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What questions should I be asking my onboarding buddy?

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Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazona year ago

Starting my first day and I was assigned an onboarding buddy. I was wondering what are some of the main questions I should ask.

Some questions I have asked:

  1. Wiki on how to set up dev environment
  2. Info about all meetings that I was invited to
  3. More info about what our team does?

I'm wondering if there are any other main ones I should be asking or is it just ask as they come along?

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 24
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    Those are all good tactical questions, and I have the following additional recommendations:

    • "What's the most important thing I should get familiar with for this team?"
    • "Do you have any external resource recommendations like books and online tutorials I can consume outside of work to augment my learning?"

    After you get more settled in (1-2 weeks in), I would ask more "meta" questions about performance like:

    • "Am I onboarding fast enough and completing my initial tasks at a good rate?"
    • "How is my code quality compared to the standards of the team?"

    I also recommend checking out the following Q&A about initial ticket speed, which also links a bunch of useful resources for onboarding: "How long should I take on my first JIRA ticket?"

    Lastly, you should also leverage your onboarding buddy as a feedback source in general and start proactively looking for real feedback every week after your first week. Onboarding is such a crucial time, and it's important to knock it out of the park when you work at a FAANG company like Amazon. Follow the advice here to get full value from your mentor: "How do you get the most out of mentorship?"

  • 20
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    Those questions feel like a good start! I especially like asking about the meetings since that gives you context on how the team operates and how the organization is structured. A few other questions to ask:

    • What do you think are the main challenges the team faces?
    • What are the biggest wins/failures in the past year? What went well in those projects?
    • Where are learnings documented from past experiments?

    All of these build on this notion of context: you want to understand the history of the team, understand what is prioritized, and what the learnings were.

    As an entry-level engineer, you should also spend a lot of time shipping code. So I'd ask questions around what ideas your onboarding buddy has for well-scoped projects that don't have many gatekeepers. These projects/areas of the codebase are really valuable to dive in and make some changes.

    Finally, one last note: you can (and should) ask these questions of people beyond your onboarding buddy! Don't limit your interaction to just your assigned buddy.

    Check out these good responses from Alex: