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Surviving Your First Week on the Job

by | Apr 14, 2019

Earlier this year I shared the strategies that I use to survive the first day on the job and I got a lot of great feedback. Making a solid good impression on the first day is critical but so is transitioning from being the new person to someone that actually contributes.

Here are 6 things I focus on during the first week on the job.


6 Strategies to Make the Most of Your First Week on the Job

Continue what you started on the first day
The items we stressed for the first day are still important throughout the first week — meeting and interacting with your co-workers, learning their names, taking notes, locating key documentation and presenting yourself with confidence will all continue to help you throughout the first week.

Understand what the cadence of the team and their work is
One of the most important things to do in the first week is to understand how your new team gets their work done. What are the regular meetings? Is the team using Agile – if so, what is the sprint cadence and what are the ceremonies and meetings associated with it? Are there other regular meetings scheduled like code or architecture reviews?

Read the documentation
On the first day, try to find out where your new team stores their key documentation and now is the time to start reviewing it. In so many cases the answers to the questions you have are right there waiting for you to find them. Even if you have no pressing questions, reading the team’s docs can shed valuable light on how they think and work and how they will expect you to complete your tasks.

Start building your network
As you are meeting your new team members and others in teams you will be interacting with, figure out who will be willing and able to best help you with different aspects of your work. Who are the experts? Who is most approachable?

Dig into the data structures and existing code base
There is no better way to understand what your team has already accomplished and how they go about their work than poking around the code and data that already exists. Patterns and practices that I discover in code and data structures are often much more informative than discussions with the people who wrote that code.

Focus on delivering measurable work by the end of the week
Make producing something the primary goal of the week. Nothing gives me more confidence at a new job than committing code or meaningfully contributing to a pull request. A focus on delivery can also drive me to interact with coworkers and code to discover how exactly to get my first task done. If you haven’t been given a task, ask for one.


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