Career

How To Survive Your First Week At A New Job

Being the new kid in the office is an intense experience. Whether your first week at a new job is your first full time gig, ever, or you’ve already been in your industry for a few years, that first week in a totally new environment is going to feel overwhelming.

When you start a new job, not only do you have to get the hang of the work you’ve actually been hired to do, you’ve also got to come to grips with everyday things like the politics of unpacking the dishwasher in the staff kitchen and the best places to grab coffee.

You’ll be overloaded with information in those initial days, and although you might feel pressure to be perfect straight away, you’ve got to take it easy on yourself. Here are a few tips on how to make it through to the weekend without completely frying your brain.

If at first you don’t succeed, ask, ask again

This is the truth that will set you free: no one expects you to know or remember everything immediately. In that first week at a new job – with all its training sessions and endless introductions to people whose names you will immediately forget – take in what you can. But keep in mind there’s no way you can stay on top of it all.

If there’s something you’re not quite sure about or you just don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you have to ask about the same thing more than once, don’t stress. You’re human. It might feel embarrassing to admit that you’re not all-knowing, but asking questions ­will show that you’re keen to learn, and this will probably score you brownie points with your team too.

No friends? No worries

We all love a good workplace sitcom, but if there’s one thing they have to answer for, it’s creating the expectation that we’ll end up being instant best mates (or entertaining frenemies) with our colleagues. The office can be a great place to meet friends, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t end the week with an invitation to Friday night drinks. It sounds cheesy, but friendships need time, and they’ll be much easier to establish when you’re feeling more at home.

The office can be a great place to meet friendsbut don’t beat yourself up if you don’t end the week with an invitation to Friday night drinks.

It takes most people around 2-3 months to feel like they can be their authentic selves at work, so don’t think you’re a failure if your first week at a new job comes and goes without any breakthroughs on the friendship front. Be friendly and let things unfold. You might spend your first few lunch breaks solo, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be alone forever.

Nail your paperwork

Amid the whirlwind of everything else you have to deal with in your first week, one thing you can’t let fall by the wayside is your new starter paperwork. Make things easier for yourself by coming in on your first day armed with your tax file number, your bank account details, emergency contact numbers and your chosen superannuation fund’s info, if you’ve decided not to go with your employer’s nominated fund.

At a minimum, you’ll be asked to sign your employment contract, your superannuation choice form and your tax file declaration form, but your company may also have other policies or agreements too. Have a good read of everything before you sign it. The sooner you’re all set up on payroll, the sooner your first payday will be.

Start saving

Speaking of payday, why not use your fresh start at work as an opportunity to make a fresh start with your finances too? Consider automating your bank accounts so that a portion of your wage goes straight into a high interest savings account on payday. If you’ve got certain goals for those hard-earned dollars, setting up a savings account will help you track your progress. Plus, each month your balance grows, you’ll earn extra interest. Free money!

And if you’re feeling really sensible, think about organising to make additional contributions to your super on top of the percentage being paid by your employer. Sure, retirement might seem an impossibly long time away now, but in a few decades, you’ll be thanking your younger self for being such a savvy genius.

Look after yourself

It’s natural to want to impress your new employer, but don’t feel like you have to chain yourself to your desk to show your commitment. No one will think you’re a hero for working through your lunch break. Take the time to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and enjoy some fresh air. It will do wonders for your busy brain. And don’t work late just for the sake of it either. Do yourself a kindness and leave on time, so that you can unwind properly. You won’t regret it. Besides, you’ll be back tomorrow.


Amanda Diaz is a writer and the co-creator of The Regal Fox, a website showcasing stories from around the world. She posts pictures of books and animals at @Manda_Diaz