Starting a new job is exciting! Here are some things to keep in mind so things go smoothly.


Getting Started

Additional Notes

  • Look out for periodic Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA).
  • Know whether your company provides yearly bonuses, performance bonuses, or stock options.

Resources from UMD's Financial Aid Office


  • Meet with your supervisor to set expectations for your first 30, 60, 90 days of work  and get clear on performance review requirements.
  • Keep a positive attitude and show enthusiasm for your work. Be patient with yourself and others. 
  • Learn as much at your new job as possible and show humility. Treat every task assigned to you equally, even if you think it is mundane.
  • Communicate, early and often! If you don't know something, ask! If something is a problem for you, bring it up to resolve it.
  • Be a part of the team; if something is an issue, ask how you can help. 
  • Write a checklist of tasks (online is best if you're in a hybrid work environment) and use your calendar wisely to schedule and adhere to uninterrupted work times dedicated to projects. Be attentive in meetings and make sure you write things down. You will have a lot going on at once and it can be easy to lose track of assigments.
  • Make notes of your accomplishments to share with your supervisor. 


  • Challenge yourself to help improve the efficiency of a process or task assigned to you.
  • Show initiative.
    • If you complete a project ahead of schedule, brainstorm some projects or learning opportunities you can begin working on. Provide a list of potential tasks to your supervisor so they can choose what you should prioritize. If you cannot think of a task, ask your supervisor to point in you in the right direction. 
  • Keep informed on news and industry trends.
  • Grab lunch with colleagues in the office; talking to people you work with is equally important to networking elsewhere.
  • Seek out a mentor, who might not be your direct supervisor, for advice on how to navigate your career.
  • Stay in touch with all your contacts from past experiences!
  • Update your resume any time you finish a project, get a raise or promotion, learn a new skill, or accomplish something significant. Make use of a master resume or “brag-book.” Similar to a portfolio, this will come in handy with updating your resume, building your network, or asking for a raise.

On a personal note:

  • Set boundaries: don’t forget your activities and hobbies. Remember to take care of yourself outside of work.
  • Be open to unexpected opportunities.

Your First Day


  • Ask plenty of questions.
    • HR: For questions related to onboarding, such as paychecks, parking permits, and benefits, reach out your Human Resources (HR) representative. Typically, phone or email is best for these questions.
    • Supervisor: For questions related to job duties and company processes, reach out to your supervisor. It is wise to schedule weekly 1-1 meetings with your supervisor and collect questions to ask at that time. Otherwise, ask your supervisor whether they have an open-door policy or for their preferred communication method.
    • Colleagues: For questions about daily work culture or helpful job resources, you may want to reach out to colleagues rather than your supervisor. Sending emails or using an email chat feature can work well; however, you may still want to ask colleagues for their preferred communication methods.
    • Online/Internal Resources: Before asking someone a question, check whether you can find the answer online or in your company's internal resources, such as shared drives or manuals.
  • Plan your commute. Being early is infinitely better than being on time, especially for your first day.
  • Dress well in order to make a good impression. If others are dressed more casually around you, you may consider dressing down once you have been at the company for more time.
  • Start using your calendar and making folders (email and otherwise) for staying organized. Keep your onboarding information easily accessible.
  • Take notes on important websites (use bookmarks) and processes. Make sure to remember your passwords!
  • Don't leave without saying goodbye to your supervisor. Thanking them for hiring you and let them know that you enjoyed your first day. Talk with them if they open conversation, both in a professional and more personal sense, if you are comfortable.


  • Prepare an elevator pitch in order to introduce yourself to your new coworkers. Explain your previous jobs and what your position is in the company now.
  • Schedule individual meetings with each of your colleagues to get to know them, their work, and how you can work with them in your role.
  • Observe those around you and get a feel for the overall atmosphere of the company. Observe how people interact with one another, what kind of language they use, and how they behave with their superiors/subordinates. This will help you understand the culture of your new job and make better decisions.
  • Equally important, pay attention to your body language. You may not realize when you start to slouch or show signs of boredom like yawning or playing idly with your pen. Demonstrate your engagement with others by sitting up straight, being attentive to what they are saying, and adding to the conversation when appropriate.

Arriving Home After Your First Day

  • Relax! You made it through the first day!
  • Organize and review any notes you made about the company (important deadlines, forms that need to be filled, credentials, etc.).
  • Connect to your colleagues on LinkedIn to continue building a professional relationship with them.
  • Make a plan for the next day. Use what you learned during your first day to help guide the rest of your week.

  • Understand the terms of your employment (i.e not publicly supporting a candidate running in a partisan election).
  • If you have a probationary period, respect it, as it will help your employer decide whether or not you remain as a permanent employee.
  • Learn who does what and how they interact with other people/departments.
  • Understand that the government can work a little more slowly than expected. Bureaucracy, especially in a federal job can often be frustrating, but remember that your work does make a difference. If you’re not convinced, research what acts/laws give your office the authority to exist so you better understand the context of your work.
  • Classification and pay grade systems in the government mean there is a steep hierarchy that must be respected.
  • Go beyond the required training for your job, and learn from those around you.
  • Read up on the various reports, manuals, and budgets that surround your department. As you do, take note of certain terms that you might be unfamiliar with and ask about them. 
  • Ask about formal or informal mentorship programs.
  • You can find more information at GovLoop and GovExec