Saturday, April 20, 2024

COACHING LIFE: Preparing for your first day at work

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It’s summertime and many graduates are taking summer jobs for the first time or beginning their professional careers as interns or permanent staffers.
This can be a nerve-wracking time for many. Well, there is no need to be stressed about it if you know what to do. Of course you don’t want to go the other extreme and be too casual in your preparation either. So here are some tips from my “launch your career toolkit”.
Get a good night’s sleep. I know you can handle late nights partying and still bounce back because you are young and fit but with an important appointment, like your first day at work, go to bed early and rise early. You don’t want to turn up for work with “sleep in your face” – your boss will not find you cute.
There is always a dress code. You can do at least three things to be sure you are dressed appropriately for work. 
(1) Reflect on how your interviewer was dressed and keep your attire in that general style.
(2) Watch a video on YouTube about how to dress for your first day and do keep it up for the rest of your career.
(3) Avoid anything that will be just perfect for the nightclub. Guys: wear your pants belted at the waist. Ladies: limit the cleavage.
Be punctual. This should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, employers are intolerant of Bajan time, so do arrive at least 15 minutes early to settle yourself, especially if you have to take the bus. If you are driving to work, take a test drive and see how long it takes to get there, then double the time. Traffic is no excuse for tardiness even though many of us accept it as such.
Mindful communication. You have obviously made a good first impression, or you would not have been hired. But you are now meeting the rest of the staff for the first time, so pay attention to these three Ps.
Be polite. As you are introduced to your colleagues, speak in a light and friendly tone. Speak to everyone even if your chaperone is rushing you through. Avoid small talk and humour because people are not yet tuned in to your personality.  You could rub people the wrong way.  Wait until you have developed rapport.
Be pleasant. Do smile when you are being introduced to people. No grinning – it makes you look immature.
Watch your posture. Oh! This is a big one. Throw those shoulders back. Try not to slouch. Your gait should exude positivity, confidence and enthusiasm. Your body is your largest communication device. Sit erect, especially when speaking with your supervisor, and avoid ungainly gaits when you walk.
Ask to be oriented. Meet-and-greet is part of your orientation, as is being told where bathrooms and lunchrooms are and where you will be sitting. It may include the caution that no smoking is allowed. But there is more to it than that.  
Beyond the general overview of your role, ask your supervisor to direct you to additional company documentation and industry literature so you get some appreciation for your job and its place in the bigger picture. Ask whether in the coming weeks s/he would be willing to introduce you to other department heads so you can find out more about the organization or initiate these conversations with peers over lunch.
Thank human resources. A really nice gesture is to thank the HR manager who conducted the interview. Prepare a short handwritten note inside a thank-you card. Thank him or her for the opportunity to work with the company and reiterate your intention to be an asset to the business. Five lines should be enough. It is not a sales pitch; you already have the job.
Self assessment. From Day 1 it is important to determine what your strengths and limitations are, and start observing candidates for the role of your personal and professional career advisor. They can be used as your mirror as you navigate your career.
Good luck, and keep it positive.

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