Careers Advice

Your First Day on Placement Q and A

It can be daunting starting a new role, and you might avoid asking what seem like 'silly' questions on your first day. We address some common first day questions below to ease your worries - everyone asks them!

Published: 12/09/2016

Great news! You’ve passed the interview stage and secured a ScotGrad placement. However, your first day on placement is a bit like your first day at university – you’ve done your homework but you’re still unsure what to expect.

We recently held an event for students about to start a 12 week summer placement in various locations throughout Scotland. At a ‘Transitioning into the Workplace’ session delivered by the University of Edinburgh’s Career Service, students wrote down any queries they had relating to their first day on placement. We have listed some of these queries and their answers below.


Q. How early should I arrive if I have a 9am start?

A. Don’t leave it to the last minute to arrive at the workplace. Arrive early, but not too early – about 8.45am should do the trick. This will allow you time to collect your thoughts and get settled for starting at 9am, and also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role.


Q. What’s the general lunch etiquette?

A. It’s a safe bet to prepare a packed lunch for the first day. This will give you flexibility until you know the lunch routine. Most companies have tea and coffee making facilities but don’t assume the facilities are free. It’s a good idea to find out whether everyone contributes a set amount or if you have to pay per use before you start helping yourself to a quick cuppa!


Q. What’s the best way to ask for holidays?

A. You will be given an induction during your first few days to familiarise yourself with workplace and the employer’s policies. This is a great opportunity for you to ask questions about booking annual leave. You should also be given a copy of a Staff Handbook which will cover holiday entitlement, sick leave and time off for appointments, among other important topics.


Q. Is the dress code formal?

A. This will vary dependent upon the type of placement. It’s advisable to contact your employer prior to the start date to find out what the dress code is. It’s always best to dress up for the first day until you get a feel for the culture, and tweak as required.


Q. What should I do if my first week on placement isn't going well?

A. A new job requires time to adjust, and involves a lot of practice and learning. It’s normal to enjoy some tasks more than others but if you feel overwhelmed speak to your line manager in the first instance. It’s not easy to say “I need help” but by making your manager aware of this, you’ve taken the first step to finding a solution to your concerns. Remember, you can always contact the ScotGrad team at any point during your placement for a friendly ear!


Q. What should I expect in terms of socialising?

A. Try and make the effort to go to social functions whether it be after work drinks or a bite to eat. It will allow you to get to know your colleagues outside of the working environment - but remember, you are with colleagues so keep up the good behaviour!


After reading these tips you should have a good understanding of the workplace essentials to help your placement go smoothly from day one. Thought of a question we haven’t covered here? You can speak to your Careers Service for top tips and advice.

Good luck.