Starting a new career is so exciting. We apply to countless job postings in effort to move forward, we finally land an interview which could lead to second or even third interviews and then, if we’re lucky, get the call that we have been selected! Awesome, right? While it is a truly awesome thing, it can be very scary to move on.
For me, I had been working at my first Public Relations job for a little over four years. This company was the first in the industry to give me a chance. I am grateful for them. The perks were superb; my co-workers were awesome, I was close to my manager, I got free garage parking in downtown Cleveland, the culture was great, we got free soda, I had nearly 30 days in PTO and the holiday parties were raging! I could probably go on and on about what I left behind but I had learned all I could from the position and capped out at a senior title. I also wanted to go into the nonprofit sector and have a career with more purpose. It was time to go. I luckily landed a Donor Relations position at a local nonprofit that helps people in the community get access to physical and mental healthcare, career coaching and much more. This is the direction I wanted my career to go.
With all that being said, transitioning is hard and I want to give a few tips, speaking from experience, on starting a new job:
Your last paycheck at your previous job will be mailed
This is severely inconvenient but it is standard. Your last paycheck is mailed and could take up to seven days to arrive. This means that you will receive your pay later than usual and will need to either save up money to cover any bills due within that time or just to have money in your pocket. Also keep in mind that there may be a delay in your paycheck at your new job, depending on what point in the pay period you were hired. Having a little cushion in this time will be crucial to your financial well-being.
“In case of doubt, overdress…” until you learn the dress code
My previous job sent me information with my offer letter about the dress code so I was well informed. My current job sent over a handbook and I searched the large document for the dress code policy and found nothing. I dressed business casual on my first day based on what I observed at my interview, to be safe. I learned that day, in orientation, that there wasn’t an official dress code. We were to dress according to department. My department never wears jeans but they don’t wear suits either so, my observation was correct. Pay attention to the people around you and always remember to dress for the position you want. Clothes aren’t everything but they do represent you. You may look a little overdressed at times but that’s not a bad thing. “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”- Oscar Wilde
Bring pens, notebooks, highlighters, a coffee mug, eating utensils and a water cup. Unless told, you don’t know what supplies are available for you. My current job has disposable coffee cups and actually provided us with a company logo water tumbler but I was at least prepared. I also don’t want to be wasteful by using the disposable cups. Having your own mug is eco friendly, y’all! You’ll definitely need to take notes so always have a notebook and pen. I’m a highlighter junkie so I always make sure I have those as well. Being prepared takes away a lot of the first day jitters. Trust me, you’ll feel much more organized.
Arrive ready to learn
Whether you’re entering a new career, like myself, or staying in the same realm, there’s always something to learn. Don’t cut corners on the note taking and take in as much as possible without overwhelming yourself. Remember that it’s okay to ask questions.
Get a lot of rest
With all that learning, you’re going to need your rest. At least for the first couple weeks, turn in early. Tell your friends you have to skip happy hour because you need sleep and can’t afford the hangover! You may become overwhelmed and will need this rest to recharge. Celebrate your first couple weeks at your new job in a couple of Fridays once you have your duties down packed!
Bring your lunch or research restaurants nearby in advance
I like to pack my lunch. If you go this route, pack your lunch in a bag with an ice pack. You don’t know the refrigerator situation until you get there. If this is a new area you’re working in and want to go out for lunch, google some lunch spots in advance so you’re not wasting your lunch hour hunting for something you like.
Observe and/or ask about the rules
If you’re sent a handbook by Human Resources, read it and learn it. Most of your questions about pay periods, rules, regulations and standard operating procedures will be in there. This will avoid you asking the questions and looking like you didn’t read what they gave you. Ask your co-workers or observe what they’re doing when it comes to having your cellphone out, eating at your desk, internet browsing and all of those other little things I’m sure you’re all wondering that may not be listed in the handbook. I’m always afraid to ask those questions so I tend to observe and follow the veterans’ lead on these things.
Look at this as a fresh start
Remember when a new semester would start and we’d say to ourselves, “I’m going to be awesome this semester?” We’d make promises to ourselves, no procrastinating, all A’s, Dean’s List, no partying,” and then we’d eventually fall off the wagon? Go into your new job with this exact attitude and actually execute! This isn’t school, it’s your well-being. It’s how you’ll continue your career, make a name for yourself in the industry and how you’ll take care of your household. Do everything to the best of your ability and use this to accelerate your career.