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  • Writer's pictureAdeleine Whitten

So you were hired during a global pandemic

Picture this: it's your first day at a new job. What do you envision?

Do you see a brand new outfit? Meeting with IT to set up your laptop? Adding a framed photo of your cat to your brand new desk? Lunch with your new coworkers-slash-future-BFFs, perhaps?

Well, if you said anything other than frantically trying to access your new email and figure out how to work your webcam while wearing pajamas on your bottom half, you'd most likely be wrong in today's working world.

Starting a new job remotely isn't ideal for most people, but for many it’s a reality.

I started a new job in February of 2021. As a reminder, this was before vaccines or even regular testing was widely available, so there weren't many return-to-office plans kicking off just yet. Most of my new colleagues hadn't been in the office for nearly a year, so it was very clear that I would have to start this new role at a new company from my apartment.

When I started my first post-college role, I was required to complete two weeks of onboarding before I could even sit at my desk. My company would fly in new hires from all over the world to take part in this training, and I really did learn everything there was to know about the company, the products, and how we sell them. I also got a crash course in how to reserve meeting rooms, set up a Zoom call (before that was common knowledge), and even order food at the diner.

But on top of that, I also began building relationships with the people around me. Although nobody in my orientation class was on the same team as me, I knew I would be interacting with these people frequently in my new role. And once I was in-seat, having the foundation of those relationships was crucial to managing my projects and getting my work done.

So, yeah, experiencing my first day of a new job by myself in my pajamas was a very different experience. But there were a few things I learned along the way.

Log into your computer early.

This may just be because I'm the queen of technology issues, but I am so thankful I took the time to set up my computer the night before my first day. I was so stressed that I would have issues logging on and look like a no-show to my new manager, so making sure I could log in the night before made my first day that much easier.

But if you get your new laptop two weeks before your start date, make sure to give your administrators enough time to set up your accounts before logging in. Don't stress yourself out thinking your computer is messed up when really you're just a bit too early to the party.

Ask clear questions right away.

What time do you expect me to log on every morning? What about logging off? How do I request PTO? Do I need to alert you if I have an appointment in the middle of the day? What's the timeline for my training? Do I need to set up those calls, or will you be coordinating that?

It can be difficult to just "go with the flow" of a new company or team when your only office-mate is the cat. The best way to get the answers to basic questions like this is to ask your manager directly while you onboard. Don't let Future You panic every time you log off at 4:55 because you don't know whether or not your manager is okay with that.

Ask for feedback.

One of the most difficult things about starting a new job remotely is figuring out how you're being perceived. A simple "How am I doing so far?" or "Is there anything I should be doing differently?" will ensure you're meeting your manager's expectations while also keeping your anxiety in check.

Make a friend.

This is easier said than done, but do your best to find someone either on your team or adjacent to your team to befriend during your first few days. This gives you the social aspect of work that some of us crave while also giving you someone to ping all your seemingly-stupid or random questions to. And if you ever end up in an office, you'll have someone to reserve a desk next to and grab lunch with.

While this can seem like just a pandemic response right now, the reality is that fully remote roles are becoming more and more common – and along with that, remote onboarding. And whether you're team #WFHForever or #GetMeBackToAnOfficeASAP, being prepared and owning your situation are the best ways to set yourself up for success at this next stage in your career.

Oh, and one more thing: don't forget to change into a somewhat-presentable shirt on your first day. You never know if you're gonna end up with a manager who loves turning on video.

Adeleine Whitten | Professional, kind of

is a marketer by day and writer by night, weekend, and sometimes lunch break. You can often find her with a good book or in the Taco Bell drive-thru.

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