The first day on the job is like the first day at school. Basically you’ve got no friends, you miss your mum and you’re going to shit yourself. Unless you’re one of those go-getters, in which case you probably aren’t even reading this, you’re either working really hard at your job and loving it or you’re at the gym loving the Stairmaster. For ordinary people. First days. Suck. The big one.
You have to learn a whole bunch of new stuff and meet new people; most of whom are going to be completely boring or stupid or insane. But you have to be nice to them because today’s your first day and they all know everything and you know nothing. You don’t know the good lunch places either so you have to rely on the freaks you just met for café recommendations and they’re never good. You might as well eat out of the garbage bin.
Also, spending the afternoon on Facebook is going to look bad so even when you’ve got absolutely nothing to do (probably the only good thing is ‘It’s my first day’ is the best excuse for getting out of work) you can’t even see what the world is up to (what if someone from primary school is reading an interesting article about bees?!).
Yeah, it’s that bad on your first day.
So here are some tips to get you through it …
Get loaded the night before. Totally off your face. Go to the worst places imaginable and spend ridiculous amounts of money on booze and smoke cigarettes and dance on tables and talk to criminals because there is nothing cooler than being the seedy bad boy/girl on the first day of work. Think Bad Santa. Not Bad Teacher. Be funny and tragic not tragic and Cameron Diaz. The right people will be drawn to you and the wrong people will be scared off by your general rudeness and smell.
Even if you don’t drink tea or coffee or smoke twenty five cigarettes a day, when someone asks if you’d like either one of these things, you have to say ‘yes’. It’s all about being included. Being a team player. If they ask you to shoot heroin in a back alley, think hard about it and then say ‘yes’.
Bring in a picture of yourself to put on your desk or above your locker/work station. I may have mentioned this trick previously for impressing people when inviting them to your home or giving as a gift to in-laws. A framed photo of yourself serves so many purposes. At work it pretty much confuses the hell out of people and gets them talking about you in the hallways, and trust me; they will keep talking about you long after you’re gone. You could even spend some time Photoshopping the photo to make yourself look like Jesus or perhaps the Virgin Mary.
Bring snacks. For everybody. Workers love to eat and they will also love you for giving them a distraction from their shitty jobs. If you can’t be bothered thinking about different snacks just buy a big fat cake.
Try to spend at least an hour in your new boss’s office. Yes, this is going to get a bit awkward because they’re probably busy and will be trying to usher you out of there, but you have to stay. You have to make an impression and it also won’t do any harm to waste some time. Ask them questions – heaps of questions. At first just make them about work and how they got to be the boss but eventually you’ll have to turn to other things. Asking about the photos of their kids and dogs and so on is a good one. Of course some of these questions may increase the awkward factor (just don’t step over the line too much with: ‘Seventeen huh? Mmm. So, is he/she seeing anyone right now?’) but in a weird way they’ll probably appreciate you taking the time to really get to know them.
Towards the end of the first day your new co-workers will ask you questions like ‘So, how was it?’ and say things like ‘You’ve done really well’ or ‘It’s a lot to take on’, and you basically have to agree with them. Even if your task is so simple a chimp could do it and the people you met were complete fucking numpties, you have to just nod and smile. Because this is also their first day with you. They have to go through the first day motions and feel a little awkward as well, y’know. Actually … I should probably come up with some tips for handling the new girl/guy too …