Starting a new job can be as stressful as it is exciting. It means a new environment, people, and expectations. Don't worry. We've got you covered. Below are five steps we've come up with to help you out:
1. Be prepared - do your research & pack smart
This first step might seem simple, but it's amazing what our minds can forget to do when we worry! Start by making a checklist of all the things you need to bring with you to work, such as necessary safety wear: a high-visibility jacket or vest, hard hat, gloves, boots, coveralls, etc. Safety is a priority and comes first.
Other ideas of what to bring: lunch, water, sunscreen, clothing layers (if cold), any documents necessary for site access, tools, eye and/or hearing protection, an extra pair of socks, some comfy shoes you can switch into at the end of the day after leaving the site.
2. Arrive early
Make sure you know what route you need to take to get to the site on time. Take into consideration any bus or train schedules and traffic expectations. Aim to arrive 10 to 20 minutes early. If you get there extra early, you can see if anyone is at the office or can help answer site-specific questions you may have.
3. Ask questions
Before you arrive on your first day your company should have given you a site-specific orientation. The orientation will have given you an overview of the project, standard procedures, safety protocols and expected tasks. When you arrive, you should get a second quick orientation walking you through the site. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Who should you report to for any safety hazards you might encounter? Who can you can approach for questions during the day? Do they have any security or equipment protocols to remember? Where are the bathrooms? When is lunch time usually? Does anyone have any allergies to be aware of? Any advice?
Asking the first question is always difficult, but set the precedent for yourself. It can also offer a great way to get to know your colleagues and show interest in the work.
4. Observe others and socialize
You are likely going to meet a number of new people on your first day. No one expects you to remember everyone's names right away, but try your best to at least remember the important ones (e.g. the foreman/foreperson). In most work environments, learning from others is key. Pay attention to any advice given by coworkers.
5. Remember to relax
It's good to focus on your work, and we all want to make a good first impression, but don't overstrain yourself. It's a horrible feeling to be anxious. The silver lining? You've stepped outside your comfort zone. It doesn't feel great but take a few deep breaths, remind yourself why you want to do this work and give yourself some words of encouragement. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy - but reversely we can be our best ally. If you don't support yourself, who will?
A last piece of advice: if you end up making a mistake on your first day, don't freak out. Most employers understand that mistakes can happen. Allow yourself to feel upset - it's understandable, we're only human! - but just for a few moments. Take some time to collect yourself and try to keep things in perspective. Withstanding a few exceptions, most mistakes can be corrected or resolved. Perhaps you arrived late or forgot someone's name. The main point is that you are safe and ok. If you need to apologize, do it quickly and with sincerity. Acknowledge the error, don't list excuses, and learn from your mistake.
New jobs are nerve-wracking, but we hope the five tips above will help give you some ideas on how to prepare and succeed.
And remember: we all start somewhere.