How to Survive the First Week of Your "Big Kid" Job

You’ve just graduated college and you’re getting excited about your first “big kid” job. Although you’re super pumped about your new endeavor, you’re also probably nervous about what to expect for your first week on the job.

Learning the ropes of your new job can be overwhelming, and the first week will definitely feel like a crash course. You’ll likely to be thrown into tasks and projects head first and be expected to take initiative to accomplish them on your own. Although you’ll have coworkers to guide you, you’ll have to be resourceful.

When you begin your first job, there will be a lot of pressure to impress your coworkers and management. Because of this, you’ll want to go above and beyond in order to make an excellent first impression. Although this feeling is completely normal, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with your first week of work.

If you’re hoping to make the most of your first week of work, here are some tips for settling into your first job.

Don’t overestimate your abilities.

Whether you’ve had five internships or no internship experience at all, don’t overestimate what you can do for your new employer. Every job comes with new responsibilities and tasks, so you can’t always be sure what to expect.

For example, if your boss asks you to complete a project with a program you’ve never used before, make this known to your manager. Although you’ll still be expected to complete the project, your boss can provide you with some resources to help you get started. This way, you’ll prevent yourself from drowning in an assignment you have no idea how to start.

Be approachable.

During your first week, you might feel awkward as you try to fit in with the people in your office. Most of your coworkers have known each other for some time, have inside jokes, and shared experiences together. However, you can’t allow these factors prevent you from meeting your coworkers or feeling shy at work.

The best way to become approachable is to have positive body language and to be friendly. Your first day is a great opportunity to establish relationships with your coworkers, so don’t miss out on the opportunities to make connections. In addition, you don’t wait for someone to ask you to join them for coffee and lunch. Introduce yourself to your new coworkers and take initiative to make plans and build relationships.

Say “yes” with caution.

As the newbie in your office, you’re going to be asked to do a variety of projects, tasks, and favors for your coworkers and boss. Additionally, you’ll be presented with cool opportunities you won’t want to turn down. When this happens, you’re going to feel pressured to say “yes” to every situation that comes your way in hopes of making a good first impression. However, it’s important not to become fooled by these expectations.

It’s important to say “yes” with caution because you don’t want to get in over your head with commitments during your first week (or ever). Just because you think you’re capable of doing it all, doesn’t mean you can. Before agreeing to taking on a new project by yourself, be sure to ask questions and gain all the information you need about the project. The last thing you need is to be stuck with an assignment that leaves you drowning in stress.

Avoid office gossip.

When you start your first job, you want to avoid involving yourself in office gossip. Regardless of how interesting the conversations may seem, don’t put yourself into a situation where it could harm your career.

For example, if you overhear your coworkers talk about how lazy another coworker is, it’s a good idea to just stay away from the conversation. You don’t want to damage a relationship with anyone in the office because of something you heard from someone else. Your coworkers may try to bring you into the conversations, and when this happens, remain polite and don’t add negative comments to the conversations.

Remember, you won’t be a newbie forever.

Although your first few weeks on the job may require you to perform tasks you didn’t sign up for, keep in mind this won’t last forever. However, if it’s been nearly six months and you’re still running copies for all your coworkers, you might want to speak up to your manager. It’s up to you to make sure you have control over your new job and where it takes you in your career.

As you continue to prepare for your first week of work, don’t forget to enjoy the experience. This is your first opportunity to launch your career as a professional, so make the most of every experience that comes your way!

What tips do you have for surviving the first week of a new job?

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Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended.

Reader Interactions


  1. Rich Grant says

    Thank you Heather. Our students just graduated on Sunday so the timing is perfect to share this! In my experience, your tip to “be approachable” is one of the most important. Building relationships will yield long-term benefits.


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