New Grads: What to Expect on Your First Week of the Job

As a new college graduate, your first job is a momentous and once a in a lifetime opportunity. And, as with beginning any new experience, you may feel nervous and uncertain about what to expect during your first few days and how to make the best impression. Consult this list to see how to thrive in your first week at your job and use it as a building block for professional success.

No Expectations

Don’t expect the workplace or your job to be exactly like college. You won’t have marketing or chemistry class every Thursday from 3:00 to 4:30. Every week, and even every day, can be different. Even better, expect the unexpected. Before you begin your job, write down a few possible scenarios of events that could occur in your first week and how you will act and adapt if you are asked to attend certain meetings, trainings, or are placed in different social settings. This way you’ll feel better prepared for any challenge and won’t feel caught off guard. It is to your advantage to be flexible and go with the flow, as you never know exactly what you’ll be doing your first week. People may pull you into a last-minute meeting or you could go through a week of training – with no notice. Part of being flexible is your ability to have a positive attitude no matter what you may be doing. Filling out tax forms and learning the basics can seem laborious, but you should not complain. Being open to anything will create a smooth transition into your new workplace and eventual routine.

Make a Good First Impression

People place great value on first impressions, and it is important you pay attention to how you act, dress and communicate to ensure you’re consistent with your workplace and culture. According to research about first impressions done by professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University, as reported in an article in The Guardian by Rosie Ifould, first impressions and the brief moments of meeting new individuals are what drive our relationships. We analyze other individuals by a first handshake or hello. This is the concept of thin-slicing, where we assess a person by spending just a few seconds with him or her. Thus, your first week on the job is a critical time for establishing your reputation and credibility.

Be Aware of and Combat Millennial Stereotypes

Individuals could have preconceived notions about millennials in the workforce, especially regarding your work ethic and the way you interact with others. Be aware of the stereotypes. Do what you can to dispel them by being proactive, respectful and flexible. Some conversations that may have been appropriate in the classroom should be avoided in the workplace. Avoid gossip and referring to weekend activities that could be deemed not suitable for a professional environment. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t introduce yourself to your new colleagues and be friendly. Establish a sense of trust and a connection right away by finding and discussing shared hobbies or interests. Be prepared to work and collaborate with people of all ages, as opposed to just your peers.You’ll be spending a lot of time with your coworkers so create relationships early on.

Learn As Much As You Can

You are no longer in a university structured learning setting, but you should still expect to learn a lot. At this point no question is a dumb question. You’re probably nervous that you may make mistakes in an unfamiliar environment, but don’t let this cloud your ability to enjoy the experience and people you’ll be surrounded by. Write things down such as recommended web pages or set up processes that are of basic importance – it will help you remember the vast amounts of information you will receive in your first days, and you can refer to your notes later, as opposed to asking repetitive questions. People will be impressed with your conscientiousness and organization, and you can save the questions you ask for insight into your projects and deeper company topics. No matter how many questions you ask, expect to make some mistakes as you learn and adjust to your new environment and role.

Get Ready to Feel Exhausted

Even professionals who have been in the workforce for years and start a new job are tired during their first couple days. Transitioning from a university atmosphere to the 9-5 (and beyond) life can take months. Don’t be surprised if your first thought after arriving home in the evening is about lying on the couch and watching your favorite television show. Ensure you go to sleep early during your first week. Pre-plan a bedtime and stick to it to mitigate added tiredness. You’ll need all your energy to absorb new information and adapt to your workplace environment.

Your First Real Job Is Different

You may have interned before, but your first real job is different. Besides the complex process of navigating benefits and asking for time off, fellow employees will treat you differently as a full-time employee and hold you to higher expectations. You are fully responsible for when, where and how your work is completed. Be a self-starter and jump right in. Be proactive and ask your new supervisor “How can I help?”

Showcasing your work ethic and dedication early on is important, but also ensure you are taking breaks and taking care of yourself. You are responsible for your own time, so if you need to take a break and stretch throughout the day, do so. While it sounds like a contradiction, expect to feel extremely busy, but also have what may feel like too much downtime. Your new boss is probably trying to ease you into the work so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

You’ll also feel like there are thousands of things you don’t know and thousands of ways that your working day differs from a day at the university. You may have been first in your class at school, but this is a new start and people have been in the workforce and at the company longer than you. Your first week will be full of more listening than talking. It takes time to adjust, but in no time you’ll feel like an expert explaining to the next new hire how you successfully pulled off your first webinar or coded your first page on the website.