Worry #1: Do I actually know what I’m doing?
When you’re young, regardless of your work experience, qualifications, and knowledge, you still might be plagued with nervousness and confusion on your first few days or weeks of a new job. You’re probably trying really hard to show you know your stuff but every now and then, you get that panicky feeling deep down in your stomach that you haven’t got a clue what’s going on.
As my dad used to tell me when I was younger right before I had to do something in front of a crowd: Remember, you breathe better when you’re nervous. I still don’t know if that’s scientifically true, but it helped for some reason. Other than that, remember nobody expects you to be Steve Jobs on the first day of work. Take it one day at a time and every time you learn something new, write it down on a list somewhere. Practically and psychologically, it helps you feel better. Also, try to find someone in the workplace that you trust, who can guide you patiently through all the unwritten rules you need to know.
Worry # 2: Will my co-workers like me?
Nobody likes being the new person anywhere; it doesn’t matter where that place is. In the workplace where relationships and connections are already established, it can feel quite intimidating trying to establish yourself as part of the group.
Make every effort to have a conversation with at least everyone you work closely with in the first few weeks. One way to do this is to ask people about their roles. Not only does this help you better understand who to go to for what (i.e. organizational structure), you can better observe the office dynamics. Also, remember that relationships take time, and it’s important to strike a balance being approachable and trying too hard.
Worry # 3: Will the boss like me?
Perhaps you interviewed with the boss, perhaps you didn’t. Perhaps you work closely with the boss, perhaps you won’t. Either way, if you have a boss (or many bosses), you’re probably going to try and impress them in the first few weeks.
I know it may seem like the right thing to do to impress your boss, but you might want to take a different approach and simply try to focus on doing good work. Sometimes in an effort to impress especially the person who is signing your paycheck, you lose your cool and every minor thing becomes a cause for concern. Get a grip. Chances are, whoever hired you thought you were competent enough for the job and that you’d be a good fit with the team. Your boss will probably be impressed by you doing good work first and foremost – focus on getting that right.
Worry #4: What if I make a big mistake?
First of all, how big a mistake are we talking here? Did you transfer millions of dollars into the wrong account? I mean if you did this, you might very well be in hot water and will need a new job already. For most of us, however, we’re not going to be even given the chance to royally screw up in our first few days.
The thing is, as unfortunate as it is to make big (and small) mistakes in a new workplace, it’s the best way to learn. And it’s important to remember you probably are judging yourself harder than anyone is judging you. Assuming that your co-workers are not complete jerk-wads, they’ll probably be more empathetic than anything.
Worry #5: I feel overwhelmed. Am I really cut out for this?
You’ll have that moment when you think you’re getting the hang of things and all of a sudden you’re asked to do something you’ve a.) never done before or b.) have done before and failed previously at or c.) don’t think is your strength.
It’s easy to stay comfortable doing the things you know you’re good at. It’s not so easy to get out of your comfort zone, especially at work, where you’re afraid of looking stupid. The thing to remember is every opportunity to do something new or different, is an opportunity for growth, and a chance to improve both your perspective as well as your skill set. And never be afraid to ask questions because no matter how dumb you feel, it is better to feel dumb for a few embarrassing moments than to be ignorant in the long-run.
Worry #6: I’m so going to get fired for this. (Insert every little thing under the sun in place of “this.”)
If you’re one of those people who lives in constant fear of the absolute worst happening, you’re probably going to think every little thing from spilling coffee on your shirt, to not answering an email within 15 minutes, will get you fired.
From a practical perspective, the human resources process is expensive, especially in terms of time. Thus firing people is not fun, and where possible your boss is likely going to avoid it in such a short span of time. Moreover, unless you come into a place and royally screw up and I mean punching-your-boss-in-the-face royally screw up, it’s very unlikely that your boss will let you go. If it helps, ask everyone around their office for their biggest screw-up. Listen, learn, and realize that if they made it past that, you will too.