A Placement Student’s Guide To Preparing For Your First Day

All of your hard work has paid off: you’ve managed to secure that dream placement or internship and now it’s time to start your new job. Anxious? It’s normal. It’s a big step to take in your career. 

If you’ve never worked in an office environment before or you’re going into a role or industry you have little experience in, then it's alright to be a little apprehensive. To help you out, here are some first day tips from our own placement student, Josh...

1) First impressions count

You’ve probably heard this a million times throughout your life; a first impression counts! This is as true for meeting your new colleagues as it is when meeting your girlfriend or boyfriend’s parents. 

You need to impress your new colleagues; they’re going to be the people deciding whether or not to keep you on and offer you a role after you finish your placement. The first few weeks of your new job will involve endless introductions to various members of the business. 

What’s the key to making a good first impression? 

  • Be yourself - this sounds cliche but nobody likes a fake person, so just act natural.
  • Be punctual - be on time to meetings and complete your tasks on time.
  • Dress appropriately - you can find out the dress code in advance of joining the company.
  • Smile and laugh - this will make you seem more natural and friendly!

2) Have an idea of what you want to achieve

More often that not, your first day welcomes the setting of objectives and goals with your manager - prepare for this! Have a think about what you want to achieve from your time at the company as this will help to shape your experience.  

Once you have your objectives, your manager can support you and ensure you get the  most out of your placement or internship.

Being prepared for the objective setting will show your ambition and drive to succeed, which is a great way to make a great first impression!

A good way of setting out your plans and aspirations is to create a 30/60/90 day plan, which will help you hit the ground running at your new job.

30 days: You should focus on training and learning new processes.

60 days: Take the learnings from the first 30 days, develop your expertise and expand your knowledge.

90 days: After 90 days, you should be confident enough to make your own suggestions for improvements across the business.

3) Be ready to learn (especially from those around you)

Let’s be honest, if you’re on work experience you are there to learn. Keep this in mind when you’re heading into your new role - be like a sponge and absorb as much as possible. Everyone in the business will have something different to teach you and you should grasp this opportunity to learn and develop with both hands. After all, that’s exactly what a placement or internship is for!

Take a notebook with you everywhere you go and keep reflecting back on both your successes and failures so that you can keep improving.

4) Know where you're going and how to get there

One of the most common things to be worried about before you start a new job is knowing where the office is, how to get there and how long it takes! If your new role is in a new city, you’re going to have to familiarise yourself with the area.

If you have to travel far to get to the office via train or car, do your research and figure out a plan A and plan B route (especially if you’re getting the train to London, as railway staff love a strike). It might also be a good idea to do a practice run so that when it comes to your first day you know exactly where you’re going and how long it will take you!

5) Do your research

Go back over your notes from when you researched the company for your interviews, and fill in any gaps of knowledge that will be relevant to your role. For example if you’re going into a marketing role that will involve you managing the company’s social media accounts, make sure you have gone back over the last few weeks worth of posts on all of their social media platforms. By doing so, this will give you a good idea of their brand voice and the usual type of posts that the company puts out. 

By doing research, you might even come up with a good idea for a project to do while you’re with the business. Turn up on your first few days armed with this knowledge and you will be warmly welcomed into the company. 

6) Get into a good sleeping pattern

This may seem straightforward, maybe even patronising, but being at work isn’t like being at university. You can’t just roll out of bed whenever you feel like it and stroll to the library to read over the notes for that lecture you missed that morning. You’ve got to be in work every morning bright and early, working 9 'til 5 as a wise country musician once said. 

You’re going to have to be well rested especially if you’ve got a long commute ahead of you; gone are the days of staying up until the early hours of the morning. Your best bet is to get into a solid sleeping pattern that gives you at least 7 or 8 hours sleep. This will mean you stay on top of your game.

7) Have something to do in your spare time

Now that you don’t have coursework deadlines hanging over your head or the looming terror of exams you can enjoy your evenings and weekends. Make friends with other students who are also on your placement or internship scheme, or even your new colleagues. Below are some examples of things you could do in your new found spare time:

  • Explore your new surroundings! If you’re new to the area take some time and go for a walk.
  • Join a company sports team or join a gym to stay active.
  • If you're looking for something more creative, you could take up photography or cooking!

No matter how old or how experienced you are, starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. Following our seven tips will allow you to be well prepared to hit the ground running when you start your new role.

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