Preparing to start work Getting a good start to your working life with a company can make all of the difference. You will need to plan in advance to make the transition into work easier. Expand First impressions are very important, so put time into creating a positive impression You may want to think about the following things before you start work. Getting to your workplace As well as the cost of travel, you also need to plan your journey and routes to work. Traffic can be very different in the rush hour, so you might want to consider a practice run so you know what time you might need to leave home and also what time you’re likely to get home at the end of the day. Lunches or other breaks Decide whether you’re going to take lunch in, eat in the canteen or buy food locally. Make this decision based on the local facilities available and what you prefer to eat. Find out whether the people you will be working with take their own lunch in, go out to a shop or to a canteen to buy lunch. It can be helpful to go with them and choose something you like to eat. If you have a restricted diet, take in something you like from home until you have worked out the food options Budgeting Most jobs pay weekly or monthly in arrears which means you may have to work for up to a month before you get paid Make sure you have enough money to pay for the following: Travel to and from work. Make sure you work out how much it will cost to get to work and home again at the times you need to be there. If you are doing shift work, the cost and time taken to travel at night can be different if there is not public transport at that time. Meals. You will need money to pay for food to make meals at home, or that you buy while out at work. Pension. It is compulsory for your employer to sign you up for a workplace pension scheme. Money will be deducted from your pay and placed into your pension fund. In some roles you are able to pay an additional proportion of your earnings into a personal pension, that will give you more money in retirement than the standard government pension. You won’t pay tax on any earnings invested into your pension, but your weekly or monthly pay will be lower. Clothing Different types of clothing are appropriate for different work environments You may need to buy clothes for your new role if you don’t already have some that are suitable, or if the company doesn’t provide a uniform. Having secured the role, you’ve probably met some people who work there and seen the workplace, so will have an idea of the types of clothes that are suitable for that job. It’s important to get clothes that fit you well and that meet your sensory requirements. Some stores have a ‘quiet shopping hour’ (usually early on a midweek morning). Sone stores may offer a personal shopper service, where someone who works there can help you find what you need, based on your description or pictures of the sort of things that other people are wearing at your new place of work. If you need help to make alterations, the shop may be able to do it themselves (e.g. shortening trousers to suit). If not, a dry cleaner or tailor shop will be able to do alterations. Uniforms Some employers provide uniforms for their staff. Have your measurements handy so that you get a uniform which fits well. Comfort is key. It helps if you can wear the same as other people doing the same sort of job as you, but you may need to find alternatives to meet your sensory needs Sensory adjustments to clothing Many autistic people struggle with fabric textures and fit. If you cannot wear an item of clothing without being deeply uncomfortable, think about what alternatives you might like to try - you can then ask for these as reasonable adjustments. Stick as closely as you can to the items other people at the same level are wearing whilst being comfortable. Changes you could make include: One size looser in the same item Wearing tight layers under your clothes, such as a vest, or compression shorts for example Swapping a formal tailored jacket for a softer material in a similar cut Swap an item of stiff or itchy material for a softer version of the same item Choosing brands which have printed labels, rather than itchy fabric ones or cut out the labels once you are sure they fit Wearing a hat and/or tinted glasses to reduce visual glare Wearing comfortable shoes Managing anxiety and avoiding burnout You are likely to be feeling very nervous in the run up to starting a new job, so make sure you manage other demands carefully to avoid burnout. Reduce unnecessary activities that deplete your energy and increase time with your passionate interests and other activities which make you feel good. Make sure you also get plenty of rest. Personal hygiene Being clean and smelling good is important to everyone in a working environment. People find it hard to talk about personal hygiene issues and may hesitate to mention it to you. Make sure that you and your clothes are washed frequently and consider using a deodorant. The job itself Before you start, you may want to refer back to the advert or job description to remind yourself what you’re going to be doing and what’s important to your employer. You can keep researching once you have the role if it helps you relax and prepare for the challenge ahead. You might want to use the internet to learn more about the company, its customers and its employees – your future colleagues. Think about learning more about the role, so that you can be ready to make a great first impression.