By Allison Duncan

Published on September 24, 2015

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Photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

It’s no secret that first days at a new job (or in the real world altogether) are full of unknowns – two of which being: what’s an essential for day one and what’s most important to remember? We asked a few of our favorite #GirlBosses for the answers… and we’re sharing!

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Photography by Jude Al-Khalil

Jude Al-Khalil,

 FOUNDER OF 
BIKYNI

Something to write with and take notes on should be obvious. I think it’s nice to have something at your desk that might be a conversation starter or that makes you more approachable to others. I happened to have a box of
my favorite candy
on my desk on the first day of a job (would look great in a dish like
this
) and several people walked by to ask if they could have a piece. This led to conversations with each of them and was a great way to start getting to know my colleagues.

Put your phone away. Everyone, including me, is so attached to their phones these days. If you’re starting a new job, you should be interested and checking your phone constantly is not the way to show that. Even if you have nothing to do those first few days, try to minimize looking at your phone.

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Photography by KELLI HALL
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Photography by Amber Venz Box

Amber Venz Box,

 COFOUNDER OF 
REWARDSTYLE
 & 
LIKETOKNOW.IT

Your first day can always be a bit overwhelming because of the high influx of information given to you from your superior and fellow employees. For me, writing everything down is a must! Come prepared with notebooks and your favorite pens so you can take in all of the details in a timely manner. I love these options 
here
 because they are a true reflection of my personality. Notebooks with little details can definitely serve as great conversation starters with your new colleagues.   

Take advantage of the experienced leadership around you and proactively learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask your superiors to lunch or coffee or to ask them for suggestions, especially when it comes to strategy. By engaging with leadership, you will be top of mind with them when new opportunities arise.

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Photography by katie mitchell
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Photography by Elizabeth Cutler & Julie Rice

Elizabeth Cutler & Julie Rice

, COFOUNDERS OF 
SOULCYCLE

ELIZABETH –

A great attitude and a notebook. Starting a new job can be overwhelming – notes remind you!

Focus on doing your job well, be a great co-worker and manage up. Whatever you can do for your team or boss by taking the time to know them, how they work and anticipating their needs makes your work invaluable. You also learn more about the business you are in.

JULIE –

Keep a few bottles of water on your desk. Hydrating is super important and during those first few days when you are running around without a preset schedule, it is great to have water you can just grab so there is no need to stop!

Listen. Take the first few weeks to listen to what co workers say. Take notes in meetings, learn, take it all in.

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Photography by Marissa Cox via Rue Rodier
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Photography by Micaela Erlanger

Micaela Erlanger

, FASHION STYLIST,  
MICAELA ERLANGER.COM

I always keep an inspirational quote on my desk. It keeps my mindset in check and always gives me a positive outlook for the day.

Make yourself invaluable and do it with a smile on your face, even if it means showing up early and staying late.

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Photography by Mary Farrow

Mary Farrow

, FOUNDER & CEO OF 
GRAMSLY

Definitely bring a notebook and pen on the first day. Take lots of notes and learn as much as you can in the beginning. Every girl should also have at least one great tote bag. They’re so versatile – I use mine as a purse and laptop bag and also as luggage for weekend trips away.

Execution is everything! Look for ways to excel at your job, solve problems, and gain new skills that aren’t part of your basic tasks. The people who get things done are the ones that get promoted.

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Photography by Raquel Bianca
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Photography by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin


NEW YORK TIMES
 BESTSELLING AUTHOR, 
EMILYGIFFIN.COM

A day planner or agenda. I know these days most people have electronic calendars, but there is something so satisfying and inspiring about an old-school paper calendar. My favorites are Emily Ley’s
Simplified Planner
and Kristy Dickerson & Jenny Grumbling’s
Start Planner
, but there are so many great ones. They really do help you stay organized, and it won’t hurt when your boss spots it open on your desk, either!  

Punctuality. It not only shows that you’re dependable but also that you genuinely care about your work. My assistant is never, ever late, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that about her

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Photography by Amy Jain & Daniella Yacobovsky

Amy Jain & Daniella Yacobovsky

, CO-FOUNDERS OF 
BAUBLEBAR

A pretty jar filled with candy. New environments can be intimidating! There is no better way to meet everyone quickly than by offering a sweet treat to those passing by.

Always keep a notebook and pen handy – there is no inconvenience to keeping one close, and it will keep you well-prepared.

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Photography by Camille Simmons
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Photography by Kellee Khalil

Kellee Khalil

, FOUNDER & CEO OF 
LOVER.LY

This is definitely more holistic for me: a 
cute notebook
 and a water bottle. The notebook conveys that you’re confident, organized, and ready to get started. As for the water bottle, I always keep one at my side during the day to stay refreshed, healthy, and laser-focused. Even if it means an extra trip to the bathroom, bringing your best self to the job, every day, calls for an in-check mind and body.

My best advice is to always be the one that goes above and beyond to show initiative and willingness to work WITHIN a team. If you take the time to raise your hand, and jump in when it’s needed (even for cases outside of your comfort zone), you’ll always be learning and growing a more well-rounded skill set, and this is a tremendous asset. Also, don’t forget to breathe. It’s the simplest reminder but probably the most important.

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Photography by Stephanie Kaplan Lewis

Stephanie Kaplan Lewis

, CO-FOUNDER, CEO & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF 
HER CAMPUS

A cute water bottle or tumbler! It’s so easy to get dehydrated when you’re bogged down at your desk all day and forget to drink so having a cute water bottle that sits next to your computer will remind you to keep guzzling. I have 
this one
 from the Her Campus Shop on my desk at all times.

Write everything down! Take copious notes throughout your training so that you don’t have to ask anyone to repeat anything they’ve already told you how to do. Some companies are great about having manuals and instructions for new employees but others are not, so be sure to take your own notes during all those training meetings (which means you probably need a cute notebook as well!).

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Photography by Aliza Licht

Aliza Licht,

AUTHOR OF 
LEAVE YOUR MARK

Keep an inspiring notepad on your desk. I love 
this one
 that literally reminds you to have a brilliant idea. After all, the email inbox can be so daunting that you kind of have to remind yourself to be innovative!

Get to know the players so you can learn how to play the game. Navigating office politics is sometimes more important than having the skill set. If you can’t learn to work with all different types of people, it really doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do.

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Photography by caitlyn wilson
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Photography by Rosie O’Neill

Rosie O’Neill,

CO-FOUNDER OF 
SUGARFINA

Candy! It’s an instant icebreaker and a quick way to make new friends — plus, it’s a great pick-me-up for that afternoon slump. My two favorites that I keep on my desk are 
Champagne Bears
 and 
Sugar Lips
. People visit my office a lot!

Manage up. Learn what’s important to your new boss and how to “speak their language.” Are they data driven? Do they prefer in-person conversations over email? Getting in sync with your manager translates into a better working relationship and more opportunities and responsibility coming your way.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge
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Photography by Tracy Sun

Tracy Sun,

CO-FOUNDER OF 
POSHMARK

Flowers and a really awesome notebook. Your first day can be pretty overwhelming. Even if you’re tech-savvy, having something physical for quick note-taking will help you be prepared no matter what is thrown at you.

Seek to understand. When you start a new job, there’s this notion that you want to hit the ground running and make a good impression. I recommend giving yourself a moment to truly understand the world around you before you start running.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge
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Photography by Victoria Tsai

Victoria Tsai,

FOUNDER & CEO OF 
TATCHA

A notebook to capture the deluge of information that comes your way on day one.

Develop a personal rapport with people across the company and at different levels of the organization. It makes work more fun and can make getting things done a lot easier.

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Photography by chriselle lim
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Photography by Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe,

STYLIST, EDITOR & DESIGNER,
RACELZOE.COM

A chic notepad and pen are pretty on your desk and help you always be ready to write things down – especially if your boss says something you need to follow-up on. Mints because fresh breath is always key. And an eco water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day and help our planet.

Always smile, stay positive and don’t let anyone think you are nervous or can’t do something. Use your resources to figure it out afterward, and always do it with a smile.

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Photography by alli webb

Alli Webb,

FOUNDER OF 
DRY BAR

Her A-game — and also a super cute notebook to take exceptional notes. Love 
this one
 from Sugar Paper.

Soak it all in! Less talking, more listening.