Today is the day, you filled out all the paperwork online, you came in and watched some videos, now you’re all dressed and heading out to the floor. And now your mind starts spinning. “What did I get myself into? Everyone seems nice, but what if no one likes me? What if I make a bunch of mistakes? There is so much I don’t know. Oh my god, this place is narrow! I’m either going to fall on the grill or put my hand in the french fryer! All that and I have to talk to customers and make change?” Ok, breathe! Stop, it’s only been 2 minutes. Here are some things to make it all go easier and score some points with the boss along the way.
First, step back, hopefully your first job is at a place you are familiar with. You have seen some of these people in action and you are familiar with the product. So smile, say hi, and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Now, follow your trainer, listen with an open mind (sometimes we are told what to do and it doesn’t seem right), and ask questions when you don’t understand.
So you have been working for a half hour and all of a sudden you start hearing, “No it goes over there.” “You want to put the handle all the way up.” I know what you are thinking. “ Oh no, I making mistakes.” Yes, but no. Yes you are doing it wrong, but no, you aren’t in trouble, you are being corrected. There is a big difference, and your success is all in the way you handle it:
Do – Listen, learn, and remember for next time.
Do – Ask questions and make sure you understand what to do.
Don’t – Take it personal, get defensive with the person that corrected you, or overthink and get into that mistake mind cycle.
Don’t – Ignore the correction, because you think you know better, or complain the person is picking on you.
This is really important to understand. Being corrected is part of how you learn. Keep being corrected for the same thing over and over, then you will be in trouble.
Ok, you finished what you were told to do, now what? Well don’t just stand there! Look and see if there is something obvious, like picking stuff up off the floor or restocking an item? Nothing? GO ASK! Don’t wait to be told what to do next, ask. Ask the worker next to you or ask a supervisor. Don’t be that guy that just stands there not helping the team.
As the shift goes on, work hard, keep busy, smile, ask questions, and keep learning. Now you know you should be off in a few minutes, but you are in the middle of something. Don’t worry, your supervisor knows when you should be off. They also know what staff coverage they need. Unless you are directed to do so, don’t just walk over and clock out. If it’s busy, your supervisor, might need you for just a little longer and might be too busy to talk to you about staying.
All right, the shift is over, now what? If you have a locker, put your name tag, hat, apron, or whatever in your locker and go home. No locker, put your name tag or apron in a safe place so you know where it will be for your next shift. Don’t be Debbie. After my first shift, I didn’t have a locker yet, so I put my name tag in a safe place in my purse. I didn’t want to lose it. Flash forward to shift two. I couldn’t remember where I put my name tag. I had to ask my new boss for another one. They had fun teasing me about that. I found it in my purse pocket weeks later! Ok, now all your uniform pieces are in a safe place, go home, and tell your family about your first day.
As a side note, if you work in a restaurant or someplace where your shoes will get really dirty, change them before you get in the car or at minimum, don’t wear them in your house. You will score lots of points with your mom if you don’t track grease and ketchup on her floors.
I would love hear about your first day in the comments.