The first day of a new assignment can be rather stressful. Even when you are eager to sink your teeth into something new, it’s common to feel a mixed bag of emotions ranging from excitement to fear. It’s never easy to be the new person on the team, especially as a consultant or contractor. Despite any nervousness you may feel, it’s important to start your engagement off on the right foot. If you’re starting a new assignment, here are some tips to help set you up for success on day one.
- Put on a happy face: On your commute, listen to something uplifting that will put you in a good mood. Arrive early, and walk through the door with a confident smile and a positive attitude.
- Learn names quickly: When you meet a new co-worker, repeat their name out loud to help you remember it. Say, “It’s very nice to meet you, Sally.” If you didn’t catch the name during the introduction, ask the person to repeat their name to commit it to memory.
- Ask teammates what they do: Ask new people about their specific jobs. This will show genuine interest in getting to know each person and their contribution to the project.
- Get clear on your goals: Sit down with your direct supervisor to get a clear picture, preferably in writing, of the goals set for you in your first few weeks.
- Develop a game plan: Take those written goals and break them down into milestones so you have a roadmap to work with.
- Communicate: Learn how your direct supervisor and the people you will work closely with prefer to communicate and keep up to date.
- Carry pen and paper: Even if you have an actual photographic memory, it is important to be seen writing things down in your first few weeks on the job. Taking notes shows you take the assignment seriously and limits the number of questions you have to ask down the line.
- Ask questions: However, when you do have a question, ask it. Don’t assume you can revisit the topic later. Make sure to write down the answer so you don’t have to ask the same question twice.
- Identify potential mentors: Even though you will only be on an assignment for a short time, it will serve you well to identify potential mentors who can help you succeed.
- Stay past 5:00: Even if you do not have any work to do, don’t be the first person out the door at the end of the day. Take time to set up your desk or check in with your boss.
- Remember your manners: People will help you throughout your first days and weeks. Make sure to offer a sincere, “thank you” to each person who assists you.
Your first day can set the tone for your entire engagement, and you never get the chance to go back and do it again. Your team and your leaders will be watching you and yes, judging you, throughout the day. Always put your best foot forward to lay the groundwork for a successful assignment.