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An Insider's Guide to Tackling Your First Week at a New Job

Written by Riley Stefano | Aug 17, 2017 2:00:00 PM

I'm the newest member of the culture team here at HubSpot. (Yes, we have a team committed solely to making sure our employees love coming into work every day.) Not only am I new to the company, but I’m pretty new to the “real world”, too, having graduated college last May. So not surprisingly, I was nervous (to say the least) for my first day on the job. I triple set my alarms, I had my outfit all picked out, and I had my lunch packed and ready. But even after prepping, those butterflies were fluttering like crazy the entire morning as I got ready for this new journey.

I kept reminding myself that butterflies in my stomach were completely normal. They’re probably the same butterflies you experienced on your first day of a new school year, or heading to college and leaving home for the first time. And if you think about it like this, starting a new job probably isn't your first "first day" rodeo. Think about all those milestones you’ve already prepped yourself for; how did you do it? Did you have a routine you went through in the morning? Was there a lucky pen you had to make sure you packed? Here’s a little secret: this is just another one of those first days. You’ve been here before, and if you’re reading this, then you probably came out on the other side and survived it. Remember that the butterflies are on your side -- they should motivate you and remind you that you are the one who made it to this first day. You rocked your interviews, you stood out from the sea of candidates, and you got a seat on this rocket ship.

Spoiler alert: Not only did I survive my first week at HubSpot, but I loved it. Thanks to our Learning & Development team here who runs new hire training and programming, I learned a ton, met amazing people, and jumped into the real world excited for what's ahead. One "a-ha moment" for me was that whether your company has formal orientation for new employees or more laid-back onboarding, it's still up to you to take advantage of every opportunity from the get-go. So, without further ado, here’s some advice for how you, too, can pass your first week at a new job with flying colors.

Do Your Homework (Even After You’re Hired)

I’m sure you’ve already done tons of research on your new company. You probably did all your homework to get ready for your interview, making sure you were a wiz at all things related to your new job, knowing the market and the people you’d be meeting and the content you’d be talking about. But, you have a bit more homework left to do. During the weeks and days before your start date, make sure you’re keeping up with your research. Maybe not much within your company is changing, but I bet your industry is shifting and moving everyday as new light bulb moments happen around the world. Keep up with that ever-changing knowledge so when it does come time for your first day, you’ll know exactly what is going on in your industry, and you’ll be in the habit of doing just a little bit of research everyday.

Find Your Pump Up Routine

The first day is always the toughest. You don’t know what to expect, and the unknown makes a lot of people nervous. But there are many ways to ease the anxious edge of those nerves and have a great first day. One of my favorites is getting pumped up from the second I wake up. Is there a Spotify playlist that really gets you going? Do you have a mantra you tell yourself in the mirror? Is there a 20 minute HIIT routine that gets your blood flowing? Whatever it is that gets you excited and puts a smile on your face, do it. Do something to give yourself that confidence boost, because confidence plays a major part in success. Confidence helps take the edge off the worst of those nerves, dulling them from an anxious buzz to an excited hum.

Speak Up and Share Your Thoughts

During the first week, you’ll probably have a day or even a few weeks of new hire onboarding. (No, most companies won't throw you to the wolves!) Here is your first opportunity to shine, and they’re handing it to you on a silver platter. No one expects you to know all of the answers, so why not give it a stab and answer the questions that the trainer asks during a session? Is there an idea or example you could share to add to a topic or discussion? You were hired because you bring a perspective and voice to the table. Don't worry about saying the wrong thing; if you think there is value to be added by speaking up, do it. At the very worst, you'll encourage other new employees to get comfortable doing the same.

Take Notes… Lots of Notes

HubSpot’s new hire training is a little different for every employee depending on what role you’re going into. Some HubSpotters tackle a month-long project, most take an Inbound-driven new hire test, and everyone comes to day one for benefits training, 401k info, and all that jazz that you’ll definitely want to pay attention to. In other words, you’re going to learn a lot during week one. Write it all down, or type it out. You’d be surprised what info will come back to the surface during your first few weeks. Plus, studies show that taking notes helps the brain remember things more easily. And, you’ll need those notes as a refresher when you get to day 100 of your new job, and you’re asked about one of those training pieces you learned way back in your first week.

Get Involved From Day One

Don’t let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) creep in during your second week because you didn’t go to that pasta-making team outing on the second night of your new job. Go make the pasta. Getting involved right away gives you the opportunity to meet new people and to throw yourself into the culture. One particular piece of advice stood out to me from the AdviceSpot video on the HubSpot New Hire landing page, and it was a tidbit from our Chief People Officer, Katie Burke:

“One thing that happens when you’re a new hire is that you tend to think of yourselves in the movie theater, in the audience eating popcorn, or watching the show unfold. I want folks who sign up early to try new things, to actually mix things up a little bit.”

I took this nugget of wisdom to heart. Within my first two weeks, I've participated in and signed up for HubSpot Master Classes, Women at HubSpot events, and this month’s Science Fair. I knew I’d be more disappointed if I didn’t go then if I went and totally embarrassed myself (which, I didn’t). So I challenge you to go beyond your comfort zone and get involved in social and learning opportunities from the beginning.

Be Positive, It's Contagious

Smile. People are drawn to friendly people; we want to be around those who have infectious positivity. I like to think I’m one of those people -- I try to always have an optimistic outlook on whatever project or task is thrown my way. Even on the days that are a little more difficult, try to find the silver lining. My mom is a powerhouse of a director at her company and her favorite thing to tell me when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed is, “If you put good energy out to the universe, the universe will reward you.” So send out those positive vibes while you work hard that first week and watch it come back around over time.

Don't Forget Who Got the Job

You did. Don't let yourself fall prey to imposter syndrome in your first few weeks on the job. A little paranoia is healthy; it means you care about making an impact and genuinely want to do well in this new role and company. But don't let those nerves get in the way of what you (and the team who hired you) know you're capable of.

No matter how strong your resume or CV is, you'll have a lot to learn as you get ramped up in a new job. That's normal. The key is to be confident in what you know and in what you don't know. You got hired for a reason, no one else. Don't forget that when those first day butterflies start to flutter.