It’s that time of year where workplace First Days abound. College students have landed internships, graduates have garnered that prized position, even high school students off for the summer might be headed to a first job. If you’re in this group, you might be wondering how to begin your new job in order to ensure success? First, know the adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” rules the day. How you show up on Day One truly matters since people are going to make snap judgments about you and label you a certain way — right or wrong — which will follow you throughout your time at that company. This is basic brand management — your brand management — and how you handle it is important. You need to start off right, but how? Follow these three easy steps.
First, get to know the company you’re working for as well as you can. Obviously, you would have researched them before the interview that landed you the job, but continue to do this before you start so that you arrive that first day with thoughtful questions about the company. Then, while you’re walking around meeting your new co-workers, perhaps being introduced to your new boss, get curious. Ask questions like “tell me about your impressions of the company,” “where do you see the company going in the next three years?” or “what changes have you seen happening in the industry?” If you come in asking questions people will begin to know you as someone who is willing to learn, interested in your company and industry.
Second, get curious about the people you’re working with. As you’re meeting co-workers, don’t just introduce yourself, but follow up about them. Don’t be afraid to say things like “tell me about what you do here” or even “I would love to learn little bit more about what your role is and how you got here.” Seek to learn about other peoples’ backgrounds and what their roles are; it will serve you since you’ll begin to develop long-term relationships early. Plus, you’ll know exactly who does what and where to go to for information which will make you more efficient and effective in your own position.
The most important thing you must do as a new hire doesn’t necessarily have to happen on the first day but should happen within the first week. You need to meet with your direct supervisor and say to him or her “before I go too far down the path, tell me about what success for me and my role here would look like for you.” Clarify this information with your supervisor by asking questions like:
- “Are there other people I should be talking to and building relationships with?”
- “Who could help me do my job better?”
- “What things should I not do?”
- “What are some landmines you’ve seen people in my position get stuck in here that knowing that right now would help me?”
Asking these kinds of questions up front not only positions you as a high potential in your supervisor’s mind, but also sets you up for success.
Remember, most summer internships are organized to be a prolonged audition process. Having these kinds of conversations and establishing yourself in the short term is especially important because you’re interviewing right out the gate. If they really like you, upon graduation whenever that is, you’ll be offered a long-term role; they’re going to determine that within those three months. Use your time wisely!