What to Do Before Starting Your First Job
Ready to join the working world? If you’re gearing up for your first job post-graduation, you might be feeling mixed emotions. There’s excitement. After all, years of education and experience have led you to this point.
Then there’s the nerves. Change can be difficult. When it comes to starting a new job, especially if it is your first professional job, you’re headed into relatively unknown territory.
But there are ways to prevent the nerves from outweighing the excitement. With a little planning you’ll be better prepared to start your new job off on the right foot.
Researching the Company
Ideally, you did a bit of research on the company before you accepted the position. Now that you’ve got an official start date, it’s time to consider doubling down. Digging into the company culture and becoming familiar with the products or services offered by your soon-to-be employer can be a big help.
Consider doing a deep dive and learning about the history of the company. Is there any information about the direction the company is headed in or any future plans that have been released?
Researching the broader industry could also be beneficial. Are there any general trends that are worth noting? Who are their biggest competitors?
It’s also helpful to take a look at your social network. Do you know anyone who works at the company you could reach out to? Perhaps there is a friend-of-a-friend who might be willing to chat with you before your first day. Getting some insider information on the company could help relieve that anticipatory anxiety. Plus, you may even have a familiar face to look out for.
Doing a Dry Run of Your Commute
One thing that can set your day off to a bad start? Getting lost on your way to your very first day at the office. Stressing about whether or not you’re gonna make it on time for your first day is no fun.
Minimize potential tardiness by doing a test run of your new commute. Whether it’s a drive, walk, or bus and/or train ride, testing out the commute in advance means you’ll get all of your second guessing and missed turns out of the way before you’re on the clock.
Planning for the Day Ahead
One way to destress your morning routine is to prepare everything the night before. It can be as easy as portioning out coffee so you don’t have to think about it when you wake up, or planning your breakfast so it’s ready to go when you are.
Avoiding the frantic search for your favorite button down the morning of your first day could also lessen the tension, so consider choosing your clothes for the big day in advance. This way you won’t spend precious time in the morning scrambling to find a presentable outfit.
Erring on the side of professional attire rarely hurt anyone, especially if you’re not sure what the vibe at the office is like. As you get to know the company culture, you can adjust your outfit choices. If you find your closet lacks certain professional attire you could consider building a wardrobe to fulfill the demands required by your profession.
If you’re a go-getter, you might even plan outfits for your entire first week. You might be overwhelmed, and having outfits at the ready (ahem, clean and ironed) will eliminate at least one item from your to-do list.
Gathering the Appropriate Paperwork
Before you head into the office, you’ll usually get an email from HR with a bit of information about your first day. It’s worth reading through it thoroughly and gathering all the appropriate paperwork. Clearly organize the necessary documents and pack it in your bag the night before.
Getting to Know the Team
Interpersonal relationships are hugely important for most companies. You will likely be collaborating with your coworkers on a daily basis. So it might help to prepare to be on your professional and social A Game on your first day.
Outside of any interactions during the interview process, your first day will likely be your first opportunity to meet your coworkers and boss. Be prepared to listen and be engaged during orientation and as you get your first assignment. Asking questions so you fully understand your responsibilities will help you be ready to get to work when needed.
Updating (Or Creating) Your Financial Plan
And since the life change doesn’t end there it might be time for you to consider making a few financial changes.
Refining Your Budget
A new job likely means a new salary, which means it may be a good time to update your budget. Consider making adjustments based on your new salary. If you don’t have an existing budget in place, this could be a welcome opportunity for you to add some structure to your spending and saving.
If you moved to a new city for the job or are planning on moving into a new apartment now that you’re working full time, it could be wise to start planning for those expenses now.
Planning for Future You
As you dig into all the details of your new job (and are establishing your new budget), consider looking at the options the company offers for retirement savings. Does the company offer a 401(k)? And if they do, do they offer matching contributions?
Saving for retirement might not be on your radar if you’re getting ready for your first job out of college, but it’s never too early to start prepping for your future. If your employer offers matching contributions, it could make sense to take advantage of the 401(k) plan, at least until you reach the matching limit.
As a newly minted professional, it’s possible you have student loans lingering. If that’s the case, part of your financial strategy may include figuring out if your current repayment plan is the best one for you—or if there’s one out there that might be a better fit.
The repayment plan you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including the types of student loans you have, the amount of debt, and your income and profession. If you have federal student loans, you might be eligible for repayment options including income-driven repayment plans, federal student loan consolidation, or loan forgiveness.
Another option is student loan refinancing. For qualifying borrowers, refinancing could offer you better terms, which could potentially lead to long-term savings. But refinancing won’t be for everyone. When federal loans are refinanced they become private loans and are no longer eligible for federal repayment plans or protections, such as Income Based Repayment or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
If paying off student loan debt quickly is a priority for you, consider including overpayments into your budget or funnel any windfalls (like a signing bonus) toward your student loans.
It’s also worth seeing if the company you’re starting with offers assistance to employees repaying student loans. A growing number of companies are offering programs to help their employees with their student loans. If yours is one of them, find out how you can get some help repaying yours.
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If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.
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Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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