You’ve made it! They were impressed by your CV, you nailed the interview and now it’s the night before your first day…
It’s safe to say that your first day at work is always the scariest, but it does get a lot easier. Trust us! Some people play out how the day will go in their head the night before. We wouldn’t suggest this. Your mind tends to go into overload and you’ll lose sleep.
The first thing to do the night before is to plan the outfit you’re going to wear to avoid rushing around like a headless chicken all morning. It all depends on what the dress code is like in the new office (you should have found this out during your interview), but we recommend to play it safe with a smart casual look. Spare some time to also pack your bag the night before. Essential items include a notepad and pen, a bottle of water, passport and ID (this is usually for the finance department so they can add you to the payroll) and always pack a lunch. Take some spare change just in case there is a handy vending machine for some afternoon snacks, and you’re all set!
Depending on what time/how far away you live from work, we suggest waking up at least 1 ½ hours/2 hours before you need to be in the office. This gives you plenty of time to get up, freshen up with a shower, eat some breakfast and get ready. As we mentioned before, missing your alarm and waking up late doesn’t put you in the best frame of mind for your first day. It’s always difficult to work out what time you should arrive on your first day: if you arrive too early you will look too eager but arriving too late is a no go on your first day. As a general rule, arrive 10 minutes before you’re meant to start. This gives the team enough time to get your desk and paperwork ready; plus it shows that you’re punctual.
Usually on your first day at your work you will have a brief introduction with your line manager about the role and what is expected for the first week, plus a rundown of what you will be doing. Once you have sat with them and you’re back at your desk, draw a little diagram of the layout and write down team names. What happens if you forget a name? Don’t worry, it happens. Remember, it’s your first day! Just make a little joke out of it, like “I’ve been introduced to so many people today, so please forgive me for forgetting your name.”
It’s time for a coffee break, so consider earning some extra brownie points with the team by making them a brew - some teams go for a coffee break together. If not, it’s the perfect opportunity to speak to your new peers in the office.
Everybody loves a lunch break! Most companies are pretty relaxed about when you take your break, but we would suggest waiting for a signal or until the conversation comes up on your first day. You don’t want to be that person who goes first only to find out that it's actually 30 minutes later!
You’ve had your lunch and you're now ready to power through the afternoon. Most companies will get a new person to do a task on their first day. If it’s something you have done before it might be a case of learning it on a different system, but don’t feel like you have to rush through every task. If you do that, your line manager will expect this every time from you, and you could make some clumsy mistakes. On the other hand, if it’s a task you haven’t done before, you don’t want to take too long doing it. Find a middle ground. If you do finish early, always double check your work.
If you are working in a big team, for example a marketing or business development team, you might be asked to attend a brainstorm meeting. This gives you a chance to see how the team works together, who takes the lead and how you would fit in in order to bring your strengths to the team. Write down notes to gauge the type of thing people say and your place in the team, because nobody likes a smarty pants who tries to run the show on their first day!
And there we have it; your first day is done and dusted. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Obviously all workplaces are very different, so don’t take this guide as absolute gospel. Hopefully this gives you a rough idea of how your first day will go. Good luck!