Top Tips for Making a Successful First Day on Assignment

By Theresa Zandi

So you are starting a new position as an Application Developer and your start date is approaching. When preparing for a first day, people generally approach it in two parts. The first being what you do before you leave for the job, and the second being what happens once you get there. In order to have a successful first day on assignment, you need to be prepared. Here are some top tips on how to set yourself up for success:

Preparing for the day
When getting ready for your first day on assignment, your first thought should be, “What am I going to wear?” Do yourself a favor and pick out your outfit the night before. There’s no need to be fumbling through your closet in the morning and accidentally making yourself late by second guessing your choice. Let’s say you interviewed for the job and you wore a suit, sport coat, pantsuit or blazer, but, you noticed when you got there that people were dressed a little more casually. So now, you need to dress more the part on your first day. Remember, you don’t want to overdress or underdress. Try to blend in with your colleagues since you’re now one of them, but maybe even just a tick above that when first starting out.

Before you head out of the house, gather your supplies. As an Application Developer, you likely know the materials you need to have with you, but here are a few items to always remember. You’re going to want to bring the standards like a pad of paper, pens, your ID and a water bottle. Put these all together the night before and if you really don’t want to forget, put it in the car right then or place it by the door ready to grab on your way out.

Prior to your first day on assignment, you need to plan out your commute. Check out the weather, the traffic, and know what you are getting yourself into, so you are not late. Make sure you take everything into account in order to arrive 15-20 minutes early. This will give you enough time to deal with obstacles in your commute, and if you’re even earlier than planned, hang out in your car until about 15 minutes before go time. You don’t want to look like too much of an eager beaver on your first day!

Make sure that you’ve fueled up prior to entering the office. Eat a good breakfast or grab something to eat in the car on the way. No one wants to be sitting in orientation and hearing your stomach growl. Along with breakfast, pack a lunch, but make sure it’s something that could hold over until the next day. Most likely, your manager or the team is taking you out for lunch on your first day (and if they offer, go), but if for one reason or another this isn’t the case, you should be prepared. Obviously, don’t bring tuna fish or any other food that has a strong smell, but something that lasts if it’s left for a day like an apple and a PB&J.

Once you’re at the office
First things first, be approachable, professional, and definitely smile. Look the part and engage them. You want people to work with you and even though you may speak Java, Angular or other application development languages, they will likely stay away if they see a scowl on your face or your head is buried in your cell phone when no one’s around. When you meet your new coworkers, greet them with a strong, confident handshake. Also, take the initiative to seek them out if you’ve been left with nothing to do for a while.

Because you’re the new person around, a lot of people might ask, “Who are you and what do you do?” Be prepared and have a quick elevator pitch at the ready. It only needs to be a 20-30 second overview of you and your background that you deliver when someone meets you.

A good practice all the time, particularly on your first day, is to make sure you are listening more than talking. You don’t want to look like a) you have all the answers or b) you are interrupting people. It’s your first day, they’ve been there awhile, so listen to what they have to say, take notes when necessary and ask questions when appropriate.
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While at work, be patient. A lot of people are eager to get started, but your new employer might not have everything quite set up for you. You may not have a cube or desk yet or even a phone. Remember, it’s your first day, so relax. It will work out and you just need to be patient.

Finally, exercise common courtesy. When someone has taken time with you, thank them. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just a simple “thanks for showing me around” or something similarly appropriate. They took time out of their day and letting them know you appreciate it and are thankful makes a good impression.

Things to keep in mind

  • Arrive early – never late.
  • Don’t wear an excessive amount of cologne or perfume.
  • Keep positive. Always stay in a good mood – fake it until you make it if you have to. Even if you had the worst day, put on a smile and off you go.
  • Don’t act like a know-it-all. That never goes over well.
  • Put your phone away. You want to look approachable and having your head down looking at your phone has the opposite effect.

Having a successful first day on assignment requires a lot of preparation prior to showing up at the office. Prepare the night before and set your plan in place for the morning of your first day. Remain positive and professional. With that, have a successful first day and good luck in your application development role. By the way, we are using application developer to keep in context, but this applies to Java developers as much as Project Managers, Business Analysts and all IT and other roles.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients – from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms – in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications.

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