Colin Bacon, web developer.

First day on a contract - what every developer needs to know

First day on a contract - what every developer needs to know

Making a good impression on the first day of a new job is super important. Starting as a contractor comes with the expectations of professionalism and self-sufficiency.

Making sure you are prepared for that first day and ready to hit the ground running, will help to avoid any of those embarrassing school boy moments. Here a list of the first day essentials.



A well spec'd laptop machine is essential. This is your work horse, without it you ain't going to get much done. Make sure it is recent and capable of doing the job. You don't want to be pulling out a tired old machine, twice the size of the available space on your desk, with a fan noisier than the music on the radio.

Find out before you start whether you will be provided with a machine. Even if you are, still bring your laptop with you. Rarely are machines ready to use the moment you arrive, if you have your own you can start working straight away. Plus laptop's are always handy to take to meetings, for hot desking and pair programming.

Have I said enough? Bring a laptop!

Keyboard, mouse & leads

keyboard and mouse

Working in a new environment should feel like a home from home. Bring all your loved and familiar equipment with you. Choosing a mouse and keyboard is like choosing a wand in Harry Potter, it's a personal choice. Don't settle for some crappy equipment that's going to slow you down, come prepared.

Phone ahead and find out if there is a monitor for you to use. If so what connection does it need. Get yourself sorted with the correct lead to connect your laptop to the monitor. No scratching around asking every Tom, Dick and Harry if they have that special adaptor that only your laptop uses. Been there done that, won't do it again.


A headset

It's fairly typical that you could be working in a distributed team or company and that some of your day to day meetings could be through Skype/Hangouts etc. Make sure you have some kind of headset with you. You don't want to have to go on the scrounge for someone's headset to borrow.

Second laptop charger

A charger

Take a charger with you that you can leave at work. That way you have one at home and one at work. There's nothing worse than turning up on Monday morning having left your charger at home. Trust me!


computer screen with code on it

Having the right tools for the job applies not only to hardware but software also. Make sure you have the software you require and the appropriate licences. Check with your employer beforehand and find out what you need.

Notepad and pen


Something to take notes with is an essential for any professional. Whether it's taking notes in meetings, writing action points, or drawing diagrams. Sometimes only a pen and paper will cut it.

Test devices

laptop, tablet and phone

Whatever it is that you're working on, there's a good chance that it's going to be used on a multitude of different devices. To ensure you've done your work to a high standard you need to be testing it. Sure you can test on simulators but nothing beats a real device. Make sure you've got all bases covered.


First impressions count, and this checklist will make sure you don't trip up on day one. What are your work essentials? Would you add anything to the list? Let me know via Twitter.