12 Tips to Survive Your First Day at Work

It’s official: I’m a real adult now. 

Aka I survived my first day at my big girl job.

It was stressful for sure. But also super exciting and kind of exhilarating. Of course I hit some bumps along the way (as I’m sure everyone does…right?), so I thought of some tips I learned on my first day to help you on yours! Welcome to the real world.

Pack a lunch

Sure there’s a Chipotle only 0.67 miles from your office (not like you checked…) but that first day, you don’t know how long you’ll have for lunch or what your company’s policy is about eating out. So be safe, make a PB&J and proudly rock that brown paper bag.

Wear comfortable shoes commuting & change at the office

I learned this the hard way… I don’t care how cute those flats are, they’re going to give you blisters in the 10 minute walk between getting off the train and into your office. Then you’ll be cringing in pain/begging any of your new co workers for band aids. Instead, wear flip flops or comfy shoes while you commute/walk to the office and the change into your flats/heels once you get there. That way you also have another option when your feet are absolutely killing you at the end of the day.

Ask where the bathroom is

And the supply closet. And the kitchen. And your desk. Better to ask the secretary/office manager than wander around like an idiot.

Bring a notebook

Sure you can scribble down every detail about how to set up your phone on a tiny post-it note OR you can look professional AF and show up with a notebook, ready to work.

Make friends with the IT department

More likely than not, you’re going to meet with IT to get your email, phone, etc. set up on the first day. Ask them how they’re doing. How long have they been there? Do they have kids? Make small talk because they’ll be the people who will save your life when your computer crashes at 4:49 pm and your report is due at 5.

Keep your morning routine

If you usually have coffee in the morning, see if they have a coffee maker in the office or grab some Starbucks before you get in. Usually have a snack around 11 am? Grab something small from your packed lunch and munch on it at your desk. Of course you’ll develop a new work morning routine, but incorporating little things you usually do can help you feel more at home.

Do some research & read up

On my first day, one of my supervisors told me where the shared drive was on my computer and suggested I look through it. There were A LOT of folders. However, actually reading the majority of them gave me an idea of the projects my team was working on, the company’s organization system and the format of its files/reports. Ask if you have access to what your team is working on. Or start Googling your company & stalk it on LinkedIn. You’ll feel a little more in the loop of what’s actually going on.

Change your computer’s background

If you’re allowed to, change your computer’s background from the boring default screen to tasteful and office appropriate picture. Start making it feel like YOUR desk instead of just a random place you sit for 8 hours.

Walk around

Seriously. Don’t just be chained to your desk all day. You’re going to get antsy and stiff and no one expects you to stay stationary the whole day. Go take a walk. Say hi to people. You’ll feel better after you take a stroll.

Start organizing your inbox

The real world comes with a lot of emails. Like more than you can ever fathom. You look away for 2 minutes and suddenly your inbox is full again. That being said, start organizing your inbox so in three weeks you don’t have 467 unread messages that you should have read, well, yesterday. Even if you don’t really know how to organize your folders or what to delete, just do something. You can always reorganize or categorize once you have more of an idea what you’re doing but at least you’ll feel somewhat productive.

Stay until at least 5:15pm

Or just watch to see what people do at the end of the day. Does everyone shut down exactly at 5pm? Or do most people linger until 5:30/6? You don’t want to be that newbie that peaces out at 4:59 when people stay for another hour.

Be patient

The first day may be weird, exciting, scary, stressful, overwhelming and awesome all at the same time. But you’ll get it. Just hang in there and know that everyone started where you are. And one day you’ll look back and remember how clueless you were and be thankful because you finally figured it out.

You’ve got this. Go rock the real world.

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6 thoughts on “12 Tips to Survive Your First Day at Work

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