Transitioning to the Workforce

So you landed the job!

Congratulations!….Now what?

Here are some things you can do if you’re starting a new job for the first time to
make your transition a smooth one:

Before You Start

Know yourself

  • Review your job description and highlight your specific areas of strength and challenge.
  • Write down how your strengths might help you in your first 90 days on the job.
  • Write down questions or concerns to ask your supervisor about challenge areas. Will
    you receive training on these skills/areas? Consider strategies that would help you
    overcome these challenges.

Create goals

  • Write down some goals for your first 30-60-90 days on the job. Consider who you want
    to get to know, how you want to feel, and what you want to get done.

  • Ask instructors or professionals in your field for ideas on what goals are relevant
    to your field or role.

Adjust your expectations

  • That first job may not be as “exciting” as you thought, or organizational culture
    or policies may prevent doing all you want.

  • Consider some things about the job that might cause frustration or challenges ahead
    of time. Give yourself grace and time to adjust to the new job and work environment.

Connect with employer before starting

  • Contact your supervisor approximately two weeks before you start to express your excitement
    and to ask if there’s anything to do or learn to prepare for your new job.
  • You can also ask about your first day, such as where to park, training schedules,
    or other relevant details that might be helpful.

Organize your personal life

  • If it’s your first job, try to take care of all you can before starting – cleaning
    house, paying bills, stocking up on groceries/meals, etc.

  • For any work transition, talk to family and friends about your excitement and concerns
    for your new role. Their support can help make the transition easier.

Start your professional wardrobe

  • If you haven’t already, make sure you have some appropriate clothing for your new

  • You may want to have a few professional pieces, but wait until you learn more about
    the work environment to create a full professional wardrobe.

  • Have enough clothing cleaned and ready to wear for several days of work.


After You Start

Your first day

  • Arrive early, and introduce yourself to everyone, no matter their role or level.
  • Ask questions about office facilities, equipment, policies, dress code, etc.
  • Consider bringing lunch or a water bottle. You may want to bring personal items later
    on, after seeing the work space.

Get to know others

  • Make time to get to know anyone you’ll work with. Ask for an informal time to meet
    and chat. Prepare a few “getting to know you” questions and ask how their role works
    with your new role.

  • Notice others’ team work and leadership styles. If you find a team member who is a
    more seasoned professional and a model to you, consider trying to talk to them more.
    Often, those individuals can serve as mentors to help you develop in your career.

  • Notice those who energize you – and those who drain you. How can you prioritize working
    with those who energize you? Can you change your communication or 

Contribute to a positive work culture

  • Treat all colleagues with courtesy and respect, no matter their position or level.

  • Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm to take on projects you’re excited about and contribute
    to your professional growth. It’s okay to balance this with not overworking yourself.
    If you’re being asked to work late to do tasks that are someone else’s job, there
    are times when saying no is appropriate. 

  • Clear is kind – be transparent and tactful in your communication with supervisors
    and colleagues. If you’re unsure about about a negative review, ask for detailed feedback.
    If your colleague didn’t meet a deadline for a group project, walk to their office
    and inquire about it, perhaps offering support on the task, if needed.
  • It’s okay to build personal relationships with people you work with, but avoid gossip.
    Use your energy for positive discussions and stay away from discussing one colleague
    with another.

  • Consider and reflect on your boundaries. This article provides detail on how to set boundaries in the workplace.

Learn the organizational culture

  • Learn processes and procedures, rules and norms of your new workplace. Knowing “the
    ropes” of an organization’s operations can make you more efficient and effective in
    your job.

  • Realize that relationships have already been formed, it will take time to establish
    yourself interpersonally – you may feel “new” for some time. Often, it takes up to
    6 months to start to feel comfortable in a job and up to a year to know most facets
    of your role.

  • Make notes on things you like and don’t like about the organizational culture. This
    can be an excellent tool for you to evaluate future jobs.

Check in and update goals

  • Revisit the goals you wrote down for your first 30-60-90 days on the job. Consider
    adjusting these as you start to learn more about your job.

  • Ask your supervisor about performance evaluation and goals they have for you in your
    new job. Consider actions and steps that can help you perform well in the upcoming
  • Track your achievements of these goals and beyond. Write this down to use in the future.
    This can help you advocate for a promotion or secure your next job.