First-Day Nerves: Preparing For Your New ‘Do Good’ Job

Posted by | March 12, 2015 | How to be awesome at your job, Looking for work, Work tips


Preparing For Your New ‘Do Good’ Job blog header

So, you’ve found your mission, submitted an excellent CV and nailed the job interview? Congratulations! You’re starting your ‘do good’ dream job.

You’re thrilled and nervous. Who wouldn’t be? New jobs offer equal measures of terror and delight (like being attacked by zombies while having dinner with Michelle Rodriguez and Benedict Cumberbatch). That’s why we’re here to help you prepare for your first day at your new ‘do good’ job.

Tip #1. Research, Research, Research

Intellectually, the easiest way to prepare for your first day is to gather as much information as possible. Re-read your contract, dive into your workplace website, scrutinise social media, probe partner organisations, lightly stalk relevant grants, funders, competitors and so forth.

If the occupation is new to you, expand your exploration to new heights! Your research may include jogging your memory regarding concepts, processes or protocol. For example, when setting out to captain a community centre, I might brush up on concepts of community development, re-visit working within a Te Tiriti framework, and clue-up on what other centres are doing in their communities.

Take it from me: when you’re lost in a first-day thunderstorm, your prior research will provide an anchor for your inevitably overwhelmed brain to hold on to.

Tip #2. Question, Question, Question

Like cockroaches in dirty kitchen,  all your research from #2 should dredge up billions of questions about your new role and workplace. Write them down and bring them to work. Instead of asking them all at once, ask your questions when a relevant topic is being explained or discussed with you. If your questions haven’t been answered by the end of the training, handover or introductory period, set those questions free to the appropriate person.

Tip #3. Practice Makes Perfect (Commute)

If your new job is in a new location, make sure you test run your commute before your first day. Whether you travel via bus, train, cycle, car-share or foot, practice your route and time how long it takes to arrive.

Tip #4. Set Those Alarms(s)

This one’s pretty standard, but you really don’t want to be late on your first day at your new job. That’s why it’s a good idea to calculate the time you’ll need for commuting, coffee, breakfast, showering, dressing, grooming and arriving 15 minutes early. Then allow a little extra on top of that. It’s better to be early. You can always drink more coffee and walk around the block, nervously twitching and muttering to yourself.

Tip #5. Prepare Your Work Outfit the Night Before

Like a parent of a toddler before a birthday party, lay out your work outfit way beforehand. This way, you won’t, in a pre-coffee-stupor, accidentally put on a see-through shirt, or your favourite Ninja Turtles tie.

What to wear? Hopefully you gained a good idea of appropriate attire at your new workplace during your job interview. Many ‘do good’ jobs go for the casual-professional approach to attire. If this is the case for you, lean more towards the profesh’ than the casual on your first day. You can still wear your lucky Batman undies though, unless your new employer happens to be The Penguin.

Tip #6. Pre-pack Your Bag

Simple right? This means basics like keys, wallet, cellphone and lip-balm, to prevent those early-morning scrambles where your credit card is discovered to be in the fridge.

Super-size these essential items for your first day. Add a packed lunch, notepad and pen, phone-charger, extra toiletries, any paperwork that you’re required to bring (tax number, bank-slips, proof of ID) and a bottle of water.

Extra tip? Make sure you have the phone number of your new workplace, in case your bus is attacked by a raging T-Rex and you have to call from the Courtenay Place phone-box in which you are hiding.

Tip #7. Get Enough Sleep

Your first day can be especially challenging, you know it! So look after yourself. Get to bed at a reasonable hour the night before, avoid caffeine after 4pm, do a bit of aerobic activity to tire yourself out and don’t use your computer or watch TV for two hours before you plan to kiss your pillow.

Tip #8. Set an Intention 

Just to get a bit hippy on you: why not set an intention for your first day? If you’re a super-perfectionist-Type-A-type, perhaps you could set an intention to be kind to yourself. If you’re an lackadaisical Lucy, set an intention to stay focused and keep check-lists.Write down your intention somewhere you’ll see all the time: stick it in your wallet, diary, or Google Calendar. When you feel stressed, remember your intention.

If this doesn’t work, you could always try directing your first-day stress at the author of this blog-post, for making annoying suggestions. Let me know how this goes!

Tip #9. Plan to Relax 

Plan to relax after your first day of work. Take it easy, and skip that evening Spanish class and/or book a babysitter. That way, if your first day frazzles you, you’ll be looking forward to an evening of solitary panda painting, watching Call the Midwife, or taking your pygmy retriever for a walk.

Tip #10. Start as You Mean to go on

Be kind, polite, friendly. Say hello, be respectful and use positive body language if you like that sort of thing. Try not to light anything on fire (unless you work in pyrotechnics). Get the basement built, so you can rocket sky-high. Do good!

By Liz Willoughby-Martin

Like this post? You might also like How to make your CV ‘good-looking’ and Interview tip: you can’t fake passion.



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