Preparing for Your First Day: How to Stand Out While Settling In

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Your first day of an internship or first role in a new industry can be overwhelming. This doesn't mean you shouldn't speak up to showcase your talents and abilities. We talked to CEOs and industry experts on what advice they'd give their younger selves when starting out and give you tips on how to apply these on your first day. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They’ll be more concerned if you don’t. 

Blair Slater

“Number one - bring a notebook and write down any questions you must ask your supervisor at the end of the day. Questions are good, they demonstrate you’re keen to learn and have a positive impact. When I’ve hired graduates and they don’t have any questions, I get concerned!” 

Blair Slater, Portfolio Lead, Student Career-Ready Connections, UNSW Careers

In the moment it can be easy to forget that everyone in the office was also once starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Take opportunities such as Industry Placements with one of UNSW’s hundreds of industry partners as a great way to experience the workplace while being assured you’re there to learn, ask lots of questions and soak up as much as possible.  


Get to know people. 

Sapna Patel

“Take time to introduce yourself and get to know people. First impressions really count! I made an effort to talk to everyone I crossed paths with whether that was in the lift, near the photocopier etc; even if it was just to say “how is your day going”? As a result, I've formed deep professional connections and life-long friends.” 

Sapna Patel, Founder & CEO of ImmiAdvisor and UNSW Bachelor of Commerce/Law Alumna 

You’ll meet lots of people on your first day and a great way to start on the right foot can be as simple as greeting people and introducing yourself. With over 75% of UNSW students employed full-time four months after graduating1, finding opportunities such as Career Expos or student society speed networking events while you’re still at uni can be a great place to practice without the nerves of your first day.  


Bring your curiosity and a fresh perspective. 

Nicolas Chu

“I think it is a unique opportunity to gather as much as possible from others because the more you stay in the business, the more you understand the business, the less you are like this.” 

Nicolas Chu, Founder & CEO, Sinorbis and Professor of Practice, UNSW Business School UNSW AGSM MBA Alumnus 

Each opportunity you take to start a new internship or job allows you to dive into a workplace with fresh eyes. With opportunities for Work-Integrated Learning embedded throughout your degree, this is the best time to widen your understanding of where your field of study can take you. Don't be afraid to say ‘why not’ to new opportunities, your curiosity might lead you in unexpected directions and will go a long way in showing others you’re passionate about what you do. 


Set yourself up for success. 

Christina Chun

“Learn – about the organisation (vision, direction, key activities), it's people, it's partners, it's products and services – everything you can dig up to read and have discussions about. Which means asking lots of questions.” 

Christina Chun, Entrepreneur, Director at Walker Advisory UNSW Bachelor of Psychological Science & UNSW Master of Commerce Alumna

Every workplace conducts its induction process differently but giving yourself a head start by researching the company or taking the initiative to reach out to a new colleague can greatly assist your smooth transition into a new job. Attending UNSW’s Career ExposIndustry Connectionsemployer presentations or participating in the Career Ready Mentoring Program are great ways to connect with industry professionals to give you insights into how they operate before your first day. 

Even the most seasoned professionals will get a twang of nerves on their first day - it’s totally normal. But rest assured, with industry experience and connections throughout your degree you’ll be making your first day much easier.  

Start preparing for your first day with Work-Integrated Learning 


1UNSW received a 5-star rating for full-time employment with 77.9% of students employed full-time four months after graduating (2019/2020 Good Universities Guide)