How to be the New Kid (at Work)

How to be the New Kid (at Work)

By Kate Gasparrini

So, you stood out in the resume screening, powered through the phone interview, charmed everyone in your in-person interview, provided flawless references, and then finally, got the call: you landed your dream job.  Congrats!

Starting a new job is like being the new kid at school. Everyone else in your class has already figured out where the pencils go, how to line up for recess, and who will swap a string cheese for a fruit roll-up. But you just got here and you don’t know which folder your homework goes in! Was it the blue one or the yellow one? And when’s lunch?

Here are 7 tips on how to make the most of your first week at work.

  1. Look (so you can feel) your best. Remember the excitement you got from picking out your outfit for the first day of school? Bring that for your whole first week. When you’re dressed in an outfit you love, everyone else will sense your confidence. Ask about the dress code before you start, and take mental notes during your interview. What are the people with similar positions as you wearing? Heels or flats? Blazers? Jeans? You’ll want to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing everyday, but especially during your first week.
  2. Expect to be confused about 85% of the time. A new email system, lingo (e.g. “we don’t use the words ‘mission statement’ here”), and ways of doing things you have done differently for years can make you feel like you just stepped off of a UFO onto another planet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Accept the confusion, and don’t get down on yourself for not knowing things you aren’t supposed to know.
  3. To bring a lunch or not to bring a lunch? That is the question. The answer? Bring a lunch that can sit in your desk for a night. You might overhear a few coworkers going to grab lunch, and they might even ask you to join. You wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to get to know some potential new buds. If that doesn’t happen, then you have your lunch stashed and ready to be eaten. Which brings me to…
  4. Embrace the lunchroom. Even for the most extroverted of gals, a lunchroom full of strangers who are already friends with each other is not the most comforting environment. It can feel like having to take the bus alone because your best friend stayed home sick. Just take a deep breath, smile, and say, “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m Kate. I just started, and I’m doing XYZ. Do you mind if I sit with you?” You’ve got this.
  5. Share something sweet. Nothing will get everyone thinking “that new girl is fabulous” like when you bring in something homemade and leave it in a common area. Store-bought goodies are always appreciated too. Be sure to leave a note so that they know it was you.
  6. Have patience. Maybe you had a ton of friends at your last job, or maybe this is your first “real” job post-college or grad school. Getting used to so many things at once takes time. Sit back and listen as much as you can so that you can learn the ropes of your new gig. Is there anyone else who is new or slightly new? Maybe you could ask her if she wants to grab coffee with you, and you can bond over the newbie experience together.
  7. Remember that everyone else was new once too. Each day gets easier as you learn more coworkers’ names, become skilled at using (and breaking) the copier, and discover where the best cafes are for lunch. If you stick around long enough, maybe you’ll figure out which one of your new colleagues will swap her chocolate drizzled granola bar for your pomegranate Greek yogurt.

About Kate:

Kate recently started a new job in New York City, where she loves helping teens create social change, but is still getting lost during her commute. Follow her adventures through her blog Not Intent on Arriving.


4 responses to “How to be the New Kid (at Work)

  1. I love this article so much! Every single piece of advice is fantastic (and true). I recently started a new job and I absolutely felt like the new kid in school. But it got easier, and I wouldn’t trade my new workplace for anything. Thank you so much for sharing, Kate. 🙂


  2. It’s so funny how being the new kid instantly brings back all those memories of school. Thanks for making this so relatable, and for all the great tips!


  3. So true-i started my new job this week so i can relate! I love all these tips, especially bring a lunch. I’m going to add “embrace office culture”-they were doing a March Madness bracket at my work, and I’m somehow in first place. It’s been a really good ice breaker!


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