By Alissa Moore, Sr. SBA Loan Administrator.
First impressions are based on a wide range of characteristics including age, race, gender and physical appearance. Physical appearance gives us clear clues into a person’s personality without them ever having to speak or move. It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make a first impression. With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, and they often set the tone for the relationship that follows.
Making my First Impression
I was thinking about the first impression I was going to make on the first day of my new job at Core Bank. I would be a remote employee whose first impression would be critical, as I wouldn’t have physical day-to-day interaction with my co-workers.
I had packed a suitcase to travel from my home in Wisconsin to Core Bank’s headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. I had the perfect professional attire folded neatly in my suitcase and proceeded to check my luggage for my Sunday afternoon flight.
And so, it begins…
Apparently, the airport codes of OMA (Omaha) and OAK (Oakland) are too similar, and my luggage got to take a separate trip away from me! The airline explained that my luggage was accidentally sent to Oakland, CA and that I would receive it within 24 hours – by 9pm Monday NIGHT.
My first day with Human Resources was scheduled for 9am Monday MORNING and I was wearing a Nike sweatshirt, yoga pants and running shoes, with no spare clothes packed in my carry-on bag (rookie traveler mistake)!
I explained my situation to the airline, and they provided me with a $100 stipend to purchase any items I may need until my luggage arrived.
This was my first time in Omaha, Nebraska and I am terrible with directions – even within my hometown, let alone a new city! It was a Sunday night at 9pm (usually my bed-time) and I had to figure out where to go to purchase a NEW first impression outfit. I walked out the front door of my hotel and saw a discount clothing store – my immediate thought was that this was going to be a scene straight out of What NOT to Wear.
A $100 stipend doesn’t go far when you need everything – shirt, pants, undergarments, shoes, shampoo, hairbrush, makeup, etc., even at a discount store! I was pleasantly surprised with the selection of business attire they had on display (I still wear the pants and shoes I bought that day; the shirt and sweater didn’t make it past one wash.) After about an hour of shopping, I was ready to check out – $110.58! Although I was $10.58 over, I was proud of myself for staying right around my stipend.
I was extremely self-conscious the next morning when meeting with HR, even though they were aware of my predicament. I was also self-conscious as I proceeded to take a tour of the building and meet my new co-workers. Was I making a positive first impression? Was I coming across friendly and knowledgeable? Did I appear to be someone who could handle the rigors of working remotely? Then I was introduced to the President and CEO of Core Bank – John Sorrell, and my nerves hit an all-time high.
My nerves hit an all-time high when I was introduced to John Sorrell.
I was tired from travel, nervous about starting a new job and sporting 100% discount attire, but it was time to turn this into a great first impression! I had a story to tell, obstacles I had overcome, all while remaining positive – a “roll with the punches” kind of attitude; a bit of self-deprecating humor coupled with an “I can handle whatever life throws at me with a smile on my face” demeanor hopefully would leave a lasting, positive impression. John was warm and welcoming and seemed to enjoy the story of my journey to Omaha and even shared with me a few stories of his own!
My luggage did arrive late Monday night and I learned a few lessons from this experience:
#1. First impressions aren’t based upon appearance alone, but also by your demeanor, body language and ability to connect with others.
#2. Embrace challenges and remain positive.
#3. Always pack your “must have items” and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage.