8 Tried & Tested Tips For Surviving Week One Of A New Job

"My first week at my new job was super relaxing and easy, and I felt completely at ease right away!", said no one ever. Maybe there are some exceptions — yes, I'm enviously looking at you, self-assured, confident extroverts. But for a large majority of the population, starting a new job is both nauseatingly intimidating and overwhelming.
Depending on your level of experience with your new tasks, the ease of settling into the actual work side of things will vary. But it's almost universally scary and challenging to have to meet new people, adjust to a new culture, and make yourself feel truly at home in a new workplace.
This is especially true for women and gender-diverse people, as asserting yourself at work (especially if a lot of your new coworkers are men) can be much harder when the chances of being discriminated against in the workplace are stacked against you. So we've put together a list of some of our best tips to help you nail your first week at a new gig.

Treat yourself

This is an important pre-game strategy. If it's possible for you to take some time off between jobs or before starting your new one, do it! Even if you only have a few days or a weekend in between, make the best of every minute. This is the time to indulge in some self-care and simultaneously manifest some calm and confidence.
This could mean getting a fresh haircut, taking a yoga class or painting your nails a powerhouse shade of red. Bec, 23, highly recommends jumping into a body of water, like the beach or your local pool, the day before or even the morning of your first day. "Going for a swim is kind of like a baptism!" she says. "You just feel so refreshed afterwards, and ready to jump into the new gig headfirst."

Have some conversation starters on hand

So you've made it to your first day. Here comes the awkward part where you actually have to not just start working, but introduce yourself to a bunch of new people. You always have the classic fallbacks of asking your new colleagues "What do you do here?" and "How long have you been working here?", but to really start to get to know people, it might be a good idea to have some other conversation kindling on hand. You might want to think about choosing something topical and relevant that any of your new colleagues would be sure to want to chat about.
Don't forget that you can also utilise your work wardrobe to ignite conversations, because nothing says bonding like the proverbial "Oh my gosh, I love your outfit! Where did you get it?". Asha, 34, recalls that she forgot to change out of a band T-shirt for her very first team meeting, and it turned out to be a blessing. "People recognised the band on my shirt and right after the meeting, I got added to a work chat with all the other metal music lovers in the office! And that made everything so much better."

Make the space yours

If you have some space at the new job that's just yours, whether it's an office, a desk or a locker, try personalising it with a few items that make you feel comfortable. We're not saying you have to rock up on the first day with a box full of your personal items, but try to bring in one or two things to customise your area. Not only will it make you feel more at home, but you'll be able to look around you and get the sense that you belong there, even if it's only been a short while.

"Hey, can I sit with you?"

Your first week at a new job will probably be giving first week of school "Who am I going to sit with at lunch" vibes — but it'll almost always feel better once you've made the leap to hang out with new people on your lunch break. "Literally go and ask the person you sit next to if they want to show you their favourite spots to grab a bite," Bella, 26, says.
"Even if you usually like to bring your own food to save money, try to not do it for the first day or two, because grabbing lunch with someone you work with is an easy way to bond! In a lot of cultures, eating together is a really special and intimate activity, and it honestly makes a world of difference to the social culture when co-workers try to make an effort to eat together when they can."

Say yes!

As nerve-racking (and maybe even tiring) as it can be, try to say yes to any social opportunities that pop up when you first start. "Say yes to the drinks and after-work hangouts, no matter how nervous you get," Marli, 28, says. "I would always get super in my own head when people asked me to hang out after work when I was new, and I would think they were just being polite and that they didn't really want me there. But your new colleagues truly just want to get to know the people they're going to be spending time with every day, all week!"
Cindy, 26, had a similar experience with embracing office social life even before officially starting her new job. "The first get-together was a company-wide mid-year party, where I got to meet everyone when we could all really let loose and relax," she says. "The other was casual drinks and my boss's house! I felt so nervous accepting these invites but didn't regret it one bit — it makes a huge difference to how you feel that first week."
If that sounds like a bit too much for you and your social battery just can't handle it, try and set some realistic and stress-free social goals — this could mean trying to meet one or two new people each day or reaching out to introduce yourself to new people via chat or email first. Putting yourself out there is an inevitable and necessary part of a new job, but try and find a way to do it that isn't harmful to your sanity.

Suss out the work chats

Try and scope out the workplace language by reading back over past conversations on group chats, or get yourself as familiar as you can with how people speak to each other in your new workplace in general. "Be prepared for there to be some words and terms that you just won't understand straight away," Asha says. "You're entering into conversations that aren't quite yours yet and jokes that won't immediately be funny, and it's easy to feel excluded or like you're being unfriendly by not reacting to things the same way as your more well-seasoned colleagues."
"Try to just observe closely for a while and gather some context — maybe even ask someone who has been there a while to explain any super niche behaviours. You'll soon start to notice that interacting doesn't feel so forced and less intimidating. And you'll eventually find there's genuinely space for you to respond in a way that suits you, yet is on par with the workplace culture."

Join the clubs

As for more organised social activities, see if there are any clubs or groups established amongst your colleagues that match your personal interests, like film groups or book clubs. "This really helps you to connect with people outside your immediate team," Marli says of her own experience. "You get to talk about things you enjoy outside of work at work — it's a win-win! Doing this really helped me outside of my safe bubble and allowed me to meet other colleagues."

Make time for yourself

As much as this first week will be about making time and space for all these new people in your life, don't forget that this can be a very stressful and exhausting process, and you need to put yourself first. Mia, 25, made sure to set aside some alone time each day when she first started her job, to give herself space and time to reflect on things. She says, "When I first started, I would go to a cafe before work to just read or journal alone, as a way to ground myself before starting the day and prepare to socialise with so many new people."
For Josie, 30, making time for herself meant scheduling some self-care at the end of her first week in the form of a remedial massage. "I tend to hold a lot of nervous tension in my body, especially my hips and glutes, and can barely walk at the end of my first week at a new job," she says. "It's nice to have the massage to look forward to as a little treat for kicking ass at my new gig, and to start the next week refreshed and pain-free!"
However you choose to approach it, preparing a few things to make your first week at a new job easier and more fun can make a huge difference and get you off on the right foot with your colleagues. At the end of the day, as long as you're committed to being the best version of yourself and to making the best of all things work-related, your new workplace will undoubtedly be lucky to have you!
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