Anxiety around first impressions?

Dear fellow ‘people about to start a new job’ –

Are you as nervous as I am?
I’m sure we’re all about the same degree of nervous mixed with totally-bouncing-off-the-wall excited.  I’m at that point where I re-locate in about 40 hours.  I’m finishing packing my current apartment.  I’ve reached the stage where I’m packing my clothes.  Specifically pulling out which outfit I’m wearing on Friday (move day – aka: see my co-workers for the first time since the interview day).

Yes, I admit I paused for a few moments to decide if I wanted to wear the t-shirt with the rhinestone design on it, the t-shirt with my former institution’s fun move-in logo on it, or a more ‘professional’ knit shirt with a collar on Friday when I sign my contract.

I’m also thinking very reflectively about what I want to ‘change’ or ‘do a bit differently’ from my most recent position.  Do I want to revise my personal/professional social-media policy?  Do I want to change what my students are able to view?  Should I make my facebook wall open to people or keep it closed?  What about interactions with co-workers.  Do I want to be the one always offering to go out after work?

What about professional changes? Do I want to change my attire? Knock things one more level dressier than I currently have been doing?  How do I want to respond to emails?  What ‘hours of the day’ am I going to respond to emails?  How am I going to juggle my new responsibilities with the committee work I do for the professional organizations I’m involved with?

I know I’m not the only person thinking about stuff like this.  Clearly my new institution has a dress code, a social media use policy…. and tons of other things to help me with these types of questions — but, the anxiety can still be there – right?

For those who know me well, you know I’m not super nervous about this – I was nervous about this stuff about three months ago.  I’m one of those super-organized over planning types.  So, I’ve planned much of this stuff already in my head.

But, I have seen some tweets & Facebook posts of some of my soon to be co-workers who have vocalized some of these same anxieties that I am also experiencing!

Can some other professionals weigh in and give us some words of advice? Stories of your ‘oops’ moments on your first few days of work? (obviously the stories to laugh over)


4 responses to “Anxiety around first impressions?

  1. To all new job-starters – think of 5 people on your new campus you want to connect with and make that happen in the first month. Take advantage of the “I’m new here, so can you tell me more about that?” This is the fun part, like the start of a new relationship. Be open to the learning, and enjoy it!

  2. Nice post, BG. I think that the best advice I could give would be to find out what the person you are responsible to expects of you and then do whatever you can (not breaking laws) to meet their standards/expectations. You’ll never have to be anxious or worry if you always do what is expected–even if it’s the hard thing to do. The second thing…be good to your teammates. You’ll need them. Finally, do whatever you can to always come through for the people you are responsible for leading. People tend to value those who they can rely on. If you do those three things, then the rest will go very, very well.

    Funny story. I moved in about a week early when I started my first job at UGA. I got up to go for a short run on my first day and got lost on my run. I did not know if I was going to make it to work on time. Fortunately, I found my way back and got cleaned up really quickly. But…I was freaking out when it was 7:30a, I was lost, and had to shower and get to work by 8a.

    BG, you’re going to do well. We would have flunked you if you werent’ ready. Ha Ha. Just kidding.

  3. Great that you are thinking of all the opportunities you have to redefine yourself as you start the next step. Remember you have already made an impression with many, so changes may still surprise some. Reflect, plan, be true to yourself, and try not to overthink it. You’ll find your niche vey quickly, I’m sure!

  4. Making that first impression is exhausting! Just reading your post takes me back to my previous job and my move-in day. I was so worried about what my students and boss would think of me during our initial casual interactions (i.e. them helping me move my items into the new apartment).

    I think it’s just important to be proactive. Take every initial opportunity to meet new people and learn about your new place of employment. Go to student events that you might not otherwise attend. When others invite you to lunch or out after work, try to take advantage of them.

    Just because you’re now at a new place of employment doesn’t mean you need to change everything about you and what you do. But it is good that you’re thinking about it. It’s good to be critical of your own work.

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