8 Tips for Calming Your Nerves at a New Job

Starting a new job or internship can make even the most confident individual nervous. After all, you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the office space and you don’t know the procedures that your new company runs itself on. You are embarking on a new chapter in your life, and that is scary for anyone.

So what can you do to help fight off these jitters? We spoke with Jenn DeWall, a career and life coach to millennial women, as well as current collegiettes, to find out. Read on below for eight tips to help calm your new job nerves.

1. Be confident

Leading up to your new job, you may be thinking to yourself, “I want to be confident, but these nerves are just getting in the way!” Don’t worry, collegiettes ––this is totally normal. However, it is important to remember that this company hired you for a reason.

Alaina Leary, a graduate student at Emerson College and editor, fought off late-night nerves the night before she began her new job by telling herself that the company wanted her because they saw her potential. “I had to remind myself that they chose me for a reason, and my skills and my attitude were that reason,” Alaina says. “I kept that attitude in mind, the one that they liked. I could do anything and would be up to any challenge. I came in ready to kick ass and left my first day feeling fantastic!” 

DeWall reiterates this point. "If we believe we'll do well, we will do well––and the opposite is the same," DeWall says. "Set a positive affirmation and focus on that during your first day. It will give you confidence that you can measure." Confidence is key, collegiettes.

2. Know the logistics

So, you got the job. What now? One great way to get ready for your first day is to do your research. Learn all about the people, facilities and procedures involved with your new company! Not only will this make you a better employee, but by default it will calm your nerves because you will feel more prepared when you walk in the door.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your new supervisor to find out when you should arrive, how long your workday will be, what your weekly hours are and any items you should bring with you. “Will you need your own laptop?” Alaina says. “If so, don’t forget your charger! Also, always bring your phone charger––even if you don't use your phone on the job.” Have these back-up items ready in case of an emergency.

It’s normal to be a little bit apprehensive to bombard your supervisor with a million questions before you even start, but he or she will probably appreciate you for it. There are so many things to learn when you start with a new company. "One of the best things you can do early on in your career is ask questions," DeWall says. "By being assertive and asking questions, it shows that you're proactive, engaged in the role and want to be successful." Asking questions just shows you are a dedicated employee! 

Until you get your bearings with your new company, you should try to stay within its normal expectations and knowing the logistics allows you to do so. "Company culture is the key to our success," DeWall says. "If you know that at the company they work from 8 to 5 every day, work 8 to 5. By understanding company and cultural norms, you can better make decisions that will align with your success."

Even something as minor as lunch is important to get information about. Should you pack your own? Is it provided? Is there a cafe on-site? Is there a microwave in the office kitchen? Find out. The more you know before you start, the less nervous you will be when you start.

3. Dress up on your first day

We’ve all been through this one––what are you supposed to wear on the first day?! While it typically varies from place to place, if you are unsure, we recommend going in a little bit overdressed on the first day. Trust us, until you get a feel of the atmosphere (which may be casual), you will make a much better impression looking a little too nice than a little too laid back.

Savanna Tavakoli, a junior at Boston University, reiterates to collegiettes not to overthink things. “I remember when I interned for Cosmopolitan, I showed up on the first day in a dress and heeled booties after spending all morning freaking out about my outfit,” she says. “I imagined this huge office with marble floors and employees dressed in the newest Chanel collection, but it was actually the complete opposite––I was actually overdressed! I had let my anxiety convince me it would be a Devil Wears Prada situation, when really it was just like any normal office.”

Alaina agrees that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself. “On the first day, dress up for the job unless you’ve been told directly that you should dress casually,” Alaina says. “It’s okay to look more formal than everyone else on your first day because on that day, you can take note of what other employees wear and get a good feel for what is acceptable.” It is also important that you find out the level of strictness your company has toward piercings and tattoos.

Keep in mind that your attire is tied to the perception that your coworkers will have of you. "Be conservative, dress business casual or business professional," DeWall says. "Make sure you come in dressing to impress in professional attire until you know it's acceptable to dress otherwise." It is always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed!

Related: 7 Ways to Improve Your Focus at Work

4. Reach out to someone with an established career

Whether it is a family member, mentor, friend or anyone else who is already in the workforce, reach out to someone who has been in his or her career for more than two years. Why? It's simple—at one point they were in your shoes! 

DeWall believes this is a great starting point. "Ask them the attitude, energy and characteristics that make someone successful early on in their careers," she says. Even if this person's career is not in your field, they will be able to let you know some general workplace expectations and calm your anxieties. 

Always remember that everyone starts at the bottom. Prior to your new job, speaking with someone who has been there could be the comfort you need! 

5. Write out your anxieties

If you find that you are being plagued by anxious thoughts in the days leading up to your first day on the job, try tackling these thoughts by writing them out. 

"Write down the thought that's making you anxious and ask yourself, 'How true is this thought?'" DeWall says. "If that doesn't work, take a walk and remove yourself from the situation that is causing you stress. Taking a break will give you the opportunity to re-ground yourself and better approach the next task." Anxiety is the worst, but there are ways you can fight it off. 

DeWall recommends another beneficial writing exercise to ease your mind. "Ground yourself by writing down specific answers to questions such as: How do I want the first day to go? What do I want to learn? What type of worker or leader do I want to be?" she says. "The answers will calm the anxiety and give you direction." Afterward, you will be better able to focus on your tasks for that day!

6. Get to know your coworkers

Definitely reach out to your peers at the start of your new job. However, keep in mind that you should keep it professional in the beginning. "This is not a time to be overly personal or share inappropriate stories," DeWall says. "Your peers are just getting to know you, so you want to make the best impression." As time progresses, you will naturally begin to open up to each other on a more personal level.

Since your coworkers are employeed at the same company as you (duh!), they will be able to provide you with tips and tricks that can help you be successful. If you are intimidated, remember that they were also the "new guys" at one point. Unlike what we see in the movies, most people do not want to see you fail. Your peers will be more than happy to help you succeed!  

7. Set a bedtime ritual

This one may sound like a cliche, but it is honestly underrated. Sleep is so important! Prioritizing a consistent nighttime will only benefit you (in more ways than one).

Start by creating a set sleep time and wake-up time, and stick with it. "Structure and routine helps ground us and reduce our stress," DeWall says. "The better our sleep and [exercise] habits are, the better we'll be able to handle any challenges we face during the work day." There is nothing better than a good night's sleep, especially before a big moment in life!

8. Bring personal items for your workspace

Any transition in life can feel a little bit uncomfortable. Your world is being shifted and that obviously takes some getting used to! So how do you make yourself a bit more comfortable in your new work environment? Bring sentimental items with you!

You don't want to go overboard on the first day, but bringing little touches of home is absolutely okay. "Bring items that inspire you to display on your desk," DeWall says. "Bring pictures and items that bring you joy. When you're stressed, you can look at these items and use them as a distraction to ground you!" We completely agree.

When new job jitters hit you, embrace them. Reassure yourself of the hard worker that you are, take a deep breath and relax. You are about to embark on a new journey and while that may be very scary, the best things always come from what scares us the most!