Not everyone is lucky to land their dream job immediately. Just with any fairytale, you often have to kiss a bunch of frogs before you find your prince. But knowing the dos and don’ts of working in a team is important.
Regardless of your qualifications, you start off your first job as a noob. It doesn’t matter if you have your Honors or your Masters, if you haven’t worked for this particular company before, you know nothing, Jon Snow.
Every firm has its own way of doing things and they can be really sticky about their internal procedures. There may be forms to fill out every time you need a new pen, but you won’t know this until you actually need a pen.
The trick is not to show up on your first day and act like a know-it-all because you spent some time at University and you have apiece of paper on your wall saying you know how to do stuff.
That degree only gets you in the door. Learning to use what you studied for comes with actually working in a company and picking up tips and tricks from experienced coworkers who may not have the paperwork you do.
Don’t look down on colleagues who may not be as academically skilled as you. Every person has something to teach you about your new job, even the cleaning staff can make your life easy or hard, depending on your attitude.
Ask questions but not just to sound like you’re interested. Be a sponge and absorb information. People who take initiative and look for the answer themselves are deemed way better employees than those who need babysitting.
If you’re super-lucky, you will have been assigned an experienced mentor whose brain you can pick about arbitrary things, like where the lunchroom is, who makes the best hot meals in the area, and where to get coffee from.
If not, you’ll have to watch carefully and learn on your toes. Keep an eye on where other people go to get a stapler or a pencil – there should be a stationery cupboard somewhere in your office.
At lunchtime, casually follow a couple of people to see which direction they go. You may have been advised about a company canteen during your interview, if so, look to see where the crowds are headed.
Some canteens work on a special card system that you need to pay for and load with your lunch money, so it’s prudent to see what everyone else is paying with before you go to the till and hold up the line.
Expect to learn something new every day. Keep a journal and monitor your progress; you’d be surprised how far you will come in a month. Ask your mentor or direct line manager for an assessment if you’re not sure.
Relax. We were all noobs once. Your novelty will pass the second the next intern walks in. When all else fails, remember you will never make a mistake big enough to be seen from a satellite like the Ever Given. You’ve got this.