Congratulations! You succeeded in landing your first position in industry after NIH and, like most trainees, you are experiencing a mix of emotions in anticipation getting started. For many of you, not only is this your first “real job” after your graduate school and postdoc, it is your first job outside of academia. This blog will provide suggestions of what to expect during your first week and offers some do’s and don’ts in support of a successful transition from the comfortable routine of NIH lab to the work world.
Like many adventures, preparation in advance will be essential to your success in your new position. Give yourself at least one week’s time after you leave NIH to prepare to begin your new position. During this time, you can relocate, establish your new home, assemble your wardrobe, and take care of personal and family business. Complete any pre-work (articles, projects etc.) that your boss recommends before your first day. Bring any forms of identification (usually two) for your first day. We also suggest carving out some personal time, to de-stress and engage in wellness activities so you can start your job refreshed. Consider doing a practice commute before your first day to assure that you will be on-time and know the directions. Typically, your new boss or HR manager will provide you with a place to report, a contact person, an itinerary of what to expect that day, and where to park (if needed).
First Day – Onboarding
You have arrived (preferably about 15 minutes early), are well-dressed, and are prepared to approach the day with a fresh positive attitude. More importantly, prepare to meet lots of people! Your new supervisor (or someone that they appoint) will welcome you, introduce you to your co-workers, show you to your workspace, and take you to lunch. You will also meet many important people (office assistants, IT, HR etc.) who are charged to get you prepared to communicate with your coworkers and succeed in the company. Expect to fill out paperwork, get pin-numbers, get yourself established with payroll, establish an email account and telephone number, get ID cards, obtain security clearances, obtain parking passes, and obtain access to any facilities you will need. Someone will take you on a tour of the facilities and escort you to any meetings that have been scheduled for you. Also, expect to be enrolled (that day or in the first week) in a New Employees Orientation that will introduce you to company culture, provide you with instructions for how to enroll in benefits (Health, Dental, Vision, etc.), and inform you of resources available to you as an employee. During down time settle into your new space, read any materials that you were given, and enjoy some quiet time. On your way home, be sure to say goodbye to your boss and team.
First Week – Establishing yourself as a team member
Beginning with your second day continue to get established in your new work environment by learning about your first work activities and completingion of the onboarding process (most likely takes longer than one day). Approach each new day with the goals of being alert, asking good questions, behave collaboratively, and to begin contributing to the team’s success (without overstepping). The following are suggestions for the remainder of the week to help you become successful.
- Meet your co-workers casually, in meetings, and over lunch. Prepare a short introduction to use including your new title, where you came from, and your department.
- Begin to set up a calendar and To-do list that includes time to meet with your new supervisor and team.
- Be observant and learn about office norms (arrival and departure, dress code, meeting etiquette etc.).
- Attend all orientations that are scheduled for you and complete paperwork on time.
- Look interested and be attentive in meetings. Ask many questions
- Contribute to office discussions – minimally at first, but enough to show you are engaged
- Begin a list of SMART goals to accomplish during your first 90 days
Things to Avoid
- Don’t arrive late or leave early. Communicate with your boss or administrative assistant if there is a conflict (inclement weather, etc.) so they are aware.
- Try not to call in sick or be absent unless it is crucial. Why? You need to earn sick leave.
- Don’t use your cell phone or I pad, or earphones. This non-verbal behavior will be interpreted as aloof, closed off, disinterested and disrespectful.
- Don’t sit in your office or eat alone. Seek out an opportunity to be a collaborator and team player
- Don’t be silent. Add something to the conversations to show engagement in meetings
- Don’t agree with office gossip or speak negatively about co-workers, work environment, boss, culture. It is better to say “thanks for the heads up”
- Don’t ask your about future promotions additional positions in the company. Focus on the current position
Getting a new position in industry is exciting. Following these simple suggestions can help you start off in a positive manner and be prepared for success. Visit our videocast and learn more about starting a faculty position. Feel free to chat with an OITE career services counselor to discuss starting your job in more detail.