Those who have spent weeks applying for jobs have undeniably been told, “applying for a job is a full-time job.” Sure enough, you spent hours writing and rewriting cover letters, changing your skills on your resume to fit each job listing, and meeting with professionals over coffee or drinks to network your way to a new position. Once you’ve landed the job, the initial sense of excitement and relief might soon be replaced with a slew of concerns about what exactly the position will entail and how you’ll fit in with your new coworkers. Have no fear! We spoke to career coaches Amanda Nell and Deborah Federico to get their advice for how to make the best of your first three weeks at a new job.
01. Try to relax the night before.
We know, we know: This is much easier said than done. Instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong, try to find comfort in the fact that you were hired because the company has full confidence in your abilities—so much so that they wanted to make you a member of their team. Federico suggests meditating to clear your mind, but if you’re feeling too anxious to sit still, spend some time at the gym or take a long walk to replace your nerves with feel-good endorphins.
02. Arrive fifteen minutes early the first day.
Enthusiasm, especially first-day enthusiasm, is always a welcome trait to have at the office. But, even if you’re energized by first-day jitters and eager to leave the house, it’s best to only arrive fifteen minutes early. Federico says that if you arrive any sooner, your coworkers might not be around to let you in or greet you. Nell also suggests arriving five to ten minutes early for the first three weeks, as well as staying five to ten minutes late. However, she warns that doing so might lead others to expect that you’ll always be early or willing to stay late, so young professionals should strive for the much-idealized work/life balance.
03. Pack a lunch.
Until you learn your coworker’s eating schedule, whether it includes “Mexican food Mondays” or “discount burger Wednesdays,” it’s best to brown-bag your lunch. In some offices, coworkers might go out for lunch every day, while others might eat at their desks. “Every place is different,” she said. “Try to get a feel for the unspoken culture before asking someone to lunch.”
04. Be proactive about meeting your coworkers.
Starting a job is similar to moving to a new school in the middle of the year. You arrive when people have established routines and friend groups, and it’s up to you to adapt to the pre-existing culture. Even if you’re typically quiet, Federico suggests making an extra effort to converse with your coworkers. To break the ice, you might recite a short, prepared “elevator speech” that explains who you are and what you were hired to do. Federico also suggests bringing in food to share. After all, everyone wants to get to know the person who brought in homemade cookies.
05. Be patient.
You’re adjusting to your new environment, but your coworkers are also getting used to having you in the office. It might take your boss some time to reply to your email questions, so in the meantime, try to solve the problem yourself. You’ll show initiative, which, combined with enthusiasm, will make for a great impression.
06. Seek out a mentor.
“You can’t walk around the first few weeks asking for a mentor,” Federico said. “A lot of the time it happens organically.” If your organization doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, seek out the advice of people whom you admire and whom you get along with. The relationships often happen naturally, and what starts as a friendship with an older coworker can blossom into a mentorship.
07. Disconnect from social networking sites.
It’s tempting to spend downtime looking at pictures of your former roommate’s sparkly new engagement ring on Facebook, but social media shouldn’t be used during office hours for the first few weeks, even if “everyone else is doing it.” Instead, seek out a new project or take a lap around the office to chat with coworkers. Nell also advises against wearing earbuds while working, as it makes you seem less approachable.
08. Be a team player.
Life, much like a new job, is a team sport. And as the saying goes, the team is only as strong as its weakest member. As the newest teammate, you should go above and beyond to prove your spot on the team. Offer to collaborate on projects and keep a positive attitude. The positivity should be reflected not only in face-to-face correspondence but also in your written correspondence. Be wary of anything you write about your new job, whether on social media or in an email, as Federico warns that written documents can come back to haunt you if they say anything disparaging about coworkers or the company. Above all else, remember that learning the office culture takes time, but a positive attitude and homemade baked goods can make the transition much easier.
Photo by Yvonne Rock