12 Steps to a Great First Week at Work

Published August 28, 2017

New job, no problem. Here’s how to succeed as a rookie employee.

Starting a new job can feel like the first day of school: What should I wear? How can I make friends? Will I do a good job? Before you get overwhelmed, check out these first-week pro tips from Sherri Tantleff – an advisor in Full Sail’s Career Development department – and Full Sail grads Jesse Durlin and Joe Boutin. 

1. Be on time.

No need to be hours early, but arriving 15 minutes before your boss is an easy way to show dedication right away. “Be punctual and ready to go, and that means situated, at your desk, and with your coffee already made,” says Tantleff.  

2. Be social, but not too social.

Don’t run around introducing yourself to everyone in the building, but being open when the situation calls for it is ideal, says Tantleff. “Say, ‘Hi, I’m Sherri and I just started here. Nice to meet you.’ Eye contact and strong body language are key; remember, you’re still making your first impression.”

3. Check your attitude at the door.

“Don’t be cocky and tell everyone how much you know,” says Jesse Durlin, a 2004 Full Sail Show Production grad and owner of production company Orlando Productions. “No one cares.”

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…

“Questions aren’t stupid if they’re asked correctly,” says Tantleff. But, if you’ve been given any materials or online tutorials, study those first to make sure you don’t already have the answer. Joe Boutin, a 2009 Digital Arts & Design grad and CEO of Three21 Creative, always looks for his new employees to be proactive. “Come up with ideas and speak up in meetings,” Boutin says. “I appreciate new employees who not just do their job, but those who actually put forth the effort to be proactive. It really feels like they align with our agency and core values.” 

5. … But save your constructive criticism for later.

“Don’t make suggestions just yet,” says Tantleff. “Now is not the time to question systems or procedures. You need to get settled and learn why procedures are in place first.”

6. Dress for success.

A good rule: Dress the same way you did for your interview. “You’ll have a chance to look around and see what acceptable is,” says Tantleff.

7. Leave the tiki lights for your cubicle at home.

A family photo is okay, says Tantleff, but employees with elaborate cubicle or office setups have usually been there for a while. 

8. Hit pause on the mentor search.

“I wouldn’t expect to find your mentor in the first week,” says Tantleff. “It may turn out the person you thought you wanted doesn’t interact the way you prefer. Finding the perfect fit takes time.”

9. Steer clear of office gossip.

Chatty employees sometimes see the new person and immediately want to confide in him or her, but avoiding drama is crucial. “Talk about how excited you are to be there or ask questions about the company, but don’t get too personal until you’re settled,” advises Tantleff. 

10. Don’t send any Facebook friend requests … for now.

Some people prefer to keep their social media profiles personal. “When you’re first starting at a company, your focus should be on setting a professional reputation,” says Tantleff. “Before you share your Facebook and Instagram with coworkers, and in turn, your BBQs and parties and families, I’d wait until you’ve started making some good friendships.” 

11. Avoid negative talk about your last job.

The first week at work is almost like an extension of the job interview – you’re still trying to impress people even though you’ve already been hired. You wouldn’t speak poorly of previous employers in your job interview, so you shouldn’t now either, says Tantleff.  

12. Be a sponge.

“Take everything in,” says Tantleff. “Hear people’s opinions, but don’t feel like you have to agree with them. For these first weeks, your job is to listen. You learn the most that way. A lot will come your way – sort through it all with your own ears and eyes, which will help you navigate everything down the line.”

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