Everyone at one point or another has been “The New Guy/Girl” at a job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average baby boomer held 11 jobs between ages 18 and 46. Younger generations move around even more; today an 18-year-old will have had more than five jobs by age 24. This affords us many opportunities to meet new people, and be challenged with new tasks.
All of this change can be a bit of an uncomfortable experience. However, there are ways to ease being a newcomer in the workplace.
This is the most important thing. Dale Carnegie wrote in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People that "A person's name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language." After meeting people, make little notes to help you learn their names. Of course, you will not know everyone’s name on day one, but this is a good start in your process of assimilating into the workplace.
Is it laid-back, is it uptight, do your coworkers go out to lunch together or do people eat together in the break room? It is important when you are new to learn how things are done on a social level. Engage with your coworkers and find out what things are done in the office to build rapport. If there is a fantasy football team, participate; if everyone likes to go to happy hour after work, join in. These little instances of being social will help assuage whatever anxieties you have about fitting in.
You will not know everything right away, and your coworkers will be more than happy to assist you in any way. After all, they were once in your shoes and undoubtedly still remember what it is like to be new. Also, it is better to ask a question and be informed than to wonder what the correct course of action is and do the wrong thing. Asking questions shows that you are eager to learn and to become part of the team.
In conclusion, starting a new job should be an exciting time. Take on any challenges that might arise and meet them head-on. Whatever nervousness you have will fade away as the more comfortable you become with your fellow employees and your environment. The best way to do this is to be both a little observant and a little outgoing. Listen, learn and be unafraid. Everything else will fall into place.