January quickly approaches, along with the beginning of the first-year students’ residencies. As excitement (and nerves) are building, it is easy to stress out and lose sight of what’s really important. To help avoid this, here are 10 quick tips to get off on the right foot:
Dress to Impress
First impressions are incredibly important. After all, you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression with someone. When in doubt, ask your manager what the dress expectations are, and consider going slightly above this. Remember: Better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Know where to go
This might seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you know where you’re going. Prior to your first day, take a trip to the neighbourhood where your office building or workplace is located. You can also use this opportunity to scope out the parking lot and find the right door to enter. If you aren’t physically able to make the trip beforehand, try exploring the area on Google Maps’ street view. This will allow you to avoid any oversights, and will help to calm the nerves.
The last thing you want to have happen on your first day is to plan your trip to work perfectly, only to be surprised with a delay due to traffic. Depending on the length of your commute, plan on arriving around a half hour early. Arriving early will make a great impression. If you’ve budgeted too much extra time, simply grab a coffee nearby or read the paper while you wait.
Plan your coffee and meals
While buying coffee OUT can be an easy habit to fall into, this small cost will add up quickly. Buying a $3 coffee every day totals to over $1,000 in a year. Buying your lunch every work day is even more expensive, easily costing over $2,500 annually. Consider packing your meals and beverages to cut down on costs and you could save a few thousand dollars each year.
Be confident in your abilities
It’s natural to feel nervous about how you’ll perform in your new job; remember that you got hired for a reason. Your qualifications and experiences up until this point have lead you here, and your employer has seen potential in you. Have confidence in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to volunteer to help out if the opportunity arises. This residency is a chance not only to practice what you know, but also to learn new skills.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Many residency partners have had students from previous cohorts in the past. Don’t be shy to reach out to these individuals, as they are more than happy to help and can prove to be invaluable resources. Whether you are looking for quick tips for success in the corporate environment or insights on what the company culture will be like, your fellow students and alumni have been in your shoes and will have plenty of insights to offer.
Likewise, once you begin your residency, don’t be afraid to direct questions to your co-workers and managers. If you’re worried that you’re asking too many questions, consider making a list to ask during a status meeting with your manager. While it is perfectly acceptable and expected to ask for help, you should also be prepared. Have some potential solutions at hand when requesting assistance to demonstrate that you’re organized and resourceful.
During your time with your employer organization, there will be times where you have additional capacity. Take advantage of this time to further your growth by taking on additional tasks. Ask your manager and coworkers if there is anything else that you could provide them assistance with. If you’ve still got additional time, find ways to create value for your organization such as by helping to organize shared drives or creating status documents for projects. Many organizations also have volunteer programs, which could provide an extra chance to add value to the company.
Set goals for yourself
Your two primary goals heading into your residency should be to provide value to your organization and to achieve personal growth. While your value creation should come somewhat naturally with the guidance of your employer, your personal growth is in your own hands. Before starting, take some time to reflect on what skills and abilities you’re hoping to gain from this experience. Then, once you’re on your residency, keep an eye out for opportunities to assist with tasks that will help you achieve these skills. Be sure to take some time every couple of weeks to evaluate your progress and to set new goals when necessary.
As you get in the hustle and bustle of your residency, networking can find itself pushed to the backburner. To help avoid this, give yourself a concrete target to hit, such as going for a networking coffee or informational interview once a week or twice a month. This will provide you with a tangible objective to help keep this a priority. Lunch times and company events also provide an easy opportunity to network with coworkers. In addition, keep an eye out for a potential mentor who can provide you with guidance, introduce you to useful contacts, and help shape your networking strategy.
Don’t forget, you are at the start of a great opportunity. If you’re not enthusiastic about your presence at the company, why should anyone else be? Regardless of whether your residency represents the chance to dip your toes in a new industry or the first step towards accomplishing your dream, this is an opportunity to kickstart your future career and gain invaluable experience that you’ll leverage down the line. Be excited, have fun, and good luck!