How to Make a Great First Impression

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Some people strongly believe that first impressions aren’t everything. However, when walking into the office on the first day of your internship or job, you better believe that the initial perceptions of your employer and co-workers will help construct their opinions about you. Being self-aware goes a long way—the ability to adjust to different environments and situations will help to prove your worth in the workplace. Here are some tips for making a great first impression at your new job:

1. People will take you as seriously as you take yourself and your work

“Simple things like getting to the office early and staying late are longstanding tenets of making a good first impression,” says Chuck Reutlinger, the associate director of career services at Syracuse University. Your employer and co-workers will notice that you care about punctuality, which could ultimately lead to growing trust of your efficiency. Make sure to get a read on the office culture—take note of how your supervisors and co-workers evaluate work. Reutlinger states that it’s crucial to know how to please your boss and produce expected results early on.

Moreover, although you want to be recognized for your brain and not your looks, the truth is that many first impressions are constructed by visual perceptions. Dress for the job you want, and not the one you have; present yourself the way you intend to perform at work. 

2. Be positive

Exuding enthusiasm towards your new job opportunity goes a long way. It shows that you are excited to be at your new workplace, and are therefore passionate and willing to be a team contributor. Michelle G., a Cornell University student interning at a financial services firm, advises the importance of positivity on her first day of work. “Even though I thought I was in over my head, I still remained externally optimistic," she said. "Everyone reacted positively to my enthusiasm and willingness to learn.”

3. Be a team player

Go out of your way to learn your co-worker’s names quickly. Do your homework on your employer and the company you will work for; you will arrive appearing prepared to be a great addition to the company. Reutlinger also advises the importance of understanding lines of communication within your organization.

Additionally, although you want to impress your boss as soon as possible, do not try to sabotage other co-workers in order to make yourself look better. That tactic is a surefire way to make enemies, something that could only hurt your work performance on future projects or networking opportunities. Openly appreciate your workplace and those around you—it’s a gift that continues to give.

4. Take initiative

Proving you can take charge right off the bat shows that you are capable and willing to take on additional roles down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either; it shows that you are interested in learning and making an immediate impact at the company. Michelle’s first day on the job went well because she was not afraid to ask questions and caught the attention of her boss and supervisor. 

5. Listen

Show that you are there to learn, not to be a show off. You have marketable skills that could potentially contribute to the company—that’s why they hired you. There is no need to constantly steal the limelight or act like a know-it-all in order to grab the attention of your boss or co-workers. Communicate humbly and efficiently, but most importantly, listen to what you are being taught by those around you.

It’s understandable if you have the first day jitters. Just remember that you were hired for a reason, and you can easily establish yourself as a young professional in your new workplace by being self-aware. And also, have no fear if your shaky hands spill a little bit of coffee once or twice–no one is perfect.

Junior > English > Cornell University

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