Starting any new job can be daunting, but starting your first ‘proper’ job can be terrifying! Since it has been a while since I started my first job, in preparation for writing this article I went to speak to some new starters at ABP who were good enough to share some of their first day anxieties.
Thankfully, all of the people I spoke to said that their day one anxiety had been completely unfounded and they had had a very positive experience. Despite this, it helps to be prepared. Here are a few tips, based on alleviating the top anxieties raised by my colleagues, to help you keep those day one nerves at bay:
Anxiety 1 – Not knowing anyone except the person who interviewed you.
Some organisations buddy you up for the first few weeks which helps you to meet new colleagues and can help you feel less alone in those early days. If this is the case with your organisation, see if you can meet or at least speak on the phone to the person who will be your buddy before you start. That way you have a connection before you arrive on day one. If you are unsure if your organisation has a buddy system, ask if you can shadow someone for the first couple of weeks and get an introduction beforehand so you have a point-person to go to.
The other thing to do in advance is to prepare and memorise a short introduction about yourself – you will be meeting lots of new people so thinking through (and jotting down) a few notes on what you might want to say about yourself in those first meetings can help you feel more confident and avoid the horrible feeling of stuttering over your words as you meet new people.
Anxiety 2 – Having to walk in on day one to a room full of people more experienced than you and getting something wrong.
The key thing to remember here is that you are the newbie – you are not expected to know everything. It is absolutely OK to ask questions, to clarify and to ask people to talk you through what they are doing and what is expected of you. Most people will love being asked about their job and it is a great way for you to make a positive impression and learn lots of new information. It is better to ask and clarify than to come across as a ‘know it all’ and put people’s backs up on day 1. There is a fine line between confident and cocky!
Anxiety 3 – Fear that it will be really unfriendly.
Most people like to talk about themselves and what they do, so asking questions and showing genuine interest will get most people talking and give you an opportunity to build positive working relationships. Remember though, keep it light to begin with and not everyone is going to respond positively. If someone in inexplicably stand offish or offhand, just appreciate that they might be having a bad day and give them space. It is most probably about them and not you.
Anxiety 4 – Not knowing how to get around, or where anything is and not knowing who to ask.
This issue will largely be resolved if your organisation has a buddy system in place. But if you do find yourself lost in a rabbit warren of corridors that all look alike, just stop the next person you see, explain that you are new and politely ask if they can direct you to where you need to go. They were new once too and most people will be more than happy to help you out.
There are also a few other things you can do to ensure you are prepared and on time for that exciting new job:
• Go over the job description the night before to remind yourself what you will be doing and focus your mind for your first day
• Put your clothes out the night before – make sure they are neatly ironed and looking sharp and place them so you can hop into them quickly in the morning
• Prepare your bag / what you need to take the night before. Make sure you have any essential HR documents required for your first day ready to go to avoid any early morning scrambles
• Pack a notebook and pen and jot down all the new information coming at you
• Plan your journey to work, with plenty of spare time and alternatives in case of any travel disruption
• Get an early night so you arrive knowing you are prepared and feeling rested
• Set your alarm early to ensure you are not rushing on your first day – there is nothing worse than dashing in red, sweaty and out of breath because you got delayed on your journey in
So choose your organisation well, and make sure you turn up prepared and ready for the new experience and you will have a fantastic first day experience. Remember, everyone has been here and you won’t be the newbie forever.