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First day in a new job — 3 things I learned the hard way

Sep 15, 2018 · 3 min read
A Lego Superman proudly standing on a rock

This article is the second part of a series of 5 articles about joining a startup as the first QA. You can read the previous part about how to prepare for a leadership role.

Do you know this feeling when you arrive at work for the first time and everything is so new? When your brain stretches every sense, desperately trying to get it all at once?

It’s saying: “Remember meetings schedule. Remember what you said during the recruitment process. Remember how to set up the computer. Remember people’s names. Remember to smile. Remember to remember. Remember…” — you know what I mean.

To be honest, I have experienced it every single time. That’s why I wrote this article. It’s one of the ‘I wish I knew’ messages. And I want you to learn it, too.

So here, on the first day, I have three simple takeaways for you (and for myself):

1. Take it easy

I know what you think — it’s easier said than done. And you’re totally right, because on the first day you may want to do everything.

But hold your horses.

Don’t be tempted to jump into the deep water straight away, no matter what pressure you may feel. The truth is, no one expects anything from you on the first day — maybe apart from getting to know your name.

Speaking of your name, it’s important that you’re noticed from day one. Introduce yourself to the team, either by doing it yourself or asking your manager — both will work. If you did your homework, connecting each person’s name and position should be instant.

Same goes to your behaviour — take it easy. Don’t stress about how you’re going to be received. Although it’s important to make a good first impression, you shouldn’t try too hard. It’s not a one-off sales pitch you’re doing here — you are now part of the company.

And yes — there’s always this social barrier when people are getting used to each other. But sooner or later everyone will recognise your best qualities.

So relax and take it easy.

2. Take notes

There’s no denying that on the first day you will get a lot of information. Since your brain just can’t take it all, taking notes is a way to go.

Not a writer? Not a problem.

Write down just the keywords — whatever your ear finds more interesting. It will create a shortcut in your mind and help you refer to it later on. If you happen not to recall what it was about — ask again. Even if it’s days or weeks later.

And when you ask — ask for a diagram. For a draw. For a graphical explanation. Visual interpretation is ten times better than a plain word. It helps your brain to digest information much easier.

And don’t worry — no one expects you to get it all in a second.

3. Take time

Joining a new company is a big thing — especially as the first one in a role. Sometimes that role may be so wide that it gets blurry what the responsibilities are.

But don’t get trapped.

It’s easy to get lost among all the things waiting to be picked up. Don’t get me wrong, but on this particular day, you should do none of them. Even if you’re already assigned a task.

What I’m saying is: you should not work.

Sounds radical? Well, it’s tempting to start saving everything and having impact from day one — like a superhero. It nearly feels like an expectation on your shoulders — a mighty robe.

But, well, no.

If you’re really a hero, you’ll be saving every day — wearing jumper and geek glasses. You can’t save everyone in a day.

Heroism takes time. And so should you.

Remember what your brain was telling you? Forget it.

There is only one ‘remember’: On the first day, save yourself.

If you look for more inspirations on first day in a leadership role, I recommend you to check out this article by James Stanier. I also found this infographic helpful.

Interested in getting to know more? In the third part of the series, I wrote about how to get through the first week as QA Lead.

Author's profile picture

Dawid Dylowicz

Founder of More Than Testing