Preparing For Your First Day on the Job

Classes are over. Late night trips to the library have come to an end. And, most importantly, you’ve landed that great first job. Congratulations! Now, you must get up each morning for a new adventure called “work.” You’re probably filled with a mix of excitement and nerves. What will the first day be like? Who will you meet? Are you ready for the challenge? Will you make an impact on the job?

Most employers want students to be a sponge, to soak up their training and then bring something to the table. Remember, they hired you because you were the most qualified candidate. There was something about you that caused your employer to think you have something unique or important to bring to the table. Bring it!

I want to share a few tips for success as you begin your new position, so you can be ready to shine.

  • First, get plenty of rest the day or weekend before your first day. It is paramount that you are fully rested so that you can be fully engaged during your first week. There will be a lot of information coming at you during the first week; you want your memory to be in top shape.
  • Be sure that all of the pre-work has been completed. Most companies will send you paperwork that must be completed and mailed back before your first day of work.
  • Know the company’s dress code. It’s important to be dressed appropriately. Many companies have moved to business casual dress attire. But, be sure that you understand what business casual is for your company. Does it mean that men still wear suits but can skip the tie and occasionally the jacket? Are women expected to wear skirts or dress pants with button down shirts? Or, does everyone wear khaki pants and polo shirts? It’s important to know what to wear, but even more important what not to wear.
  • Get to work before the scheduled time. On your first day, and even in your first week, you want to be sure that you arrive to work before you are scheduled. This will allow extra time in the event of a traffic jam or other unexpected transportation issues. It will also give you time to find your way around.
  • Once on the job, ask clear questions to gain an understanding about expectations. I am sure that by now you understand that the only dumb question is the question that you do not ask. Often, new employees will want to ask a question but don’t want to appear that they are stupid. So, they do not ask. Please know that you are probably not the first person to ask your questions. Ask away!
  • Listen. Learn. Take your time. During your first days on the job, it is normal to feel overloaded. You might even ask yourself if you made the right choice in taking the position. This is normal. Work to gain the knowledge you need to succeed and then you can begin to figure out how to manage your way through all the processes.
  • Remember that you were hired for a reason – your skills, your knowledge, your ability, your potential. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by those who have been on the job longer than you. Bring your knowledge to the table. Speak up when you have an idea. Blaze your path as an emerging leader.
  • Live up to your supervisor’s expectations. If your boss doesn’t schedule time in the first few weeks to discuss performance expectations and measures, request a meeting to discuss your role in detail. Knowing these expectations will ensure your success.
  • Seek out an informal mentor or trusted coworker to help guide you as you learn the company culture and norms, as well as the organizational structure. Starting a new job is exciting, but also a bit scary. Having a go-to contact can help you get up to speed much more quickly and provide you with a better understanding of how things work within the company. Feeling shy about selecting one person? See if your company has a Networking With Us page and join the company’s Facebook page or other networking group.
  • Learn, learn and learn. The first six months of any new position is a learning process. Learn as much about your job as you can, and then learn some more. Find creative ways to get more out of you job and to bring more to the position. Doing so will allow you to find new levels of creativity and push you to do more on the job.

Your first day will be exciting and challenging. You’ll probably come home thrilled and exhausted. As you start your new beginning, remember to take pride in your accomplishments and continue to reach for the stars. Congratulations on your new job!



Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR). Follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, or just Network with Us.

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2 Responses to “Preparing For Your First Day on the Job”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    Great list Derren. Where were you on my first day anyway? One thing that I would add to the list is to focus on communicating professionally. This includes speaking clearly and succinctly and writing emails with proper grammar, no typos and without texting abbreviations. This is important in any business environment, but if you are in consulting or some type of customer-facing position, it’s even more critical.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

  2. This is a great advice whether you’re a student or senior citizen starting on the first day of a new job. And yes, be sure to look picture perfect because you’re probably going to get your photo taken for your work I.D. badge.
    Good luck to all.

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