You might recall I wrote about my 2-month workiversary back in January. Well, Happy Unbirthday to me: 6 months seemed like a good time to follow that up.
It’s been a crazy ride so far. Let’s review the timeline:
Month 1: November-December
My first month is perfect and I cannot believe my luck. I wouldn’t change literally anything - either at the time, or looking back.
- My manager is only made a lead the day I start, so we get to figure out our employee/manager relationship from scratch - I love it.
- My team have been expecting me and my skip-level is psyched to have me on board. He’s been emailing me taunting me with things being tented until I start, and I’m excited to get into it.
- My 6-pack workspace has 3 girls and 3 guys, and there’s a good mix of people on my level and above - I have people to emulate for both short-term and long-term growth, and it seems achievable.
- I’m given some cool starter projects specifically designed to ramp me up, and I sit next to an awesome mentor who’s always happy to help me out.
Month 2: December-January
- I break the build for the first time, and am correspondingly given the pink pony of shame. #FeelsBad.
- A few of us stay up til 3am to get something ready for our All-Hands the next day. Working hard and late in a group is a super good feeling, and something I’d be willing to do more of.
- Our All-Hands is super inspiring and I meet a lot of interesting people on my wider team. They run a selfie contest that I win, so I can officially say I get paid to take selfies.
- We’re officially reorganized; my manager becomes my peer, my skip-level my manager and I get a new skip-level.
- My mentor leaves the company :(
- I get more comfortable contributing to the codebase and I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve been given - it’s allowing me to learn/grow, but still useful and at a level I can make progress on.
Month 3: January-February
- My manager and I have a great 1:1 - we have a super good vibe and I find it easy to talk to him about my career and what the best choices are for me.
- I pretty much have it down who will want to weigh in on different questions, and who the best person to ask is for things like codebase style vs COM vs the system design
- My manager moves teams, and so my previous manager steps up to be acting-manager. Not a whole lot changes, but it feels like we’re in limbo.
- My favorite person to ask questions to moves teams to work on a passion project.
- I get a sizeable ~month-long project to work on and check-in. Tangible achievements are super helpful for learning and self-esteem; I start to feel like I know my way around the codebase and understand most of the choices involved.
- I start going to Women-in-Analog lunches, and it’s nice to meet other women and hear about their stories.
Month 4: February-March
- My manager officially makes my acting-manager a lead again, but also moves me out to report directly to him. I have a new skip-level, and a whole new group of people to learn.
- We move buildings to sit with the other half of our team in an open-plan area. Our snack-bar is now an entire kitchenette area. We get to do the whole “I’d love to show you around but fingerprint scanners, so…” routine. #TooCool4Skool.
- I’m given some awesome (unrelated) work to do, although it doesn’t involve checking in code and does involve a lot of me not-knowing-what-I’m-doing. Concrete achievements are not the name of the game.
- I have to explain to my manager how exhausting it is to be constantly ramping up - there’s a lot of #NoShame involved, and not allowing yourself to feel bad even though you don’t know much and have to constantly ask questions.
- I figure out who on my team to ask questions to - especially the guy who writes tools in his free time. An exec says he always puts his best people on a team onto tools, and I understand why.
- I get given a mentor, but neither of us really knows what we want out of the partnership. I realise I want a mentor who can tell me why I want a mentor.
- I discuss with my manager how our re-org was handled. Giving feedback is terrifying but sort of rewarding? I need to teach my body that fight-or-flight is not a useful response to stressful people-interactions.
Month 5: March-April
- Everybody is in constant panic mode to prepare for our big developer conference. A bunch of people are working weekends, and our PMs are talking about enforcing it.
- I start writing down the notable things I achieve each day, to show myself that I’m doing useful things even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
- I have to learn to just go home when I know I’m not helpful, even if it feels bad and potentially looks bad. It’s exhausting either way - staying and feeling useless, leaving and feeling guilty.
- My part of the chaos finishes, so it’s nice to see a concrete achievement. I get to work on a project that affects other teams and involves checking in code again, which is exciting.
- The only other girl (who happens to be the other new-grad) moves teams. I’m happy that she’s found what she’s passionate about, but sad to see her go.
- We start doing official weekly team lunches. I like a lot that my manager reacts to feedback, and I think these will be good for team culture.
- My manager asks if I want to attend MS Build. I am ridiculously surprised (and a little ecstatic).
Month 6: April-May
- I finally start reading the C++ book I was given at the start (“You don’t have to read it, it’s sort of whatever, but we have to give it to you”). This book is awesome! I wish they’d told me to read it.
- I help out at MS Build. This is the greatest week I can remember. We have awesome hoodies.
- My manager asks me to takeover a project with super visible impact (hello lots of meetings). I’m excited, but it makes for more draining incompetent-feeling ramp-up time.
- I start properly reading through code reviews that people send out. I wish I’d had the importance of this impressed upon me earlier.
- I ask my manager for a mentor to teach me about people management. I’d potentially like to grow into that, and I’d like to prepare for it in advance - I’d like to minimise the impact on others of being new to a role like that.
- I get to attend CodessSEA, and network with some awesome people (both inside and outside Microsoft).
- We move back to the original building I was in, back into the spacious land of windows and walls we can decorate.
So, that’s where we are now. I’ve learnt a lot, and although less than I’d wanted has been engineering skills I’ve been more proactive about that the past month, and I expect to see that continue.
(Isn’t the theory that you should be surprised if you don’t acheive your goals, rather than the other way around? I knew that, and I was still doing it wrong. Oh well, starting short just means it’s easier to improve).