typical things that everyone thinks about when starting a new job, there are a few things to also consider in those first few weeks. You may not consciously think about these things, but there are aspects of you that your team will notice and that you may need to think about within the first month of your new job.
1. YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
First impressions matter. But so do your actions that follow that first day. The first few weeks and even months cement the kind of person you are in the office. I’ve spoken a lot about personal branding before but that was mainly to do with your personal brand online, not in person.
Related: Five Ways to Build a Personal Brand
But when it comes to your personal brand in the office, you should think about things like:
- Your outfit: will you wear heels or flats? Will you dress casually or smartly? Will you always be in a dress/skirt or is a trouser suit more your thing? Think Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfield and their sunglasses or Simon Cowell and his white t-shirt/jeans combo.
- How often you grab coffee: honestly, people will notice. Is it a morning thing? Or more of a seven cups a day plus five after 4pm?
- Your desk: how you decorate your desk will say a lot about your personal brand at work. At Coty, my desk was covered in polaroids of me and other interns, posters of members of One Direction (yes, honestly), magazines, perfume, fake tan, make-up, nail polish and a large desk mirror. We all compared our desks to teenage girls’ bedrooms. But I loved my desk at Coty. My current desk in NYC is quite bland since I work in a corporate office. I’ve got some pens and post-its – not very glamorous.
- How you spend your lunch times: this is quite a deal breaker. Will you work through your lunch and eat at your desk? Or will you take your full hour and leave the office? You are entitled to have your full hour lunch break so there is absolutely no shame in taking it and it’s quite sad that there is actually a little awkwardness around taking your full lunch break. If you become associated with working through your lunch every day, it’s going to become expected of you to do so, when it shouldn’t.
2. BEING AN ASSET TO THE COMPANY
One of the best things you can do at your job is to become an asset. If you were to leave, how nice would it feel to be missed and needed to keep the team working efficiently. If you are easily replaceable, then your company might just do that and replace you.
Think about what you have to offer and make sure your colleagues know that you are there to help. Good at proofreading? Know how to code? Or even just a good hand at graphic design? You could be very useful to a team that you don’t actually work closely with but could need your help.
Offer your services and prove to be a great asset to not just your own team but to the business as a whole.
3. NETWORKING WITHIN THE COMPANY
The first thing I was required to do at my new job was to introduce myself to the whole team via telephone since my team are based in San Francisco, London, Scotland and New York. Us Generation Z’s/Millennials are known for not being well adapted at speaking on the phone since we’re so used to texting, so this was definitely out of my comfort zone.
But, it was honestly a great way to get to know my team and find out what they do and how I’ll be working with them. Plus the more that I spoke on the phone, the more comfortable I became with it and it’s now second nature to me to call someone instead of emailing as I have so many phone meetings.
Get to know the other people in your company, where they come from, their previous experience, how long they’ve been working there, what they do etc. Make friends within your workplace but also network as you don’t know what doors they could open up for you in the future.
Warning to my friends, I will now be calling all of you instead of texting.
4. MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
It’s easy to fall in with the office gossip within your first few days as they will be eager to give you the low down on who to avoid and who’s always at lunch time happy hour on a Friday.
But especially in your first few days, you’re best keeping on guard and getting the lay of the land, the who’s who and what’s what before getting involved in office chitchat.
The exception to this of course is if someone is doing something unethical, or illegal, because of course you should then intervene.
5. WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
The job that you are starting should be one that you can see yourself progressing in, learning from and being able to develop yourself in your career.
Think about the opportunities this job is going to give you and how you can go about getting them. Set some targets with your manager of the things you want to achieve in your first year, and if you see yourself there even longer, jot down some long-term goals too.
Think of the things that you could make your mark on, or change for the better. Don’t go in thinking you’re going to overturn the whole company, but suggesting some different ways of doing things is never a bad idea. It will all depend whether your manager or those above are open to change.
Go into your new job full of enthusiasm, excitement and eagerness. Do your best, see if the job and company is right for you and then find your flow.