What to expect in your first graduate job
The first day of a new graduate job can feel as daunting as it is exciting. What to wear? Who to ask for help? How many questions are too many? Don’t worry – here’s everything you need to know.
Starting your first professional job can feel like a big leap into the real world, and can take a bit of getting used to.
Regular hours, having to dress ‘appropriately’ for work, and having no time for an afternoon nap will be hard to adapt to, but you’ll get there (we promise).
The transition from uni into employment isn’t as hard as you might think. We’re here to calm your nerves and give you a rundown of what to expect in your first job.
What to expect on your first day at a new job
It’s completely natural to feel a bit nervous on your first day, but the most important thing is to act confident. Be enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows you’re keen.
It goes without saying that you’ll need to turn up on time and dress appropriately.
When it comes to figuring out new things, whether it’s a complicated operating system or just the photocopier, use your initiative but don’t be afraid to ask for help either. Your colleagues will be more than willing to show you the way, but likely won’t have time to spoon-feed you everything.
Your boss is the person to turn to for bigger questions, while your colleagues are most suitable for questions about day-to-day tasks.
Put yourself forward to take on work and projects, even if they’re not expected of you. Show that you’re happy to rise to a challenge and not just stick to what’s in front of you.
And remember to keep away from your phone, even if your colleagues are using theirs. You might be desperate to post a photo of your new desk on Instagram but it won’t impress your boss this early on in the game.
What to bring to work on your first day
There will likely be a fair bit of admin stuff to get through on your first day, so make sure you come prepared. To get yourself on the company payroll you might need some official documents and an ID.
You’ll probably receive an email ahead of your first day to let you know what to bring, or you can ask your boss over email if you’re unsure. Either way, here’s a checklist of common stuff you’ll need:
- National Insurance number/card
- UK visa (if applicable)
- P45 (if moving from another job)
How to tackle imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is really common for graduates in their first ‘proper’ job after university.
It’s a term used to describe a feeling of not being good enough to do the job you’ve been given, that you’re a fraud and you’re waiting for someone to find out that you’re not as talented as they think you are.
It’s certainly not rare to feel like this. Everyone from Emma Watson to Kate Winslet has opened up about their experiences with imposter syndrome.
If you’ve been chosen for a job role, there will be a reason for that. The company clearly thinks you’re up to the part. But that doesn’t necessarily stop you from feeling like you’re not.
Here are our top tips for tackling imposter syndrome:
- Ask for help when you need to – If your boss gives you a new task, it’s unlikely they’ll expect you to know how to do it immediately. They probably expect you to draw on the resources around you to learn, and your colleagues should be at the top of your list of resources.
- Don’t dwell on mistakes – You’re bound to slip up and make a few mistakes in your first few weeks. That’s fine. It will provide a good learning experience. Try not to fret over them too much, and certainly don’t let them stop you from taking on new challenges.
- Talk to your friends and colleagues – Talking to your friends (either at work or home) about the way you’re feeling will almost definitely be met with an “OMG, me too!” from someone. This will make you feel much better about yourself, believe us, and you can discuss ways of overcoming imposter syndrome together.
- Fake it ’til you make it – If all else fails and you still feel like you haven’t got a clue – simply do your best. Once you’ve settled into your role and got used to the work, you’ll realize you’re no longer blogging, you actually do know what you’re doing. It can take time but you’ll get there.
Tips for navigating office politics
Office politics can feel pretty complicated at first.
Our first piece of advice is to be perceptive. Listen and pay attention to how people in the office interact with each other, so you can gauge the different dynamics between them.
Regardless of people’s positions in the company, treat everyone with respect. Particularly when chatting to senior members of staff, don’t get intimidated by their power. Being as approachable and friendly with them as you would with anyone else puts you in a great position for promotions.
It’s never okay to drag people down in an attempt to get closer to others. Avoid any bitching and unnecessary gossiping as it’ll only come back to bite you. If your colleagues try to lure you into saying things about others that you’re not comfortable with, remain polite but don’t get involved.
Make sure you don’t take all the credit for something if other people were involved and give out credit when it’s due. Doing so will prevent you from stepping on people’s toes.
Stay sincere and genuine in your interactions with others and you should come out of the office-politics minefield unscathed.
How to speak confidently in meetings
Meetings are kind of like university seminars. Only, they can feel a tad more daunting when everyone else around the table is more senior than you.
If you find yourself struggling to speak up and share your ideas, here are our top tips:
- Do your pre-meeting research – If you know the meeting’s topic in advance, do some research and think of ideas to raise. If it’s a more general ‘touch base’ meeting, think of two or three points you’d like to discuss. Bringing notes in with you can help you relax.
- Ask questions – If sharing your own thoughts and ideas still feels daunting, try just responding to others. Listen carefully to what other people say, and think of some questions to ask. This will get you into the habit of speaking so you can build up to contributing your own ideas. Showing interest and engagement will also impress your boss.
- Set goals before you go in – Think about your performance in the last meeting and how you want to improve this time. Perhaps you want to speak at least three times or put yourself forward for more tasks. Setting a goal beforehand will help push you out of your comfort zone to achieve it when you’re in there.
- Don’t overthink things – It’s common to think of something to say, then spend 10 minutes picking it apart in your mind before you decide it’s a stupid idea (only for someone else to say the exact same thing minutes later). Obviously, don’t just blurt out any random thought that pops into your head, but stops overthinking and try to speak without hesitation.
Tips for making friends at work
Going into a brand new workplace where you don’t know anyone can be scary, and you might be desperate to make friends straight away. But just remember not to force it.
You’ll be working with these people every day for months, if not years, so don’t panic if you don’t find your work BFF on day one.
Try to find common interests with the people you work with. Even if they’re a few years older than you, it doesn’t mean they don’t watch Love Island or enjoy a cheeky Nandos at the weekend.
Find common struggles, too. For example, if there’s a piece of software that’s a total nightmare to use, see if any of your colleagues feel the same. There’s no better way to bond than with a good old moan.
Don’t go overboard, though. It won’t go down well with senior management if they hear you loudly complaining in the office every day. If you have any serious issues, bring them up with your boss in a meeting.
Be careful about oversharing, too. You can talk about what you did at the weekend, but don’t mention any drunken shenanigans, and certainly no swearing or offensive jokes; keep it professional.
And don’t forget that anything you share over email or Slack can be screenshotted or forwarded to others, so don’t say anything you wouldn’t be happy with your boss seeing.
Also, make sure to go along to after-work socials when they happen. And if they don’t happen, why not organize them yourself?