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Nervous about starting a new job? Try these 5 tips for overcoming nerves.

A person wearing a blue suit carries a brown leather briefcase.

No matter how long you’ve been in the workforce, starting a new position can be nerve-wracking. If you’re nervous about starting a new job or internship, there are a few tried and true tactics to help you through, both before and during your big day. While it’s important to stay humble early in a job, remembering why you’re right for the position, and that you were the best candidate, is key.

Many different factors may play into first-day jitters. Maybe you’re worried your new teammates won’t like you. Maybe you’re taking on your first leadership role. Or maybe you’re secretly convinced you aren’t qualified or ready for the position. Whatever the reason, intense nervousness can put a damper on your excitement. Try these tips for overcoming those nerves in the days and weeks leading up to your first day: find someone to talk to about the new role, and your hesitations. Prepare by reading any materials you may have, choosing your clothing, and planning your route to work. And above all, set reasonable expectations for yourself. When you finally make it to the first day, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take notes so you don’t forget instructions, and be friendly to your new coworkers.


1. Find someone to talk to

Talking to someone else about why you’re nervous about starting a new job is a great way to calm yourself. This person doesn’t have to be someone who works in the same field as you, or a professional connection. Try to find someone who knows you well, like a friend or a family member. You could also set up a chat with one of your references, who know you’re qualified for the job and can probably give some great advice.

The point of these discussions isn’t necessarily to make a plan for everything that might go wrong on your first day. Instead, talking to someone who knows you well is a great way to boost your confidence. You’ll also be reminded of the great qualities that got you hired for the job. It’s also a good reminder that your friends and family will all still love and respect you, even if you make a mistake in the office.


2. Spend time preparing

In many things in life, the more prepared you are, the better you’ll perform. This can definitely be true when it comes to starting a new job. As a bonus, you’re likely to be less nervous if you know you’re prepared.

Preparing for an office job will likely look slightly different than getting ready to start a remote position. When heading to an in-office job, plan the route you’ll take on your first day, and time it to see how long it takes you during the morning rush hour.

If your onboarding takes place virtually, prepare your workspace so that you have a neat, comfortable space. This is particularly important during the first few days of a new job, because you’ll likely spend a lot of time on Zoom meetings, and you don’t want to be worried about your background.

Whether you’re remote or in-person, there are many ways to prepare yourself for a successful start. Make sure you’ve read over any documents or assignments your new manager may have sent you, and be prepared to ask any questions you have about them. If possible, spend some time looking at what your new team has been working on recently, similarly to how you’d prepare for an interview. You can even try to get to know a little about the teammates you’ll be working most closely with, which will make it easier to make a connection when you meet. Finally, prepare what you’re planning to wear on the first day in advance, and make sure to set an alarm that gives you a bit of extra time in the morning. You’ll go to bed the night before your first day knowing you’ll be prompt and well-dressed!


A neat workstation has a computer with a background that says "work hard anywhere"

3. Set reasonable expectations

The last thing to keep in mind before starting a new job is that not everything will be perfect. Know that going in, and set reasonable expectations for yourself upfront. You can’t expect that you’ll know everything, that you won’t have to ask questions, and that you’ll remember everyone’s names on the first day. Focus on what you can control. Consider setting goals such as getting to know more about your teammates, or feeling confident with any new platforms or software you have to use. If you’re nervous about starting a new job, setting reasonable, achievable expectations can help put things in perspective.


4. Take notes

It’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll remember and memorize everything you learn on your first day. Especially if you’re nervous about starting a new job, some things might go in one ear and out the other. The first few weeks of a new position are usually full of new information, and can even be overwhelming at times. To make sure you don’t forget anything important, take notes on a pad or your laptop. This is also a great way to keep track of questions that come up, so you can ask someone later.


5. Ask questions

Never be afraid to ask questions when starting a new job. It’s completely understandable that you don’t want people to think you’re underqualified or don’t know things. But everyone expects to answer questions on your first day! Asking those clarifying questions now will save you time and possibly even mistakes down the road in your new job. However, asking questions doesn’t just have to stop with your tasks and assignments. Asking your coworkers questions about themselves and their roles is a great way to break the ice. If you’re starting your new job virtually, you might not have as much face-to-face time. In that case, send a short email at the end of the day with any lingering questions. This is also a great time to thank people for their help during the day, and to affirm your excitement to join the team.



  1. Business time, by Marten Bjork on Unsplash
  2. Unsplash power, by Domenico Loia on Unsplash
Photos and blog by Maeve Allsup

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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