In your first day in the company you will be introduced to a lot of people, whose names you will not be able to remember 10 minutes later, but will learn in time. Then, you will be sitting in your department, everybody minding their own business. Since you do not know anything, most probably you will not be able to touch the systems and the only thing that is left for you to sit down and keep quiet. Aren’t there anything you can do?
Since it is your first day, do not expect to be given domain administrator or root credentials no matter how fancy your certificates are. Even if you are somebody like Linus Torvalds, Bill Gates or Richard Stallman, you do not know any single thing about the infrastructure. Until you learn how things work, you will be doing some smaller things. Now, it is the best time to understand the office, especially the key people whom you will need in your day-to-day activities, especially for the activities beyond your manager’s responsibility. For example, knowing the people who supports printers and knowing how to open a support ticket is one of things to learn. Not only you get to know people but also you show you try to solve problems. There is also the person who knows what everybody does, this is an important person to know because you will need to know soon “with whom can I speak about.”
Next, organize your desk. No matter how much travelling is involved, you will find yourself sitting at your desk. Order supplies, stationery, pens, paper, pen holders, books etc. and then check your telephone numbers, extension, direct number, voicemail. If a computer is arranged for you, ask people about the standard and any specialized programs they are using. If anything is not in place, open a ticket to fix it. If everything is OK, setup your keyboard, mouse, monitor and make sure that you are connected. These may seem trivial but it will be a burden to correct your voicemail when you need to get things done.
Then, if you are not on LinkedIn, set up a profile and enter your information. The information about yourself, the company, your title and your role. Start connecting with your friends first. Then you can go on with your colleagues. LinkedIn is where you present yourself professionally, therefore be careful with what you post there.
Now you are a little comfortable with your personal matters, move on to the office etiquette or the unwritten rules. These are what people do everyday or every occasion but don’t talk about. For example, what do you do when the coffee and tea is run out, how to book the meeting rooms, who puts the paper to the printer, how do you use the fridge – is it available for the employees or reserved for common things -, who is responsible for the kitchen, what do you do with the visitors – where to have them seated, how to order tea, coffee, soft drinks, how to have breakfast and lunch (I advise not at your desk despite you may observe many people doing the opposite), smoking (it is important to know although you may not smoke), mobile phone use, Internet use etc.. One of the unwritten rules of all the offices is that you are expected to introduce yourself. To get an even warmer welcome, everyday be sure to say “good morning”, “good evening“ and “hi” to people you see. Looks nonsense to say that? You will be surprised how many people don’t show this basic courtesy.
Set up a to-do list. The simplest thing to get things done is to keep a to-do list. It has more benefits that you can think of: you keep a list of things you need to do, it is a history of what you have done, you can relate your to-dos to your projects and speak about them when you are preparing for your performance review. There are a million of to-do applications, both installed, online and mobile apps plus the regular pen and paper (personally I use a company-given agenda plus Microsoft Outlook, synced with my online agenda if you ask). Don’t skip on this thinking that you will be able to remember everything. You will not.
Not specific to IT, learn your neighborhood. Around every office building, there are some cafeterias, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries and similar shops. In your first week, it is a good idea to know what is around you. Having a small walk after the lunch is a perfect way to discover around (and your health). You can have a look at Google Maps to find more services. This will help you when you need that information plus you can help people when they are looking for places.
Finally, spend your free time reading internal documentation. Brochures, magazines, e-mails, books, memos, whatever you find that the company publishes, read it. It will give you an idea about events, promotions, training and make you more informed about the company. No need to say, never skip anything that directly relates to your role.
Hopefully these will help you survive your first week(s) on your job. Hit the comments for your tips!
Image credit: onserve.ca