You got your first job in the tech space and you cannot wait to start. You are proud that you have been selected over the other candidates for being that perfect fit, so what is there to worry about?
No education has prepared you for your first day in the new job. You seem to be all over the place and you are seriously starting to doubt if you are up to that job.
However, if you get the following prep work right, you will not only make a good first impression but you will also realize that most of your fears regarding your first job were ungrounded.
“There are reasons the company is as it is. Your first responsibility is to discover these reasons.” Kenneth Oldfield
1. Start by finding out who your go-to person is
In bigger companies this person is usually the HR manager, while in a startup this could be the Chief Technology Officer. Whoever that person is, ask if they have any recommendations on how to best prepare for your new tech role.
Ask for any reading material on the company that you are less likely to find online, such as organizational charts and the company policies.
Maybe there are some forms that you can fill out beforehand?
Also, check with them if you need to bring anything with you.
Most importantly, ask that person where your desk is and who you should report to on your first day.
2. LinkedIn is the best place for learning about your co-workers and the company culture
It is a good idea to look at the company LinkedIn page and learn more about the people you're likely to be working with.
What can be a better way to gain trust and respect from your new colleagues than chatting with them about an article they wrote on LinkedIn?
And what about adding as a LinkedIn contact the person who had that job in the company before you? Invite them for lunch or a coffee.
And since your predecessor is most likely leaving the job because of a promotion, they may be more ready to point out any difficulties your new job may involve.
Make the most of this informal lunch atmosphere and ask them where you can park your car, or what places are best for eating during your breaks.
Not sure what to wear on your first day? Reach out and ask! Don't dress to impress, instead dress for the occasion.
3. Show that you care by showing up on time
Try to be at least ten minutes early on your first day at work. The night before, try to relax by watching a favorite series or going for a jog and don't stay up late.
To find out what is the best time to leave home for work, try out different routes and transportation means the week before.
“Identifying and establishing the routines early on will give you peace of mind.” Indeed
4. In your first job your soft skills may matter more than you may think
Most of us are very anxious about meeting new people, especially if these people are going to be our new working mates.
Two things we worry about the most :
- Should I go ahead and introduce myself, or should I wait to be introduced?
- What if I forget the name of the person I just talked to?
The good news is that you can practice these skills, as any other skill.
Start by practicing your opening lines. Use your smartphone and record yourself while rehearsing what you will tell others about yourself.
You think you have a problem with remembering others' people names?
Research shows that 80% of people struggle with this issue too. Nobody will hold this against you on your first day, but further down the line, your co-workers may get upset if you misspell or can't remember their names.
Practice this skill by writing the names of your team members in a notepad or your smartphone. Repeat those names in your head before going to bed.
5. Non-verbal communication is as important as verbal
Since you are a newbie, the chances are that you will get a desk in an open space office and there will be no place for you to hide from the prying looks of your senior colleagues.
Take your laptop and go to a nearby caffe and practice working in a noisy and crowded place. Watch your body language - sit straight and refrain from yawning or touching your hair or face too often.
6. Brush up on your tech skills and learn new ones
Remember how during your interview you shared all those brilliant ideas on how you'd help the company to grow their business? Or how a specific problem came up and you had a great solution for it?
Now is the time to turn those ideas into a short proposal that you can share with your new team once you start working.
Brush up on the languages and frameworks that you said you knew during the interview but you had not been using them for a while.
Also, block some time to start learning the new languages and frameworks that are involved in your job.
7. Set yourself up for the constant change and blurring roles
Set yourself up for the constant change of your roles and the job expectations, especially if your first tech job is with a startup.
For example, if you are starting your tech career as a software tester, don’t expect that you will be sitting in a remote corner testing code in seclusion.
More likely you will find yourself in a busy agile team where responsibilities for testing greatly overlap. And prepare yourself for wearing more than one hat: one minute you will be testing the code, the next minute you will be helping a customer with an interface issue.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin
8. Last but not least, start fresh and be gentle on yourself
If possible, take at least a one-week break in between two jobs. You need time to clear your head and recharge your batteries.
And remember, no matter how much preparation work you have done, you are bound to make mistakes in your new job. Be gentle on yourself, don't beat yourself up over it.
Instead, follow the Steve Jobs’ advice, “Stay hungry, foolish, and continuously challenged.”
Why do you need to prepare for your first coding job?
To start with, unless you are a Noogler, there is a chance your new company does not have detailed onboarding and orientation packages or practices.
And as a tech person you know that you are more likely than any other professional to land your first job in a startup which is famous for lacking structure and written policies.
Do not engage in guesswork and assume what may happen on your first day at work. Learn about the company beforehand and show some initiative.
And on that, relax, be yourself and smash it!