Your First Day at a New Job: What to Expect & How to Thrive

September 1, 2023

6 min read

Your First Day at a New Job - What to Expect & How to Thrive

You got the job! Now it’s time to get ready for the all-important Day 1. We’ll start by exploring some of the things you can expect on your first day of a new job. Then, we’ll look at some challenges you might run into and how to face them with confidence.

What to Expect on Your First Day at a New Job

Expect a lot of “new” on your first day. You’ll meet new people, a new organization, a new job, and a new space. Let’s take a quick look at each.

Meet the People

Your manager will likely give you a tour of the workspace and introduce you to your team. Take this opportunity to learn everyone’s names and roles. If you work for a large organization, don’t expect or try to meet everyone. Focus on the people you’ll be working with.

As you meet people, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm handshake. Repeat their name (for example, “Glad to meet you, Jenny”) as a show of warmth and to help you commit it to memory. However, don’t worry if you can’t remember every name. You’ll get to know people over time.

Meet the Organization

It’s likely that you’ll engage in an onboarding process that extends beyond your first day. You might be given a lot to read, such as employee handbooks, benefits information, and organizational policies. Take your time to read through this information carefully so that you understand your rights and responsibilities as an employee, and keep them somewhere for reference.

On your first day at a new job, you’ll also begin to get familiar with the organization’s culture. Pay attention to the way people dress, interact, and communicate. This will help you get a sense of the company’s values and expectations.

Meet the Job

Depending on your role, you might receive some training. Of course, that could take longer than one day. But, on your very first day of a new job, you probably will start learning how to use specific software or equipment. You also should begin to familiarize yourself with the systems that your job entails.

Meet the Space

With a new job, you have a new commute. Make sure you know where to go, how to get there, and where to park. Find out if you need a parking pass, and keep it in your car. It’s a good idea to do a trial run of the commute on your new schedule so you can prepare accordingly.

Early on, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood that your workplace is in. As we mentioned before, you probably will get a tour of the workspace on your first day at a new job.

Start Setting Up Your Workspace

Whatever your workspace—whether it’s a corner office or a locker, a cubicle or a vehicle—it’s a place you can make your own to some degree. On your first day, you’ll start to learn about the necessities, limitations, and restrictions of your workspace. Find out what the rules are, and then do what you can to make the space fit you—your specific needs and personality.

Do what you can to create a personal workspace that’s conducive to productivity. As far as possible, make sure you can focus and be comfortable. So, take note of what you need to have an ergonomic setup with minimal distractions.

Also, it’s a great idea to bring at least one item from home that will help make your workspace feel personal and comfortable. This is especially important early on when everything else is new. So, when you prepare for your first day, pick something to take with you—your favorite coffee mug, your “Precious Puppies” wall calendar, or your Star Trek mouse pad. The item can also serve as an icebreaker to help you make a connection with your new colleagues.

Learn more about creating your ideal workspace.

How to Overcome Challenges on the First Day at a New Job

So far, we’ve talked about how you’ll meet your colleagues, your organization, your job, and your workspace. Next, we’ll shift to how you’ll meet challenges on your first day of work and how to face them with confidence.


It’s typical for people to be nervous on their first day at a new job. That fact is the first way to tame your nerves: Remind yourself that everyone feels nervous on their first day. Also, throughout the day, take deep breaths, and relax. Finally, focus on the positive aspects of the job. Channel your nervousness toward excitement, joy, and gratitude that you have this opportunity.

Balancing “Not Enough” With “Too Much”

On your first day at a new job, you’re likely to face a funny juxtaposition of feelings: There’s a ton that you don’t know, and, at the same time, a ton of information is being thrown at you. A dry plain that hasn’t seen rain in months will quickly flood when a storm goes through; it’s impossible for the arid ground to soak up all the water at once. That’s what your first day might feel like.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed on your first day of a new job. You’ll be in a new environment, meeting new people, and learning new things. You’ll probably be bombarded with organizational policies, procedures, and expectations. It’s impossible to take it all in at once, so don’t even try. Tell yourself that this information doesn’t all belong to Day 1. You’ll have time beyond your first day to absorb it.

So, pace yourself. Focus on one thing at a time, and ask for help when you need it. Take advantage of break time to breathe and remember the big picture, the long view, and the positive aspects of this opportunity.

Balancing a Good First Impression With Being Yourself

On your first day at a new job, you’re likely to face another funny juxtaposition: You’ll feel pressure to make a good impression, but you also need to be yourself. Let’s explore how to balance those feelings.

To make a good impression on your first day at a new job, arrive promptly and dress appropriately for that particular workplace and your particular job. Check out our in-depth exploration of making a good first impression at work.

While you should make an effort, you still need to be yourself. Don’t be someone different on Day 1—only for people to meet the real you later. It’s important to be genuine and authentic from the start. People can tell when you’re being fake, so just relax and be yourself.

So, to balance the need to be yourself while making a good impression, put your best foot forward—not someone else’s foot, your best foot.

Fitting In

Expect to feel like an outsider on your first day at a new job. Before you walk in the door, you are one. It will take some time for you to make connections and feel like you’re part of the organization and the team. So, adjust your expectations accordingly and do your part to foster relationships. If you’re truly a good fit for the organization and the position, in time you’ll feel more and more like you belong.

Wrapping Up

You should have noticed a theme in this article: It takes time to adjust to a new job. On your first day, you won’t complete anything but your first day. These tips don’t talk about finishing anything; they talk about starting things. Your first day at a new job is the first step in a marathon.

So, don’t expect or try to run the whole race on Day 1. Get your expectations in line with reality, cut yourself some slack, and turn your nerves into joy and gratitude. You have a wonderful opportunity. Now it’s time to take the exciting first step in that new direction.

Note: This post was created in partnership with artificial intelligence.


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