I've managed to get a job technically just before I've graduated. The only work experience I've had so far is in a retail job in a supermarket. I worked there for about 3 and a half years. The new job is software development.

My old retail job was, simply put, absolutely awful with incredibly rude, insulting and demeaning staff, including the management. A few times I have legitimately discovered they have lied about various things including work they assigned to me. There were a few cases of me basically being bullied/harassed by the management there too. They were all "best friends" with each other so reporting it was pointless and could have actually made my time there far worse and even more unenjoyable and stressful. So from this I really have gained little to nothing when it comes to how to work in a functional work environment.

So it's fair to say I want to make sure that my first "proper" job goes as smoothly as possible and I want to give a good first impression when I start there. Due to the problems I mentioned previously, it is really important to me that I have good relations with the other people there because at my previous retail job there was absolutely no job satisfaction and an incredibly stressful time for me.

So I know some basics like:

  1. Don't be late on first day
  2. Wear the correct attire
  3. Don't go talking about political or controversial topics as it may offend someone
  4. Be positive when discussing work
  5. Ask questions and do research when needed

What other things should I try to do to give a good impression and also to ensure I have a pleasant time working there? Even obvious things may not necessarily be obvious to me, with my lack of work experience.

5 Answers 5


Your list is a great start, and indicates you are conscious of how others may perceive you and that you seriously want to make a good impression. You're on the right track already!

Here are a few more tips:

Be Proactive. Do what you can to learn about your position and how it fits in to the mission of the company. Don't wait for someone to tell you to put some thought into how you can make a positive impact. Research what you can, listen (as mentioned in another response) and anticipate how you might do something to exceed expectations. You must be careful what you actually DO early in this job, but be prepared to offer well thought out suggestions and ideas when asked.

Communicate. If you don't have much interaction with your manager early on, write up a summary of what you have done, any questions you have, etc. and send to him/her even if they don't ask for it. Do this on a regular basis. Your manager likely has a lot going on, and if that's the case being proactive with your communication will be appreciated.

If something isn't clear, ask. Trust me: you will not offend your manager by asking for clarification on an assignment, or asking for a firm due date, or asking for help prioritizing your work. Make sure there is no confusion upfront and you will have less stress. They won't be worrying about whether or not they will get what they asked for, and neither will you.


To give a good first impression - say yes to every lunch invite you can and listen more than you speak.

If they're good employers and good people they will know this is your first professional job and they want you to succeed, because they hired you to solve a problem and want you to be the solution to that problem. No doubt lots of people will be offering lots of hints (some obvious, some not) on how to succeed there. Listen to all of them but think very carefully which 'hints' you act on.


Don't think that you know how things should be done the "correct" way. Existing systems probably are as they are for various, often historical reasons. People normally know that improvement could and should happen but they are usually not waiting for a freshmen to tell them what to do. Watch, ask questions, but don't dismiss everything you see as old and in need of immediate rebuilding.

  • 1
    While I don't advocate pointing out how to fix everything the first day, do ask questions about these legacy historical systems and why things haven't been fixed. A lot of the historical reasons are often just "because that's always the way it's been" and having the new blood question things can be a very good thing sometimes.
    – DA.
    Jun 15, 2015 at 17:17

What other things should I try to do to give a good impression and also to ensure I have a pleasant time working there?

  • Smile
  • Be friendly
  • Try to learn people's names
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions when you don't know something

First Day:

Be ready to take it as it comes. You've got the right checklist above. Don't start with any expectations if you can help it. Figure you will meet lots of people, and focus on learning names, and figuring how your work will connect with the folks you'll be meeting.

Have or get a notebook to take notes with.

First week & month:

You'll be settling in and getting your development environment working and doing low-risk work. It's a time for getting to know people and learning how to be effective. Wherever possible, do the following:

  • Find out what work and what tasks are most important. A lot of stuff will get thrown at you. What do you have to do everyday, what is an extra thing or a rarely occurring task? What is the first step or must-do thing to do right now?

  • Keep track of deadlines - there may be many.

  • Keep track of the size if your work. If someone says "this should be easy, it'll take a day or less" and you are midway into Day #2, it's probably time to ask for help. Conversely, if the work was supposed to take a week, Day 2 should not be something that has you worried, unless you've made no progress.

  • Know how to relate status and who to ask for help when you are stuck.

  • Know the procedure on how to call in late or sick BEFORE you ever get stuck in traffic or sick.

  • Ask and learn about general expectations. Not everything gets spelled out explicitly. For some things you may need to observe your coworkers.

After That

Check in once and a while with your boss and/or senior colleagues. "how am I doing?" is a fine question to ask your boss. The feedback may be painfully direct or completely useless, but at least you have a hope of learning from it. Often a busy boss will not tell you without you asking.

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