Making Your First Day Matter
The first day at a new job is similar to the first day at a new school. You wake up extra early with anticipation, put on your best outfit, and head out – ready and eager to begin a new season. You wonder who you’ll meet and what the day will look like. Sometimes when we begin a new job whether it is within or outside of the church, we can paint the big-idea picture in our minds and rarely focus on the details. But focusing on a few important particulars will guarantee you an easy transition and will show your new organization that you’re ready to go from day one.
Get to Know Your Workplace: The first day might be a little slow depending on what’s been put in place and who’s in the office. You might have a few hours of downtime. If you’re not familiar with where all the ministry departments and key spaces are located, ask someone if they have time to show you around or if it’s okay to go exploring on your own. Aside from knowing where the essentials are, get to know where people work, eat, chat, and meet. When do people arrive and leave? How is lunchtime spent? What programs happen during the week? Are there any places volunteers can’t go? Becoming aware of these nuances will help you feel at home in no time.
Prepare for Paperwork: The first day typically means a meeting with Human Resources and a pile of paperwork. Come prepared and you’ll make this part of being a new hire go smoothly. Bring several forms of ID, a blank check for direct deposit, and an extra copy of your resume. Make sure you have the addresses and phone numbers for your references, as you may need to fill out another application. If you know you’ll need to set up a housing allowance, bring that information too. Having these on hand will allow you to summit the paperwork mountain with ease.
Get to Know People: You may have someone take you around to make introductions, but if that’s not the case, take the initiative. Obviously, don’t interrupt people who are busy, but if you catch someone in the hall, a simple greeting and introduction as well as asking them what they do and how long they’ve been with the organization is a simple and low-pressure way to get to know people you’re working with and opening the door for them to get to know you. Chances are, you’ll also run into key volunteers and ministry leaders during the week. Learn their stories and let them know you’re available.
Technicalities: Hopefully, you’ll be set up with email and a phone, so be prepared to set up your voicemail greeting and email signatures. Now’s also a good time to know who to call if you can’t print or if the internet goes down. Write down usernames and passwords and keep them safe. Find where office supplies are kept and set up your workspace.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions: Sometimes it feels overwhelming to ask a lot of questions during your first few days: you don’t want to seem incompetent! Trust yourself - you’re not – and people expect you to have questions as you transition into your new job. Make a list as you run into things you don’t know and document things you need to remember. This won’t only help you, but your notes will help the next new hire as they transition as well.
Make time for Your Boss/Pastor: At the end of the day, try and find some time to meet with your supervisor/pastor and let him or her know how your first day has gone and if there’s anything urgent that remains outstanding. Begin asking about projects or meetings you need to jump into or if there are any volunteers or other staff members you need to meet with. While there’s no need to boast about how prepared you are, letting your manager know that you’ve met a few people and have taken care of some of the more tedious details will show you’re willing to get things done and are ready to plug and play!
Give it Time: A recent survey indicated it takes at least nine weeks until a new employee feels integrated into an environment. If things feel awkward or questionable for the first few days, accept it as a part of a new season. Be humble, listen, and take time to do things with excellence. As you adjust, your gracious character will be a light to the coworkers around you and soon you’ll be a part of the family.