#FirstInterview and #FirstDayofWork Survival Kits
So if you’re just tuning in, a little bit about me!
When I graduated from college in 2009, I was lucky enough to find a challenging and eye-opening position teaching at a children’s theater camp. Shortly after that, I was lucky enough to find a job related to major— a total accomplishment for someone majoring in the arts/humanities (though apparently not anymore).
After budget cuts eliminated my position with the school I began the long and arduous process of job searching, finding, temping, and searching again. As I referenced in my last post, I did all sorts of odd jobs and had more interviews than I’d like to admit before I was finally fortunate enough to find a non-profit programming position.
As you can imagine, I had a lot of #firsts: first interviews, first phone calls, first days on the job—so I learned a lot about how to be able to be ready at the drop of a hat for any of ‘em. Here are just a couple of survival kits and quick tips that I’ve found are absolute MUSTS for these #firsts.
#FirstInterview Survival Kit:
1) Dress Guards or Kleenex
I don’t know about you but I sweat a LOT, especially when I’m nervous. What’s more, interview-appropriate attire isn’t always the most air conditioned. Having some dress guards or Kleenex on hand in the car always helps to hide those lovely “nervous patches” that creep up under the arms. And don’t forget to hang the blazer up in the car and put it on last minute so it doesn’t wrinkle.
2) The addresses, phone numbers, and old supervisors at any past position.
I can’t stress this enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting waiting for an interview and they hand me a job application to fill out. As if I don’t already have enough to worry about trying to remember my STAR stories now I have to dredge up the main office phone at my internship in 2005? You should already be bringing a resume, so just take the extra step and save yourself the grief later on.
3) Blank thank you notes
I got this little trick from my dad. When you go into an interview bring a good sized stack of blank thank you notes and stick them in your briefcase/purse/whatever. When the interview is fresh on your mind, find a quiet spot (like the lobby, or your car) to write a nice, handwritten note. The preparedness will reflect well on you and you will surely stand out!
#Firstinterview Quick Tips: If they offer a water or coffee, take it! It gives you time to catch a breath and get the lay of the land. I usually go for water because it doesn’t give you weird breath, funny teeth, and when you spill it nobody gets hurt!
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on a question. You’ll look WAY stupider if you nervously launch into an answer that has nothing to do with what they asked. They’ll probably even appreciate it
And most of all…be authentic! You wouldn’t be interviewed if they didn’t think you were capable of the job, most of what they’re looking for is a cultural fit for the organization. Particularly in small non-profits, being able jive with the other employees is a must, so be yourself and you make your interviewer’s (and your) task much easier.
#Firstday Survival Kit
1) Headphones or ear buds
I know you’re thinking I’m crazy, but hear me out. For nearly every position I’ve had from food service to call centers, there have been some sort of training videos. Particularly in non-profits (and especially as a newbie) you might be sharing an office— probably with people who are very busy! In my current position, I’ve shared my work space with up to 3 other ladies. In a more frenetic work environment, it may be hard to hear instructions over the other things that are going on. More than once, I’ve found myself hunching over a desk, trying to listen to the speakers turned as low (or high) as humanly possible and only catching about 60% of what was said. It’s always a good idea to have headphones on your person, anyway, for impromptu trips to the gym (assuming you have a smartphone) and random moments of boredom.
2) A soda/five hour energy/ iced tea/ whatever you use to stay awake
If, like me, before your #firstday you kind of made your own schedule thang, you probably aren’t used to remaining engaged for 5,6,7,8 hours at a time. That much mental energy can be draining. And when 3:00 pm hits and you’ve watched training videos and read employee manuals all day, you may feel your eyelids drooping. Do your self a favor and bring your own pick-me-up!
3) Lint Roller
An absolute must, especially if you have pets. No matter how much you try you can NEVER get it all. You never know when you’ll get called into a quick meeting with a client or your supervisor. Even when I worked as a barista, I would get up at 5 in the morning and dress in our customary all-black attire, only to get to work to find my kitty’s hair all over me. Gross and unprofessional.
#Firstday Quick Tips: Just because you got the job, doesn’t mean you get to forget your answer to, “Tell us about yourself.” Everyone dreads this question in an interview situation. Well, guess what, you’ll probably have to tell it again for every new co-worker you meet. Sure, you get to relax it a bit, but leave a good first impression by reminding yourself what got you hired. It will help you build connections with your co-workers and help them to see you as capable and competent.
Find out where people eat lunch. Do people normally go out together? Where are the good places nearby? Is there a communal space where people eat? A lunch ritual is essential to building relationships within your organization—if you look like you belong, you will start to belong! As a self-identified introvert I still struggle with this.
Plus, if you’re ever ordering in for a meeting or taking someone out to lunch (or if you were too lazy to pack your lunch) you’ll know what the options are!
Get familiar with the phrase, “Can you remind me…” …what your name is? …where the pens are? …how to dial out?
You will be getting and trying to internalize a lot of new information. You will forget things. Using this phrase will help to let your new co-workers know that you’re a good listener and remember that you SHOULD know something, even if you can’t remember it at the time. It sounds less invasive than asking the question outright.
What are some of your #first_____ survival kits and tips?