When starting your new position, there are some things you need to prepare for on your first day and even within the first week. Review this list for prep materials as well as information on workplace etiquette as it pertains to customer service, communication, and professional dress.
- Be prepared to meet many colleagues on your first day. Make sure to bring a notebook and pen to take notes because it is unlikely you will be able to remember everyone’s name after one day, but that’s okay! Do your best to establish a connection with people.
- Test out the clock-in system and be sure to ask any questions that you may have about using the clock-in system to document your time.
- Review your work station and be sure to ask questions if there is something you might need in order to be successful at your tasks (e.g., office supplies, phone, computer, business cards).
- Take some time to walk around the department to ensure you know where people and resources are located. For example, knowing where the break room and supply room are might be important areas to note.
- Make sure you understand the purpose of your position as it pertains to the goals of the organization as well as how the position fits into your academic and career plans.
- Review the position description, responsibilities, and expectations; make sure you keep printed copies and follow up with any questions you have about your roles and responsibilities.
- Review the pay schedule and ask questions about when and how you will be receiving your paychecks.
- Expect to review relevant policies and procedures appropriate for the first day (e.g., attendance policy, IU hour limitations).
- Write down any questions you have if you participate in training sessions during the first day. Follow up with your supervisor once the trainings are over (e.g., FERPA tutorial, sexual harassment).
- Discuss how you and your supervisor can both communicate effectively. Are there certain ways of communication, such as e-mail or in person, that questions should be asked? Does your supervisor have an open-door policy? What is his or her management style? Identifying these aspects can help you better understand how to approach your supervisor with questions and follow up.
- Identify colleagues who can serve as resources for you when questions arise.
- Begin to think about how your supervisor can support and play a part in your role as student first and employee second.
- Check in with your supervisor to let him or her know how your first day has gone; review the plan for the first week and ask any questions you may have.
- Address any pertinent work-study issues if your position is offset with Federal Work-Study Program funds. Make sure to discuss how you can track your award balance on your OneStart account. Also discuss at what point your supervisor would like for you to inform him or her that you are getting low on your funds ($500, $300, etc.).
- Ask questions and gather information on how the office or department fits into the structure and culture of the entire campus or organization.
- Study the position handbook and ask any remaining questions you may have (if you haven't already done so).
- Ensure you have received all policies and procedures relevant to you and the department.
- Review emergency procedures for the building and campus or organization and ask any questions you may have.
- Make sure you are provided with the process and details of how and when you will be evaluated in your position.
- Plan to meet directly with specific contacts that you will either be working frequently with or who can help you better understand how your position contributes to the overall department’s goals and mission; prepare any questions before these meetings to ensure they are productive and helpful.
- Continue discussing how you and your supervisor can continue effective communication; explore how you prefer to receive feedback, both positive and in areas for improvement.
- Work with your supervisor to identify areas that you want to grow in; research opportunities for trainings and professional development (e.g., Excellence in Professionalism, University Information Technology Services).
- Consider how this position is relevant to your academics and how you might be able to use work from your courses on the job.
- Check in with your supervisor at the end of your first week, reflect on the week, ask questions, and identify areas of performance you think you might need additional assistance with.
Workplace Etiquette and Customer Service
- Act in a mature and professional manner when interacting with clients and co-workers.
- Put yourself into the customers' position. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
- Be aware of your body language and nonverbal communication. Smile, sit up straight, and make eye contact. Pay attention for important details that could help you decide to whom they should be referred.
- Avoid using IUPUI-specific lingo or acronyms when dealing with customers outside of IUPUI.
- Ask questions if you don’t understand what the customer needs. You may need to obtain further information to determine the best resource.
- Keep commonly used resources nearby, such as commonly requested phone numbers, dates, or information specific to your site.
- Be accountable for the customers you assist. Return their calls in a timely manner and pass information along properly for follow-up. Be responsible for making sure each customer’s issue is resolved.
- Refer the customer to a staff member who knows more about where to refer the customer if you cannot answer the question. Never guess or make something up.
Difficult Customer Service Situations
- Listen to the customer and allow him or her to tell you the whole problem or concern before responding.
- Express empathy or regret when appropriate.
- Never get defensive or blame the customer; this will only make the situation worse.
- Attempt to resolve the situation. If that is not successful, refer the customer to your supervisor, but never argue with the customer.
- Offer several resolutions and let the customer choose one.
- Don’t make promises unless you are sure you can follow through.
- Refer a customer to your supervisor (if available) if the customer requests it. It is natural for the customer to want to speak to your supervisor to confirm the information given to him or her. You can also take the customer's contact information so that your supervisor can contact the customer later.
- Inform your supervisor after dealing with a difficult situation or angry customer, even if you feel you handled it appropriately.
- Ask your supervisor about the procedure for answering the phone at your site. If there is no specific protocol, answer the phone in a professional manner, stating the name of the organization, the department, and your name.
- Learn how to transfer calls to other staff members and to voice mail.
- Speak clearly at a normal volume and pace. If a customer is a non-native speaker, you may need to speak a little more slowly.
- Use conversation cues to let the customer know you are paying attention, such as “yes” and “okay.”
- Do not keep the customer on hold for more than a minute or two when resolving an issue. If it is going to take a while, ask the customer if he or she would prefer to hold or have you call back. If you are to return the customer's call, give him or her an approximate time frame in which you will call.
Written Communication Procedures
In many positions, you may be required to correspond via e-mail and written communication. Some tips to remember when corresponding in writing, such as e-mail, include:
- Address the individual formally as "Ms. Last Name," "Mr. Last Name," or "Dr. Last Name" (if you are on a first name basis with the recipient, it is acceptable to use their first name).
- Break up your text into paragraphs to ease the reading process.
- Insert bullets or indentations with a series of important steps or information.
- Use proper grammar and spelling (NEVER use “u” for “you”; texting language is not acceptable in professional communications).
- Encourage the recipient to reply with questions.
- Include an e-mail signature with your name and title when sending electronic correspondence.
Dress for Success
It is important to dress professionally when you are working. By taking care of your appearance, you show your supervisor, other office employees, and customers that you care about your position. Although all offices have different standards for what is considered acceptable dress for work, here a few tips that are applicable to all workplaces:
- Wear clothing free of rips, stains, and wrinkles.
- Choose modest clothing. Avoid low-cut shirts and jeans or clothing with language or graphics that could be construed as offensive or obscene.
- Style hair neatly.
- Wear your smile!
Remember that student employees who dress nicely stand out!
Gaining Skills as a Student Employee
Part-time employment should be a mutually beneficial endeavor. Even though you are getting paid for your work, there may be valuable learning experiences you are missing out on that will enhance your skills for future opportunities.
Review the How Do I Gain Experience
page to identify tips on talking with your supervisor about opportunities you may be able to take on that would enhance your skills for future opportunities.