A new job is a fresh start for many people. Whether you’re moving to a new state, starting at a new company or landing your first job after college, it’s an exciting time.
For me, I landed my first job out of college at a boutique PR firm in Boulder, CO. Like many people, I had been dreaming about this day for a long time and the hard part was finally over, I got a job!
The prospect of starting a new job was both exciting and terrifying to me and my start date loomed over me from the moment I accepted the position. The first day of a new job can be scary, especially when you’re a worrier (like me). You’re going to have to meet new people, take a lot of notes and absorb as much as you possibly can from the minute you step in the door.
I tried to prep for my first day, but there were so many things I wish I would have taken into consideration. So many things, in fact, that I’ve come up with a shortlist of the most important tips I wish I would have put to use before I started my job.
Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success before you even start the job:
Read, read, and then read some more: Researching beforehand can make a huge difference. Most people research a company before their interview and then stop until they start working. I made the same mistake, but I wish I had stayed on top of research.
Especially in an industry like PR, it’s critical to be familiar with the trends of the industry you’re going to be working in. For me, Catapult deals specifically in the B2B tech industry, which is something new to me. If you research the company, clients and industry, it’ll give you a head start before you even walk in the door.
My first week was full of sitting in on client calls, meetings and how-tos. In the midst of trying to figure out what I needed to be doing, I was scribbling down jargon and vocabulary I could’ve been familiar with beforehand if I did a bit more research.
Not only will research familiarize you with the industry, it’ll get you familiar with the media outlets and news coverage you’ll be reading in the future. If you seek out the right reading materials before you start, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Stay up to date on social media: Although I’m a journalism enthusiast, I think it’s beneficial to stay up to date on any industry news that you’re working in.
Researching a company’s clients or industry can be a tedious task with a lot of information, but one of the quickest ways that I learned about a client or the industry was to browse social media.
Twitter is a great way to learn about a company and their voice; depending on the industry, Facebook and Instagram are great ways too. People have to be as direct as possible on sites that only allow for 280 characters. Plus they’re often retweeting or replying to news related to them and the industry.
While you don’t have to follow industry sources and companies, I recommend it. Not only will it help you stay up to date on industry news, but it’ll become part of your daily routine to keep up to date on news topics.
Stay organized: While my first few days were filled with a lot of information, I felt overwhelmed in the chaos. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the notes and emails I was accumulating. I should have stayed organized from the get-go because when I finally got around to the 96 emails and Google alerts I needed to go through, I felt the task was insurmountable.
But once I got my desk, notes and emails squared away, I felt like I could handle tasks and information as it was coming at me. If I had stayed organized from the beginning, I would’ve been better off.
I would recommend staying organized by tackling the easiest tasks first. For example, respond to all the calendar invites you may receive right away or as they come in. Then you can see your week at a glance and get rid of a big chunk of emails. Then you can move onto the bigger tasks, like reading through your Google alerts, chain emails, etc. without the little tasks hanging over your head.
Taking notes will also help you stay organized, because you can prioritize tasks.
Bring a notebook: Why doesn’t everyone tell us to bring a notebook on the first day of anything? Because we really should. Especially at the first day of a PR, journalism or writing related job.
You can write down questions to ask later or words that you want to research when time permits. They may give you a notebook when you arrive, but you’ll look and feel more prepared if you come armed with your own pen and paper.
I know that regardless of preparation, your first day can still be nerve-racking. If it’s your first job, keep in mind that your first day doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll learn, grow and evolve into a valuable member of the team. As a wise man (my dad) once told me, “It’s not always about where you start, it’s about where you end up!”