How to Prepare for Your First Day at Work

The above picture is of 1 man and 2 women welcoming a new worker.

How to Prepare for Your First Day at Work

In the past, it was common for a job seeker to find a job right out of college and then work in the same office until retirement. Today, the average American will change careers about twelve times in their lifetime. 

That's just one reason why knowing how to elegantly navigate your first day at work is a critical career skill. 

If you have a disability, however, your first day can come with unique challenges and anxieties. You might need more support to prepare for success. It can be helpful to make a plan so you can embrace the excitement of a new employment journey. 

We've created this guide to share our best advice to help you get ready for your first day in the office as a new, disabled employee. Consider it a checklist for the weeks leading up to your start date. 

Read on to learn how to prepare for your first day of work. 

Plan Your Personal Elevator Pitch

Office work can be a grind, and a new employee's arrival can be exciting for the regulars. You'll probably attract a lot of attention as you get settled. That means you'll have a lot of new, curious co-workers to meet.

It's common for a supervisor to give new employees a tour and introduce them to important figures in the office. Consider preparing a brief personal elevator pitch to help your day of introductions go smoothly. Plan to share your name, your new position, and a little about your background. 

Reach Out About Accommodations 

You know what accommodations you need to succeed at work, but your employer might not be as knowledgeable. Share your needs as early as possible to ensure your workplace is ready for your arrival.

You might need to request an elevator key, arrange for an accessible desk or workspace, or even request special assistive technologies on office computers.

Your employer wants you to perform at your best. Don't be afraid to tell them what you need to do your best work and thrive in the office environment. It's better than arriving and realizing you can't perform your duties because you're missing a vital tool. 

Start (And Stick To) An Evening Routine

It can be hard to sleep if you're feeling nervous or excited about your first day. With that said, you're more likely to perform at your peak if you get a full night of sleep before work. You can plan for success by establishing a healthy evening routine in the days or weeks leading up to your first day. 

Consider doing the following:

  • Setting out clothing the night before
  • Turning off screens at least thirty minutes before bedtime
  • Lowering the lights in your home in the evening 
  • Packing and setting out your work bag

If you start early, your positive work routines will become habits. It will be easier to get restful sleep and wake up ready to start the day.

Do Your Research

If you're prone to anxiety, do some research about your new workplace in the lead-up to your first day. Browse the company website and social media accounts and read through the employee handbook. If you come across references to software or tools you're unfamiliar with, take some time to look them up by seeking out online resources such as YouTube videos.

Come Up With Questions

After doing your research, you might still have unanswered questions. We promise your new employer won't hold this against you. They expect there to be a learning curve, and asking questions is a great way to demonstrate interest and initiative. 

Jot down any questions you have as you read through the handbook or browse the website. If you do research and can't turn up the answer to a question, write it down instead. Arrange a meeting with your direct supervisor to discuss your concerns. 

Consider Making a Dry Run

When you're disabled, transportation can be trickier than jumping in the car and hitting the road. You might want to make a dry run to your work site before the first day to help you learn what to expect. This is particularly important if you'll be relying on public transportation, which can be quirky and comes with its own challenges. 

By taking a dry run, you'll figure out the best time to leave home to beat traffic or avoid congestion on your commute. You'll also feel more confident about the route. If you drive, you'll be able to scope out designated disability parking.

Pack a Bag (and Lunch)

Once you're settled in the office, you'll know which supplies and materials are present and which ones you need to bring from home. Before you know for sure, you might want to bring along a few essentials. Pack more than you think you need for the first day, including a pad and pen so you can take notes about routines and procedures. 

It is also wise to pack your own lunch on the first day. Choose a cold, shelf-stable lunch until you know what kitchen or dining facilities are available. Not all offices have refrigerators and places to heat up a hot lunch. 

Furthermore, many workplaces have on-site or nearby dining facilities, and the staff might order out on designated days of the week. Come prepared, and you won't go hungry while you figure out the status quo.

Have a Great First Day at Work

You've survived many nerve-wracking first days in your life, from your first day at school to your first date. Why shouldn't your first day at work involve the same anticipatory excitement? Remember that your new employer chose you out of all the potential applicants, and walk in on time and with a smile. 

Before you can pick out your clothes for the first day, you'll need to secure the perfect new job. Browse the job board to find accessible workplaces with open-minded hiring managers eager to work with you. Start your application, and you'll be navigating the onboarding process in no time!