Your first day at a new job can be one of the most stressful. Sure, a new job is exciting, but it can also be incredibly nerve-wracking when you don’t know anyone and aren’t sure what the office culture is like, or what your job will entail. All of that combined with a shiny new workload.
So what can you do?
Most problems that pop up early in a job are due to lack of communication. Maybe you assumed something worked the way it did at your last job, or your boss forgot to add you to an email list and you missed an important deadline.
Avoid these problems by asking questions. Don’t pester your co-workers needlessly, but do politely ask for help when needed. If they seem busy, send them an email asking if you can schedule a time to ask questions. The company is new to you—nobody expects you to know where everything is and how the company systems work on day one.
It’s much easier to handle the stress of a new job when you’re ready for it. So start preparing the night before. Pack a lunch and pick out an outfit (make sure you know the dress code) before you hit the hay. If your job requires equipment or safety gear, prepare that ahead of time as well. That way you won’t be in a rush looking for a favorite pair of socks minutes before the workday begins. Think about packing a healthy snack too—you don’t want a growling stomach to annoy your coworkers.
Go to bed early. A healthy eight hours of sleep ensures that you’ll be bright and eager to work on day one. A good night’s sleep also makes it easier to get to work a few minutes before you’re scheduled to arrive. That can give you a bit of time to mentally prepare for the coming day.
You should already have a good idea of what the company is like after your initial research and interviews, but take a few hours before that first day to research even further. Make sure to at least know the basics of the products or services the company is selling. Bonus points if you can obtain an organizational chart for the department so that you know who the players are. If the chart has pictures, get started on memorizing those faces.
Imagine you’re back in first grade. What did Mom say when she handed you your lunchbox outside the classroom? “Make friends!” Or maybe “play nice!” That advice applies to your working life too.
After you’ve been given the tour and filled out any needed forms, seek out your coworkers. Introduce yourself, and get to know them. A new job can be much more manageable when there are work friends to support you when the workload gets tough.
Feeling proactive? You can also try to coordinate a pre-first day lunch or coffee meeting with the boss and the team. That can make breaking the ice on your first day much easier.