What to Expect Your First Day at a Government Job

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Your first day on the job is a roller coaster of emotions. You'll be nervous, excited, disoriented, overwhelmed and a multitude of other things all at once. Remain calm. Everyone new goes through a similar process.

The day will likely be a mishmash of short bursts of various activities. You'll have people to meet, paperwork to fill out and loads of information to absorb. If your employer has laid out their orientation process thoughtfully, you'll have reference materials for all the first day activities.

No matter how robust or meager your first-day experience is, any orientation should cover the basic information you need to know to have a successful first few weeks on the job. If you get to within a few hours from the end of the day and you haven't touched on all the topics below, ask about them.

Meeting Your New Boss

In most cases, your manager will be the person who hired you. This isn't always the case, but you will know who your boss is before your first day. When you meet your manager, the most important information you can get is the set of expectations your manager has for you. Your manager wants you to succeed and has your best interest in mind. When you look good, your boss looks good.

Meeting Your New Team

In all likelihood, you will be working as part of a team. You won't remember everything about each person you meet, but do your best to remember their names and faces. If you can remember a few interesting facts about them and can reference those nuggets of information later, it'll show them that you care about getting to know them.

As you progress through your first few months, you won't want to go to your manager with every question you have. Try to identify two or three individuals who seem to know what they are doing and who appear to be willing to answer a newbie's questions.

Completing Necessary Paperwork

Your employer will need you to complete paperwork in order to begin your job.

They will certainly ask you to complete forms required by the Internal Revenue Service. If your state has an income tax, you will complete forms for that as well.

Most government employers offer direct deposit of payroll checks. By taking advantage of direct deposit, you can get your check into your bank account as soon as possible.

Depending on the information and data your job may authorize you to access you may be required to complete nondisclosure forms. Basically, these forms force you to attest that you will not release any proprietary information unless allowed to do so by the organization's policies.

You may be asked to acknowledge certain policies in writing. These policies are usually those that should an employee violate them, the organization faces significant legal risk. Examples include sexual harassment and workplace violence. The reason employees are made to acknowledge these policies in writing is to mitigate the employer's liability should an employee violate them. If the organization is sued in conjunction with an employee's alleged violation of the policy, the organization can show its track record of proactive prevention.

Taking Mandatory Training

To go along with the high-risk policies, employers often develop short training modules to outline the tenets of the policies in detail.

The trainings serve two functions. First, the employee gets detailed information about critical policies. Second, the employer mitigates the risk of the employee violating those policies.

Your Little Corner of the World

You will be shown your work space. It will most likely be a desk or a cubicle if you're in an entry-level position. You can tell a lot about your employer by how your new work space looks. If it is clean and stocked with supplies, someone obviously cares about your first impressions. If it is dusty or empty, people may be too busy to help you.

Look at how other employees decorate their work space to see just how much leeway you have in making the space your own. At least to start, be on the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to decor.

Lay of the Land

Your manager or one of your teammates will show you the geography of your building.

At a minimum, you should find out how to get an employee identification badge and where to park your vehicle, go to the restroom and where your computer prints come out.

Your tour is a great opportunity to ask about the organizational culture. Find out what the social norms of the office are, and do your best to follow them until you know which ones are flexible.