The lobby was empty, which was odd for such a large office building. It was so quiet, I could hear the air flowing through the vents. It made me shiver as the air was quite cold, and goosebumps made their way across my neck. Confused, I decided to proceed since I didn't want to be late.
The elevator was a bit rundown. There were pages from the days newspaper strewn across the floor, and the lights maintained a steady flicker. As I rode up to the 32nd floor, the elevator ride was unexpectedly bumpy. When the doors opened, I again felt the chill from the air vents. I walked forward to the desk and was greeted by an old woman. She didn't say much but she managed a grunt and directed me toward an old, cold, pot of coffee. As I sat and waited, employees dressed in old torn clothing kept walking back and forth, pointing at me and laughing. This was my first day, and I suddenly was wondering what I had gotten myself into.
First days on the job aren't usually quite that weird or scary. However, we sometimes make ourselves so incredibly nervous that we believe that the first days will resemble a nightmare. To avoid the stress, and the potential nightmare, remember these things..
1. You were hired for a reason. Whatever skills you have, and exhibited in the interview is why you're here. Don't doubt your skill, or ability to perform. Just go be you!
2. Ask Questions. You know what you know (see point 1), but there is plenty you don't know. One of the only ways to gain knowledge is to ask questions. If you don't understand, ask. Ask a manager; ask a coworker; ask a direct report. Not knowing is not an issue but not asking is. Want to avoid a nightmare, do yourself a favor and ask questions. Be a sponge, and soak up as much information as possible. The caveat however is, don't ask the same questions over and over. Make a real effort to learn what is being taught to you.
3. Write it down. Somewhat of an extension of point 2. There is a lot to learn, and you have to absorb it somehow. Writing down what you are learning is great for future reference. For those of us who don't usually write things down, it's still a good habit. Even if you never reference those notes, the act of writing it down reinforces the memory. For more on that, check this out.
4. Make Aggressive Mistakes. I remember when I first graduated, one of the lessons I learned was about aggressive mistakes. Certainly, this is dependent on your managers tolerance for mistakes, but any good manager would appreciate this. Passive mistakes, are negative outcomes made from inaction. "I didn't know, so I didn't do." For example, a client calls and leaves you a message late one night while at the office. They have an issue they need resolved ASAP, and need you to call them back. You don't know this client, and don't know what they want, so you decide to wait until the following day, when you have more resources at your disposal. That is passive. Aggressive is contacting the client, learning about what they need, and giving them an incorrect answer. Both outcomes are negative for the client, but as a manager, I'd like to see my staff take initiative to resolve issues. No one is always right, and making aggressive mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.
5. Utilize Resources. Sometimes we forget how many resources are available to us, especially when on the job. No matter how many times we use Google for leisure, we forget it's great for business. For example, I taught myself how to do vlookups, and utilize a variety of other formulas, just by Googling different examples. Not all information we need will be external, but most companies have a robust library of resources. The intranet will normally have information on policies and procedures, healthcare, and will even give guidance on how to complete expense reports. A lot of organizations also have robust Learning and Development resources. Learning doesn't stop at school. Pick up additional skills, learn new techniques, and keep your credentials up-to-date from using these resources.
Enjoy the new job, and good luck on this next chapter in your life!!