The first day in a new role can be nerve-wrecking for most people, however it’s particularly daunting starting a new career in a sector in which you may not have worked. I recently contacted a few Trainees who started in their first cosec role over the past year and asked them to reflect on their first day with the hope that their answers may provide some reassurance to those first entering the field. This is what they had to say:
How did you prepare for your first day?
Trainee 1: Outside of reconfirming my knowledge of the company gained during my initial application, I actively look to avoid preparing too much. The benefit of approaching your first day with no preconceptions, over readiness or set ideas improves how much you will learn on your first day tenfold.
Trainee 2: I read articles from my company’s website and also DMJ articles! I tried to connect with as many people as I could on LinkedIn as well.
Trainee 3: I dressed in my best suit and took a notepad and pencil. I also went with the will to do whatever work was sent my way.
Did this preparation help you have a successful first day?
Trainee 1: The minimal preparation I did prior to the first day, provided myself with enough knowledge and confidence to have an instant impact whilst also allowing the freedom and capacity to take on new information during the day.
Trainee 3: I may have prepared too much but that didn’t hurt. I was told that I didn’t need to dress as formally as I did for the office when there were no meetings, but the first impression was appreciated. A notepad and pencil was also provided (as well as a laptop). Being eager to do the work is all I needed!
What was the first thing you did when you arrived at the office on your first day as a Trainee Company Secretary?
Trainee 1: As with most roles, and most first days I spent a good couple of hours navigating the complexities of first day IT setup.
Trainee 2: I met with the team and got all my logins set up. I mainly got broken into lots of early training and asked lots of questions.
How did you feel at the end of your first full day as a Trainee Company Secretary?
Trainee 1: Optimistic – the conversations throughout the day, alongside the confirmation of the scope of my role filled me with confidence that I could make the role what I wanted and have a genuine impact at all levels of the business.
Trainee 2: Like I’d made the right choice for sure. If a bit tired!
Is there anything you wish you knew prior to your first day that would have made a significant difference to your first day on the job?
Trainee 1: The provision of key terminology for the role would have assisted in the navigation of some of the initial conversations.
Trainee 3: Nothing. But a useful thing to know in my first few weeks is that there is no need to rush through things. It’s better to get the work done late but well, than rush and get things wrong. Of course, manage expectations and keep up communication so people will know they will need to expect something later than originally agreed.
The underlying thread here seems to be that established governance teams understand that there is a learning curve when joining the profession and, having gone through it themselves, are willing to give new team members time to ease into the role. While preparation for anything is important, perhaps going into your new governance role with an open mind ready to sponge up the information provided is more useful. Based on my findings, I recommend focusing your preparation on listening well, organisation and making sure that you’re able to build on the information provided to you over the first weeks on the job.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a company secretary, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with a member of the team here at DMJ and keep an eye out for our insight days throughout the year!