I've never had a "real" job before. How should I expect the first day?

I'm supposed to check in, but I'm completely oblivious to how this all will pan out.

Do I just show up and follow through? What if no one guides me? Where do you go when first arriving?

I think there's like an employee login room or something? Break room? Not sure.

The job is at a supermarket and it's entry-level/minimum wage. I wasn't given full info or anything -- just told to show up for my first day on Thursday and "report" in but not much else was clarified (I was also a bit nervous too & still am).

What do I expect? Can anyone break it down in simple terms? Thanks!

  • 2
    No one can be expected to know exactly what to do the first day on the job. Someone will tell you.
    – Seth R
    Aug 2, 2021 at 18:46
  • 4
    my first week was basically sitting around doing nothing. 20 years later... it very rarely happened again . . . TLDR: don't worry about it too much. Be on time, have a positive attitude, be patient.
    – Pete W
    Aug 2, 2021 at 18:59
  • Show up with beginners mind and take it from there :)
    – M_dk
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:40

4 Answers 4


Congrats! Arrive a little early, like 15-20 minutes just for contingencies. Show up at the customer service desk if they have one and ask for guidance. If you cannot find that, then ask another employee like a checker for the manager. Don't be afraid to interrupt or ignore the line, just ask. The manager will probably chat with you, give you training/legal materials, introduce you to people, etc. Good luck.


If you are being told to report to the store, then showing up early and going to the customer service desk will be fine.

If the store is a chain they may want you to go to a central location where everybody starting that week will be meeting. If that is the case, you should make sure you know exactly where to go, so that you aren't trying to find the right entrance to the warehouse.

If you aren't sure then a quick email or phone call to you point of contact should clear everything up.

Depending on your country/state you may have to bring some official documents like your ID, birth certificate, or even a COVID vaccine record. You might want to ask about that also.


Beyond the basics, they probably won't hand-hold you at all, and you will find slackers, but they are not your problem.

Take initiative and build up a list of daily tasks. This list is copied from my answer to a different question.

  • Check priority corporate communication on whether any urgent tasks need to be done (price changes, promotion/discounts, pulled stock, end-cap advertising, other high priority items).
  • Stock shelves and reorganize according to corporate communication above. This is going to be on the floor so simultaneously be ready to help customers.
  • Tidy and Reorganize shelves in addition to what is required by corporate. Note problematic area that require extra attention (dirty spots that are hard to remove, broken/loose shelving, missing price tags)
  • Check shipping schedule / clear warehouse / floor presence. These tasks change in priority based on circumstances. No shipment means clearing warehouse can be done later. Floor presence can be prioritized if there are special promos or the store is busy.
  • Help out other departments check to see if other departments are short-staffed and help out, without sacrificing my own responsibilities.
  • Receive shipping / Clean problematic areas noted above / Reprinting missing price tags / miscellaneous time consuming tasks. My store receives shipment during operating hours so I will have to go and unload the truck. Once in a while I'll have to come back out to help customers but the other departments help out with floor presence. This is because I help them out from above so they help me out for this part.
  • End-of-day floor clean when the day is ending, do proper clean that couldn't be done earlier (don't want a staff to be unnecessarily taking apart shelving when there are customers around).
  • Final warehouse clean, sweep, put things away

If the supermarket uses a standard layout, there will be an area to clock in, an HR office, and a break room. If you don't already have your uniform and badge/ID, you should plan to arrive early and head straight to the HR office to finish onboarding. If you already have those things, clock in with whatever their process is, then look for either the department manager you are working under or the HR manager if you don't know who that is. From there, your DM will handle getting you familiar with the workplace, the processes you'll be responsible for, and the team you'll be working with.

General advice for starting any new job: the manager knows you won't know what you're doing, and will usually keep an eye on you for a while to be sure you can handle not getting someone hurt or breaking anything, don't feel awkward if you feel like you're constantly being watched on your first day or two. The manager also knows that they will need to get you up to speed, so just follow along with them. After they get ready to let you get to work, be sure to ask the most important question: "Who do I go to if I need help?" A lot of managers in supermarkets designate a specific team member as the person for general questions or advice, and they don't want to get involved unless the problem is big, so be sure you know who to get with if you need more work or have a small question.

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