first week at work

Tips For How to Survive Your First Week of Work

I’m a recent college graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and am now working as an electrical engineer in the Aerospace industry. I recently relocated to Phoenix, Arizona with hopes and dreams of self-discovery and a new desire for exploration. While this might sound like I am fairly responsible and have my life together, I absolutely DO NOT!

This was my first week of work and let me tell you, shit got real! I had interned at this company this past summer, yet becoming a full-time was a lot to adjust to. I’ve put together a list of things that I wish I had done along with what I did right during my internship and the first week of work in the real world.

Be Prepared

First off, you should definitely know what your position is and what it entails. Will you be in an office, the power plant, or working on various sites? What is the dress code? What are your daily responsibilities?

When my manager described the position’s responsibilities, I requested some supplemental materials to read to get ahead. Let’s be honest, I didn’t study them as in-depth as I said I would. But at least I got a glimpse of what was to come.

Secondly, I asked my manager for the site’s dress code. I was hesitant about asking because I thought it sounded girly but it turned out the attire was more casual than I anticipated. I ended up saving a bunch of money!

Don’t forget, journals, pens and highlighters are ALWAYS a necessity! Proper work tools will make a huge difference, especially for your very first week of work.

Getting to Work

So now you have the job but how are you going to get there? Make sure to map out your commute and target what could be some traffic areas and verify your entrance to the building. You should add about 15 minutes to your current commute estimation just in case of extra traffic or to account for getting inside and situated in your building. If you’re like me and run on Mexican time, set all of your clocks a few minutes ahead so when you’re rushing out the door you will actually be right on time.

First Impressions Matter!

You are going to meet a lot of people in your first week of work, and chances are you may not always run into them in the future. Still, it’s best to leave colleagues with a positive perspective of you.

Si, todavia tienes que saludar a todos! Your mama knew what she was doing when she taught you manners. Always be sure to give a firm handshake with no more than two pumps. Like they say, more than two shakes and you’re playing with yourself!

I received a tip from a great friend that I have been implementing this week and has helped substantially. Create an excel sheet to keep track of the people you meet, what they do, and something to remember them by. For example, Dilbert, Engineer Specialized in XYZ, Sits by Bob. This will come in handy when your direct managers and mentors are busy and you need help on approaching problems.

The general consensus that I’ve gathered from my coworkers is that having a good attitude will get you a long way. Some days it will be frustrating but it’s these days when you are truly learning. My personal motto is “to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

The first week of work can be intimidating, but remember it will get easier! If you’re entering the private sector, particularly as an engineer, there aren’t a lot of Latinas and so it may be difficult to find people to relate to or you may feel intimidated by your role or peers. My hope is that by taking the initiative to prepare and learn from the mistakes of others, you may have an easier transition and pioneer the way for future Latinas in STEM.

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