Tips for your first day as a graphic designer

One of the things that’s most exciting as a graphic designer that doesn’t involve starting a new project. It’s usually starting at a new place of work. It’s exciting to get past the interview process and realize that you’re the person for the job.

So you show up on your first day excited to show off everything, you know that you’re a hard worker, and that you’re going to contribute right away to a team.

But slow down for a minute.

We don’t want to have the first day set us up for inevitable burnout and failure down the road.

On the flip side, we’ve all been at a job where someone new comes in and is determined to change everything on the first day. It’s frustrating to deal with that when there are already processes in place and the team is working well together as a whole.

So as a designer, how do you make a good impression, but not rock the boat at the same time, and creating a bunch of enemies before your first day is even over?

First: be friendly.

Meet everyone on the first day that you possibly can. I know this sounds like a bit of obvious advice. But it really is true. When I first started my last job, I made a point to go around and meet every single person that I’d potentially be working with. I didn’t have a whole lot on my plate at that moment, which gave me the opportunity to do this. I learned what everyone did and how my role fit into that.

By my second day, I had a good idea of where and how I’d be fitting in with certain team members that I’d be working with. As you start taking on more responsibility, and fit into your job, you’ll find that you’ll have less and less time to do this. If you’re going through any kind of training process, it’s likely your new workplace will attempt to do this on some level. But don’t be afraid to dive in deeper — especially if some of those people aren’t too busy while you’re going through your first day of training.

Next, take notes.

Eventually that first project lands on your desk along with what the last designer’s approach was. It’s okay to stick to that for a moment and take notes along the way. Don’t be afraid to inject how you prefer to do things. But be careful about how the changes you make affect everything else. This isn’t to say that you need to be quiet for an entire month. But what I found helped me at my last job was waiting for about a week or two before I started to make changes.

There’s a balance here. You don’t want to wait too long, but you don’t want to change everything right away. Knowing how you fit into your team will guide you to a good pace.

Have boundaries? Set them.

Whatever boundaries and things that you’re doing on the first day, tend to follow you for the rest of your time at your workplace. I never really realized how true that was.

Especially when I was first starting out, it was easy to do things like joke, play around, and have fun. But if you become known as that, it may become difficult to actually be serious and work through more serious issues. People aren’t as likely to take you more seriously.

The same goes with things like your process. If people are expecting a certain process or a certain pace of your workout of you, and you decide to change that on a regular basis, you may start to feel unpredictable. The more you can start to make people feel comfortable around you and know what to expect, the better.

Last, remember why you were hired.

Like I said at the beginning of the show, it’s easy to come in on your first day and attempt to over-deliver. It just leads to almost killing yourself every day to keep an unattainable schedule. Before you know it, burnout sets in and you don’t enjoy your job anymore.

It’s okay to ease in and slowly work up to speed. Under promise and over deliver. As you start to get a little bit more up to speed, you can go from a crawl to a walk, Eventually you can work up to a pace you’re comfortable with. 

Ultimately, what your boss or your managers want is somebody who fits in as a team player who can do their job. As long as you’re willing to do that and still do a good job, it’s pretty likely that you’ll have a very happy career wherever you’re working.

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