As designers when you start a new job the real work starts day one.  Schedules are always tight.  Budgets are always razor thin and there is always something to do.   As owner of DBI, as well as my time at Callison and working to hire architects at Starbucks, I know that the first day expectations are high for new designers start a new role.

Since most of us do not change jobs that often I have created five tips to help architect and designers get ready for their first day on the job.

  1. Get started before your first day of employment. Hopefully you have a good on-boarding plan and your new manager is able to share non-confidential information with you so you can start reading and understanding more about your new role. This on-boarding can also include all of your enrollment related activities to opt in for health benefits or other paperwork you can complete before beginning this new journey. It will demonstrate to your new boss that you want to be highly productive and confirm to him/her they made the right choice by selecting you! 

ADVICE: Send a quick email to the lead HR person and ask if there is any paperwork you can complete before your first day. Also ask your new hiring manager if you can schedule a 20-30-minute call to talk about your on-boarding and find out if there is anything you can do to learn more about the role before you start so you can hit the ground running!

  1. You were probably hired because you know your “stuff”. Whether its Revit, Hospitality, OSHPD, or executive leadership – you are new, and nobody has seen you in action. You are essentially an unknown entity to this new organization and that’s neither good nor bad. You rocked the role in your former organization and people may have thought you walked on water. Guess what? You get to start all over to demonstrate your value. It’s ok because successful people repeat themselves. Just know everyone is watching you and trying to figure you out. Again, that’s fine. 

ADVICE: Don’t tell people what you are going to do. Just do it. Let your actions and energy do the talking. It’s always much better!

  1. You have no social circles on day one. You will soon discover who is who, learn more about the people you want to learn from and those you want to keep your distance from. I’m a big believer in just being yourself – so you don’t have another persona to serve up. Observation and listening are also great tools when approaching something new. Alliances will be formed but don’t rush to align yourself too quickly. Even if you are the new CEO – observing the environment is always better that jumping in on day one to make changes. 

ADVICE: Take your time and be yourself and let things evolve over a period of time. Knowledge is power so gather plenty of G2 before you make your big splash.

  1. Perception and reality never mesh. Your expectations were set in the interview process.  Now reality sets in as you begin to understand the culture, teamwork and quality of the people you will be working with, working for, or leading. If you find thing a bit different, and you will, you get no points for complaining about anything that is different than the way it was billed but you’ll get massive kudos for embracing whatever you walk into and for making it better. 

ADVICE: You are now part of the new organization and regardless of what was presented to you by the CEO, hiring manager or the recruiter – it is your job to add value and to make a difference. Not all roles have candidates starting to work at a new organization where everything is perfect. Adapt and make your own contribution. Don’t complain if you don’t invest your time and energy to make things better.

  1. You have a new leader and will need to adjust to his/her leadership style. Forget how great or poorly your old boss did things – as this is a new era in your work history. Working for multiple leaders, all with their own unique style, is a wonderful learning experience. You will get to learn different skills and be mentored by multiple leaders which will ultimately help shape you as your career progresses. 

ADVICE: Embrace the new leader and make sure you find out how you can create value for him/her. Raise your hand when he/she needs someone to step up and perform a difficult task or put in extra hours. Do more than your co-workers and find a way to become someone your new boss can turn to when they need someone to step up. In your 1:1 meetings with your new boss – ask for feedback (not praise) on how you can improve as a member of their team.

Finally, simple yet sage advice that I learned over a decade ago that has always served me well:

  • Do what you say you’ll do.
  • Do it sooner than he/she expects
  • Do a little more than they expect and you will stand out in ways you can’t imagine!