Well hello there…. Lets start with the first and foremost lesson of this post: you are NOT a dummy. You did something not everyone can do, and that is land a job in a technical role. Whether it is full time, an internship or you are self employed, your ability to become proficient in some technical field, whether it is programming, engineering or mathematics, got you here today. If you leave with anything after reading this post… leave with that.
Lets get started with a confidence booster. Always keep in mind that many people have applied for the same position you now have. Some may have been more _____ (fill in the blank) for the job and some may have been less, either way.. you are the one they picked. YOU ARE THE ONE THAT IS HERE. Do not doubt yourself. Don’t be a victim of the imposter syndrome! Get rid of the negative and move to the positive. Next be excited! You are starting a new chapter in life (A profitable one, I might add). Go into this new role with excitement, passion and be ready for anything.
Be A Student
Ok pep talk over. Now on to the nitty gritty. As you begin your new role many things are thrown at you: meetings, colleagues, projects, blah, blah and more blah. It will be a lot to take in but you need to focus. First get acclimated with the technologies you will be using. This can be a certain programming language(C#, Java, HTML, etc), a certain type of software (MATLAB, CAD, Photoshop, etc), or even any hardware you may be working with (circuit boards, mobile device, CPUs, etc). Some jobs may have formal training with the technology of use and some may not, either way take your work home. Your first 3-6 months of your technical role should be consumed by your job. After hours, take some time to review what you did at work, and look more into the technology of choice. There are a million books, online publications, tutorials and other research materials that can show you things that you may not have known about before. No matter how proficient you are in a technology, there is always so much to learn, and always room to grow. So for some time, you may feel like you are back in college, studying and doing assignments all night… but in the end it will all be worth it.
Expectations and Goals
It is very important that in the first few weeks of your job that you have some sort of sit down with your direct manager/boss. In this sit down, be sure that your manager clearly explains all that is expected from you in the role, and what kind of growth he/she would like to see from you. It is also not too bad to receive some sort of a timeline that ranges about 3-6 months, where your boss can tell you what you are expected to achieve by each month. After you get a little more comfortable in your role, set some goals for yourself. But do not keep them to yourself, be sure to share them with your boss in another sit down, just to be sure that your goals do not set you astray from your expectations. Being on the same page as your boss is very crucial.
Find a Mentor
No one in life ever has all the answers, but many people in life have already experienced things that may be new to you. Especially in a technical role it is hard to have any answers at all when you first start. Find a mentor that is:
- Relatable. You want your mentor to either be in a similar role or one that has been in your role for awhile.
- Easy to talk to. Communication is key! You want a mentor that is able to explain things to you clearly and is always willing to hear you out.
- Willing to help. Not everyone has the patience or time to help someone out frequently. You want a mentor that is willing to give you some time on their calendar and/or willing to answer any small questions on the fly.
- Reliable. You should be able to trust that your mentor will always guide you down the right path and have your best interest in mind at all times.
Mentors are not always the smartest people in the room, or the ones that always seem to have something to say. Sometimes your mentor could be an office space down just waiting for you to say hello and you never know. Do not fear asking various colleagues about what they have worked on and what they have achieved, so that you can find the mentor that seems right. Take your time and be sure the mentor you pick is the best fit for you.
Whether it is a small chat in the break room, or a long conference talking about new ideas, meet new people! The company you work for is not just the team you see everyday (unless you work for a startup.. then situations may be a little different), so it is always good to reach out and meet new people in other departments. It is always nice to hear what others are working on and be able to share your accomplishments as well. Networking will expose you to a vast number of experiences and people you may not have even realized existed in your company. It can also come in handy when looking for new projects to contribute to or other departments to explore in your future. Networking is one of the first steps in spreading the word about latest and coolest brand out right now, thats YOU! Word of mouth is a powerful tool and the more people you get to know, the more others may want to know more about you.
Surround Yourself With Those Like You
We all have friends who may be doing completely different things than we are. You know those friends that look at you like you are speaking a foreign language when you are trying to explain to them how well your project at work is going. Those friends give you an opportunity to really test your knowledge and teach someone a new concept. But what about those friends that challenge you!? It is important to have a small group of people you can talk tech with just to always keep your mind stimulated in and out of work. When you surround yourself with those who think like you, the possibilities are endless. The ideas that two technical people can create are almost mind boggling. Im not saying this has to be your everyday group of friends, but maybe just some people you have lunch with or sometimes catch a movie with. This will good for you, to bring in ideas to work, or implement something new you discovered with your tech friend and apply it to your current project. Technical friends rock… get some!
And with all that said… I am a newbie, just like you. This post is a combination of advice that those before me have given to me, and somethings that I have learned for myself. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to add them 🙂