Starting Out- Preparing For Your Graduate Job
August 20, 2012
By: Ashleigh Wight
So, that time has finally arrived! Everything you have been working for throughout university has finally come together and you’ve landed yourself a graduate job. Congratulations! You can now breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to living on something more appetising than beans on toast and Value range meals as your bank account begins to look healthy again. But, after the initial celebrating dies down, you may find yourself fretting before your first day on the job. Your first week can be extremely daunting and you’ll no doubt have a lot to take in, so prepare in the best possible way by considering these four main points before you start.
1. What should I wear?
The traditional girls’ dilemma that we are all familiar with, whatever the occasion may be. In the professional world, appearances mean a lot and it’s crucial that you make a good first impression by dressing appropriately.
When you were told you had the job, your employer may have told you what the dress code is, but if you’re unsure it’s best to ask them before you turn up in an office full of suit-wearing professionals in your ripped jeans and comfy Converse.
Many workplaces adopt a ‘smart-casual’ dress code. When I was told that this was the case for my new job, I wondered what this meant exactly. I assumed that tracksuit bottoms or an evening dress were no-nos, but a smart-casual dress code seemed open to interpretation to me.
I got round this initial dilemma by dressing conservatively in the first week and played it safe with tailored trousers, patterned blouses, cardigans and pumps. Upon arrival, I could see that my workplace was a lot more casual than I had expected and from looking around the office in my first week I learned that smart jeans were okay, as were sandals and t-shirts.
Use your first week to discover what you can and can’t wear by looking around you, then maybe try different outfits in the second week if you feel that these would be more comfortable, yet still suitable.
2. What will I be doing exactly?
Spend the weekend before your new job going over what your role entails, who the company are and what they do. They’ll expect you to be a little unsure over the first few weeks, but your boss is not going to be too impressed with someone who turns up on a news desk thinking they were going to work in the sales department.
Refer back to the initial job description you applied for, which should tell you what your roles and responsibilities are. Make a mental note of these, or better still, write them down and take them with you in case you need a little reminder.
Familiarise yourself with the company and their background with a quick Internet search. They won’t expect you to know last year’s annual turnover and their targets for this year, but they would probably want you to be aware of who their competitors are, what services the company offers and how you fit in to their organisation.
3. How will I get there?
There’s nothing more unprofessional and embarrassing than walking into the office an hour late on your first day because your alarm didn’t go off. Arrive late and immediately your boss is going to be wary of you. Therefore it is important to do everything within your power to ensure that you get there on time.
Start by planning your journey the day before, as well as a back-up one in case there is a problem. If you’re driving, make sure there is enough fuel in your car and print off a map so you know exactly where you’re going and where you’re going to park, if there is no onsite parking.
If you’re taking public transport, allow plenty of time for your journey in case there is traffic or there is a problem with the train. If you start work at 9 and there are trains that arrive at 8.30 and 8.55, it’s best to pick the earlier one just in case there is a delay.
Wake up early to allow yourself plenty of time to get ready. Set two alarms just in case one fails to go off and make sure your clothes are dry and ready to be worn the night before your first day.
4. What should I bring with me?
If you haven’t been told to bring anything specific along with you, it’s hard to know what you will need. However, there are a few things you should take with you on your first day just in case you need them.
Notebook and pen- For noting down your work email address, the code to get in the front door, the office hottie’s number… you know the drill!
Mug/glass – For tea/coffee/water.
Umbrella- To prevent you from looking like a drowned rat as you walk through the door.
Photo ID and National Insurance card- For admin purposes.
Starting a new job is stressful and scary for everyone, therefore it is important that you don’t let nerves get the best of you. Spend a couple of days before your first day getting plenty of sleep, catching up on TV and relaxing with a good book. You’ll feel refreshed and raring to go on your first day, whereas if you’ve been out clubbing the night before, you’ll more than likely feel tired and hung over. Not a good first impression at all!