For counselors and companies: the importance of the first day on the job

People talk a lot about how employees need to make a great impression on the boss when they begin a new job.  I think it's even more important for the organization to make a great first impression on the new employee.

The last job I had before I started Collegewise got off to a bad start.  I'd moved across the country to take the job, and when I arrived for my first day of work, my boss was in meetings the entire day.  I had no computer, no phone, and no access pass to get to the meeting rooms on the second floor.  It took me almost a week to get all of the things I needed to actually start doing any work. 

I had been excited about the opportunity, but the first day–and the entire first week–showed me that I was working for a disorganized company and a frenzied boss.  That first week killed my excitement and any motivation I had.  So it's not surprising that we do first days a lot differently at Collegewise. 

New employees at Collegewise arrive to work with everything they need to get started.  The desk has been stocked with office supplies.  The computer and phone have been set-up.  The office is decorated college posters, and we get them a coffee mug from their collegiate alma mater. 

They have keys and a corporate card, and their business cards have already been printed.  We have all the forms they need to fill out ready.  We give them a Collegewise jacket and make sure their fridge is stocked with water and drinks.   

We give them our version of an employee handbook we call "Life at Collegewise" where we talk about everything from how to expense a trip to where the best lunch spots are near the office.  We proudly announce their arrival to all of our current families so they know who the new face in the office is.  Then we start them on our 40-hour training program to learn how we do college counseling.  And we've written a 14-page guideline called "Preparing for Your New Employee's First Day" to help our other offices do the same for their new employees. 

When you make your new employees feel welcome and give them everything they need to start doing good work, it shows them how much you pay attention to details.  But more importantly, it communicates that you expect big things from them, that you have expectations that they'll start making contributions right away.  Now any good employee will want to show you that your expectations haven't been misplaced.

Sure, it can't stop there.  You've got to make sure your employees have great second, and third and 303rd days, too.  But while you can't control everything that will happen during an employee's tenure, you have total control over the first day.  So why not make the most of it.