You landed a great gig—congrats! No doubt you’re excited, and you’re ready to march in and make your mark. Or, perhaps, you’re feeling a little apprehensive about adjusting to a new office environment, new coworkers, and new office politics. No matter how you’re feeling as you fill out that first-day paperwork and settle in to a new desk, follow these simple steps for a seamless transition.
1. MAKE FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE WHO’S WELL-ESTABLISHED.
This person doesn’t have to be your office bestie in the long run, but right at the start it helps to have a coworker who can walk you over to the supply closet or show you how to reserve a conference room. Ideally, this new acquaintance has been with the company a while and has a good rapport with the boss. Make a note of any questions you have about culture, expectations, and procedure (even "which shelves in the fridge are communal?"). And, rather than peppering your new friend with a question every hour, ask to take him or her out for coffee one afternoon and inquire.
Seriously, it’s that easy. Take every opportunity to strike up a conversation with anyone you’ve not yet met—and even folks you have. Ask about their roles and how their positions fit into the organization as a whole. This doesn’t just apply to higher-ups. Get to know peers, administrative assistants (you want them on your side), even the UPS delivery guy you run into on the elevator. Just talk.
Keep it professional, of course, but as you get to know fellow staffers, the conversation will shift to hobbies, families, and more. Having friends in the office is critical to your happiness and success, so start planting those seeds early and often. And remember that each of these people, just like you, will one day move on to another job, meaning your professional network will expand with zero effort on your part. (Great news for those who hate networking.)
3. ASK LOTS AND LOTS OF QUESTIONS.
In meetings, on conference calls, even in one-on-ones with your boss, never shy away from a question. For now, it’s A-OK to ask why the company does things a particular way, or what that acronym you’ve never heard of stands for. In a few weeks time, when people have been using that jargon on the regular, it’s too late.
4. WORK ON FORMING NEW HABITS.
Hate how your computer at your last job was blanketed in neon Post-Its? Or how you occasionally lost emails in an overflowing inbox? New job, new you! Work on developing new systems now so you don’t fall into the same rut. Designate a notebook (paper or digital) for note taking and to-do lists, or commit to "inbox zero" and don’t leave each evening until it’s empty. And be realistic: It takes an average of 66 days to truly develop a new habit.
5. REACH OUT TO OLD BOSSES AND COWORKERS.
It might seem counterintuitive, but now is actually the perfect time to reconnect with officemates from jobs in your past: You’ve got great news, and you aren’t asking for any favors. If a little time has passed since you left your most recent job, say hi to those you’d like to keep in touch with and be sure you’re connected on LinkedIn. Then look back even further, to jobs and internships you held before your most recent one. Shoot former colleagues and bosses a quick note to see how they’re doing, update them on your new position, and reinforce that you’d like to keep in touch.
6. KNOW THAT YOU MIGHT NOT BE OVER-THE-MOON—AND THAT’S OK.
It can take time—anywhere from a few weeks to a few months—to truly settle in and learn the ropes, especially if you’re pivoting into a different field or position. If you find yourself sitting at your desk thinking you’ve made a huge mistake, ride it out. Don’t make any impulsive decisions until you’ve really gotten the lay of the land.
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