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What is the ideal time required to get properly settled in the team and working with autonomy?

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Entry-Level Software Engineer [Associate MTS] at Taro Community7 months ago

Hey folks have started out on my first full-time job as an Early Career SWE at a Big Tech Company. Wanted to ask what is the ideal line of progress in terms of as months pass by.

For example in 3 months at least I should be capable of doing XYZ things.. in 6 months XYZ things... and within a year's time XYZ things independently.

I ask this question mainly since it's going to be close to 5 months of joining and I do require handholding with other peers on the team my aim is to operate as independently as possible. One of the feedbacks in the first quarterly check-in was to go in full depth for the debugging and independently create test plans for the work assigned before asking questions.

As for the creation of test plans yes since the codebase is too large I do tend to ask other team members if there is an existing functionality that can be leveraged or in case I get stuck as to what to do ahead or when I don't understand something.

The good feedback was the questions I asked were formed and detailed.

From the feedback, I am kind of at a crossroads in understanding whether I should ask questions or not ask questions and also crippled with self-doubt

Another pointer was how to be assertive in the sense I tend to be scared to share my ideology or idea about how we can potentially do something. Communicating with peers also seems intimidating especially Senior or Lead members or Manager too.

Is there a more proper way to communicate/send messages? The primary mode of communication is Slack and at times threads get bulky.

Any tips to understand the feedback properly and improve on the above pointers or in general are highly appreciated. I hope to get better at being a good SWE.

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Discussion

(5 comments)
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    Senior Software Engineer at Intuit
    7 months ago

    If you have the right support, then 6 months. If you need to figure out most things on your own, 8-12 months.

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    Coding Challenge Writer @ CodingChallenges.fyi
    7 months ago

    How long it takes will depend on the level of support you get and the complexity of the project. I'd take the feedback at face value and take the time to evidence that you've done some work independently before asking for help.

    When it comes to sharing your ideas it might help to phrase them as questions. "Could we approach it this way .... I think it could offer these benefits .... or address these challenges .... What do you think?"

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    Good questions - Lots to unpack here!

    Onboarding Expectations

    I mentored tons of E3 at Meta (entry-level, mostly newgrad engineers), and this is the playbook I held them too:

    • 3 months: Able to land code on time with moderate hand-holding - Moderate means that every task requires at least 1 question where I have to divulge a large chunk of what to do.
    • 6 months: Able to land code on time with minimal hand-holding - For every task, they can get 90%+ of the way there, but they will need help covering a tricky edge-case or something.
    • 12 months: Able to land code with effectively 0 hand-holding while also returning value - I can give them tasks and not worry at all about them turning it in on-time with high quality. And when it comes to returning value to the team, it generally comes in the form of reviewing other people's code.

    An E3 task should be of low to medium complexity, which is 1 month or less by Meta standards.

    However, Meta moves faster than 99% of tech companies so take this with a grain of salt. For most companies, you will need to slow this down anywhere from 25% to 50%.

    I recommend these other discussions as well:

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    Should You Ask More Questions?

    Yes.

    You have already gotten the feedback that your questions are high-quality. Keep asking them - You don't have much to lose. On the flip side, you have a lot to lose by not asking them, which is staying clueless forever. 😂

    On top of asking good questions, I recommend doing the following:

    • Extract maximum learning from each interaction - As someone who's more often been the senior engineer providing help, it is actually kind of annoying when a junior engineer asks me for help, I help them, and they come back 5 minutes later with another question (breaking my focus) as there was an adjacent question they forgot to ask. Here's a good video on how to NOT do that: How To Actually Learn Software Engineer Skills
    • Thank the helper deeply - Make it feel like it's worth people's time to help you. The most basic form of value add is to effectively show your gratitude, which we talk about in-depth here: How To Build Work Relationships Faster - Giving Deeper Thanks
    • Ask in more public forums - At Meta, we used Workplace, but most companies don't use it unfortunately. For you, try to ask your questions in as big a Slack channel as possible. If it makes sense, document the learning you got in a wiki so you generate a long-lasting artifact that survives past the 1-of interaction.
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    7 months ago

    How To Properly Share Your Opinions

    Another pointer was how to be assertive in the sense I tend to be scared to share my ideology or idea about how we can potentially do something. Communicating with peers also seems intimidating especially Senior or Lead members or Manager too.

    Nobody wants to be mean to the junior engineer (and if your EM/TL is happy to do that, you should probably leave the team).

    If you have an opinion on something, just share it. And use tentative language and other critical communication techniques to make sure it's received well. Check out my Effective Communication series to learn more: Alex's Guide To Effective Communication

    Here's some other resources that may help as well: