So it's your first week in a new design role, what do you do? What should you have prepared? Here's what I did my first week in a Head of Design role.

This past week was my first week as Head of Design at Northstar, and throughout the week I had to keep a lot in mind when starting this new role. I wanted to make a great first impression of course and set myself and the team up for success right from the start. To do so, there was a bit of preparation on my part to figure out what to do in my first week of a new design role.

I recorded all of what I tried to focus on during my first week down to 10 actionable tips that you can take with you into your first week. I of course advise you do your own preparation for the specific role you have, but this gives you a good place to start. Think about what specifics you need to perform your job at your best and try to start setting those up your first week.

  1. Foster transparent and vulnerable relationships. Have 1on1s (bring questions) with as many teammates as possible.
  2. Ask teammates what their biggest struggles are at the moment. Ask what the company is struggling with. Ask what they believe users’ biggest struggles are. This will help you learn where your focus should be and how you can start to help the team and product holistically.
  3. Tell others your strengths so they can know when to turn to you for help. Also, tell them your struggles so they know when they can help you as well.
  4. Take notes on what could be better during your first week to improve this process for future hires. Share this feedback with the right people to create accountability for these improvements.
  5. See what you can take off your manager’s plate now, in 30 days, and in 90 days. Create your growth and personal plan around these.
  6. Write down everything you learn and find out in your first week. This helps build documentation and context for you and others in the future.
  7. Be a sponge. Ask anything and everything that comes to mind. This is the time to get all your naive questions on the table.
  8. Asking questions helps current employees find existing holes in the company process or documentation.
  9. Learn who the decision-makers are for what parts of the company. Foster those relationships, patiently if you have to.
  10. Advise and give feedback when you can, kindly and respectfully.

Reminder, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s your first week after all! Do what you can, take breaks, and get yourself on a schedule that works for you. Your new team wants to set you up for success and is there to support you. Lean on your teammates and your manager when you need to, no need to act like you have it all figured out. We're all learning how to do our best in our job, and design jobs are no different.