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How do you enable seamless onboarding of a new engineer or intern into your team?

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Senior Software Engineer at Graba year ago
  1. What are the things you can suggest to reduce the turnaround time for onboarding a new engineer within the team?
  2. What are the things that can enable them better?
  3. How does this differ based on the stage of their career at which the new hire is in?
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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 6
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    I'm glad that you're helping with onboarding - Taking care of the newbies is so important, but teams often times don't invest resources properly.

    To start off, there are 2 resources I highly recommend:

    1. Session #5 - Mentoring Junior SWEs [E3] to Senior [E5] In Just 2.5 Years At Meta - Onboarding others is a form of mentorship, so a ton of the concepts apply here.
    2. My Effective Communication Guide - The part about building relationships is crucial. Newbies often times are afraid of sharing their issues as, well, they're new. You want to build up trust, so they are willing to go to you whenever they need the slightest bit of help.

    Things To Suggest

    • Have them schedule 1:1s with anybody on the team they'll be working with.
    • Give them the tiniest, easiest task that you can possibly come up with that will require them to land a change into the codebase. You want to build up this muscle ASAP.
    • Make it clear to them that they can book time with you whenever.

    Things To Enable Them Better

    • If you're the primary POC for onboarding them, schedule a weekly 1:1 with them as a "catch-all" mechanism to prevent their problems from falling through the cracks and of course, to build up trust!
    • Whatever resources like wikis, sample diffs, product specs you think would be helpful to them, share those.

    Onboarding Based On Level

    • Generally, you want to increase ambiguity and technical complexity the higher the level.
    • Let's say you're onboarding a senior engineer. After they get familiar with the code flow acing 1-2 super easy starter tasks, give them something harder like a bug that a mid-level engineer wasn't able to fix or a task where the designs aren't completely fleshed out.
    • However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't hand-hold them in the beginning if they're more senior. I still highly recommend doing the weekly 1:1 and being ready to pair program with them whenever they want to.
  • 4
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    Senior Software Engineer [OP]
    Grab
    a year ago

    Thanks Alex. This was super helpful. I have seen several new joiners suffer a lack of empathy quite often across several organisations I have worked. I feel this often happens primarily due to an increase in context as we start getting more and more experience, thus causing a large diff in experience of the new joiners and existing engineers. Thus making their onboarding seamless has been one of the personal goals that I feel happy about. This would surely help in building a much better culture.