09.02.2024 - Added new points, #6 and #7. Update grammars.

I still remember my first day at my job.

Man, the interview was nerve-wracking, now it’s the next phase.

The moment I entered the door, I felt overwhelmed and was sweating badly.

  • Hey, this senior has this fancy vertical monitor.
  • Look over there, they’re discussing some words I don’t have a clue about.
  • When can I start coding?
  • Can I do my best?

Anxiety arises, but at the same time, I felt comfort. I passed the interview phases successfully. I’m a bit relieved knowing they hired me in the first place!

(Perhaps I’ll write about interviews in some other entry.)

But with all that, your first day will always be nerve-wracking.

Whether you’ve just graduated, transitioning from another field, or trying to improve your life altogether, we all have our own personal goals.

After a few steps inside the office, I’m glad to know there are people smarter than me.

I can learn a lot from engineers all around me.

Above all, I’m surrounded by engineers, designers, and great leaders.

A proper team!

As someone who had always worked alone during my study (I’ve already freelanced while studying), this is a guaranteed mindset shift.

  • I need to learn how to collaborate.
  • I need to learn legacy code.
  • I need to understand our customers.

There’s more, and more, and more…

I’m f…, people gonna know I’m a nub and fake.

If you’re reading this and are expecting or experiencing your first day at your job, here are some tips that can help you.

  1. Be ready to learn.
  2. Be curious.
  3. Learn the product.
  4. Know others’ roles.
  5. Be careful with kiasu.
  6. Trust your team.
  7. Be open minded.

1. Be ready to learn

Your first day (and several weeks forward) is all about learning. Your manager is not expecting you to know all the gears and nuts in the company (yet, I’ll share on this in the future).

Get a notebook, open up your Google Docs, whatever, start jotting down.

I’d prefer if you have a notebook so you can carry it easily into verbal meetings, but the point is to always take notes.

Your first few days and weeks will be forgiving, trust me.

2. Be curious

Get to know your colleague next to you. If your team is virtual, schedule a 1:1 meeting and inform your colleague that you’d like to learn more about the team and the product you will be building together.

Ask around. Join the lunch.

But importantly, be curious.

It is alright to ask stupid questions, nobody cares if it makes you look stupid. People are glad to have a conversation, rather than a weird silent stare while scrolling your phone.

Spark a discussion.

3. Learn the product

Not just the programming language, but the business and domain language.

Your team will mention several keywords that will make you dazzle.

Hey, have you completed our XYZ feature? We need to discuss it soon.

Be the curious guy and ask what “XYZ” is. If they look busy, ask them to share a link you can open up later so that you’re not blocking their way.

Chances are, you won’t even write a single line of code on your first day.

Ultimately, our work revolves around solving someone’s problem or trying to make it better.

4. Know others’ roles

Since this is your first day, it’s good to know what each of your colleagues’ roles is. In a typical company, you would usually interact with:

  • Engineers/Developers
  • Product Manager
  • QA
  • Designer
  • Marketing
  • CXO

…and more. If you know their roles, you will know what to ask them.

5. Be careful with kiasu

Kiasu is a common term used in Malaysia and Singapore (you can Google its meaning).

You will probably feel bad once the time clocks into 6 PM and others are not moving yet.

Although I’m guilty of this myself, I’m always anxious. Why isn’t anyone moving yet?

Just move already.

Just pack up, stand up, and go home.

If you’re still feeling guilty, know that you’ve done your best during the working hours.

I always stayed back until 7 or 8 PM, but it backfires when I get tired, frustrated, and produce low-quality output.

Sure, feel free to stay back at times to socialize with your team or join some events, but keep it balanced for your mental health first.

6. Trust your team

If you’ve worked solo up until now, you need to start trusting your team.

It may looked easier to solve problem on your own, but you might end up hurting the product rather than solving problems.

You do not have to shoulder the whole thing on your own.

That’s what a team are for.

7. Be open minded

Amazon have a practice to respect older decision and architecture.

Certain decision was made with the resource, knowledge and N amount of engineers at that time.

Resist the urge to change the framework, or overhaul the whole thing.

If your team agrees, do proper research and analysis, share all the findings, figure out the pros and cons, and decide together as a team, not as individual.

On my first day, I was already given the task to migrate legacy PHP codebase for our RND team (a tough job for junior, on my first day. But I nailed it). During this period, I was mentored by my senior who brainstormed together with me for each of the decision.

It was a great experience. And I’m glad I opened my mind to learn.


Honestly, there’s a lot more points, but a reader can only focus for so long. I’ll write about them in another blog post or something.

But if you’re reading this and your first day is close, congratulations!

You’ve passed the hard part of the interview.

Now it’s time to grow with your team.

You deserve a pat on the back!


— 🟥