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Career Advice

Fresh grads, here's what you need to know on your first day at work

By Paulo Vargas on July 7, 2015

Hey fresh grad, congrats on getting your first job! Now that the arduous process of job hunting is over, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. Well... sort of.

Your first day in your new job can either be stressful or stress-free, but it all depends on how prepared you are. The work of preparation never ends.

On my first day at my first job, my boss immediately asked me to spearhead a new publication. No ifs or buts. I was lucky enough to have friendly colleagues who treated me to lunch and mentored me before I got too overwhelmed. If you're not as lucky, and if you get a job at a big company, everybody will most likely be busy doing their own thing so prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for anything that might come your way.

One good way to do that is to get the small (yet important) stuff out of the way. The less small tasks you have on your to do list, the faster you can focus on learning the ropes. Here's a list of things you need to know on your first day at work.

1. Requirements

On your first day, the human resources (HR) department will hand you a list of all the things you need to submit: NBI clearance, SSS number, TIN number, school diploma, etc.

You can probably delay submitting some of them for at least a month, but what will most likely happen is you will forget about them entirely.

I had a co-worker who, for two years, did not pay his taxes because HR did not have his TIN number. Don't let this happen to you. It's your first job, do your best to keep your record clean.

2. Where to eat

Does your office have a no-eating-at-your-desk policy? Then where do you eat? Most big offices have canteens, but it will be occupied during lunch time by people who have been working there for years.

If you did not bring home-cooked meals, then where do you buy food? As a newbie, we can't expect you to have money to eat expensive fast food everyday. Tag along a with friendly coworker and find out where you can buy cheap lunch.

In Makati CBD, it's easy enough to spot Jollijeeps, but what if you work in McKinley Hill? It's your mission to find out where that carinderia is.

3. Best way to get there

You may have taken a cab to get to your interview on time, but now that you work there, mom and dad are not going to shoulder an expensive commute. You have a car? Good for you, but not for your wallet.

Talk to a coworker who takes the same route as you so you can find a way to get to work that's easy on your pockets.

Don't limit yourself to what they say, you can do your own research. Talk to barkers to find out where the terminals are. Follow the crowd to know where they go to get home.

Finding the right commute route can probably save you Php100 daily.

4. Familiarize yourself with the red tape

The best way to approach a new job is to familiarize yourself with red tape. How to file for overtime, vacation leave, sick leave, who to contact during emergencies, how long before your expenses are reimbursed.

You can't demand for something and expect it be given to you immediately. There is due process in any office, and you should learn who to talk to in HR, IT, and management.

5. Nobody will hold your hand

Angela, now a team lead for a startup outsourcing company, said that when she started they only had one day of training before they had to answer emails. The outsourcing industry is known to have week-long paid training for new employees, and it was a surprise for her that they were on the floor on their second day.

Unlike school, the office world is very different. After a brief intro on what you're supposed to do, a company might ask you to do it immediately. You can't make up excuses for your shortcomings, but you can learn from your mistakes.

Do you remember your first day in high school? Your first day at work is nothing like that.

Just focus on how to do your job well and your first day at work can be the first day of a satisfying career.