Before You Arrive

Before you arrive for first day on the job

We bet you’re as excited as we are for your first day at Columbia University. There are things you can to do prepare—and start the onboarding process—before arriving on campus. Most importantly, bring your personal identification documents to complete required paperwork.

Within the Welcome to Columbia webpages, there are a wealth of resources available to make your transition easier. And your manager and Human Resource (HR) staff members will be ready to provide guidance throughout your exciting new career, especially in the beginning.

If you’d like to get a head start with onboarding, complete section 1 of the Form I-9. Within the first 3 business days from your start date, you must go in person to an I-9 center to complete section 2. 

If you are a Student Casual Employee, additional information can be found on the Student Casual Employees page

Prepare for Your First Day

Your hiring manager is your first point of contact when you join Columbia. Some departments have an HR representative who will reach out to you before you arrive. Otherwise, go to Ask HR with any questions:

Ask HR

Phone: 212-851-2888


  • Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Every employee is part of an employment group that determines how your position is managed in Columbia University systems, including benefits and salary grades. Check your offer letter or ask your hiring manager if you are unsure of your employment group.

Find out more: What Is My Employment Group?

Identification Documents

A portion of your first day will be spent completing necessary forms that verify your employability and get you into the Columbia system so you can be paid and receive benefits. To complete the required forms, you must bring identification documentation.

Please refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for acceptable documents you can bring to confirm your identity and authorization to work.


If you have completed any portion of your I-9 and E-verify or tax forms (W-4 form, IT2104 form or IT2104.1 form), bring and give them to your hiring manager or HR representative.

Water Bottle and/or Coffee Mug

Reusable drinking containers are part of the Sustainable Columbia initiative. You can help make a difference—and be prepared if your work location's pantry is free of disposable cups—by bringing your own reusable container.  

A Columbia University ID card is required to enter most buildings on campus, ride the University’s shuttles and access benefits like discounted tickets. Your manager will submit the necessary paperwork so you can obtain an ID. Until you have an ID card, to enter a building you may need to present a valid photo ID and provide the name and phone number of your manager.

Every Columbia employee has a University Network ID (UNI). Your UNI, which will include your initials and random numbers, is used to provide access to the University's systems and services. Your manager will work with Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) to create your UNI.


Faculty and staff arrive on campus daily in a variety of ways—walking, taking the subway or buses, driving and transit connections from railways and buses outside of Manhattan. Planning ahead for your daily commute should include not only the travel time, but walking to your campus building from subway stations, shuttles stops or parking garages that may be several blocks away.

Columbia is spread across several campuses with interconnecting shuttles. Your office may be in one building, while another colleague could be across campus or on another campus. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with Columbia’s expansive campuses.

Guides to help you determine your best commute: