I joined my company as a college hire, and initially faced slow progress due to being assigned with mundane tasks. When I finally got into front-end coding, my motivation increased, but I still feel like I’m underperforming after a year. Despite closing more tasks until a month ago, I worry I'm not meeting my own standards. Taking extended time to close bugs adds to my concerns, and I'm unsure on how to set better expectations for myself. How can I assess my performance effectively and establish realistic goals without feeling overwhelmed? I’m sensitive, and the thought of expressing my worries to my manager, admitting that I'm stressed and fearing I might not be capable, makes me anxious. I'm concerned about potential consequences like getting fired, and I might even cry during such a conversation. What approach should I take?
It's very normal to feel overwhelmed early in your career. Remember not to be too hard on yourself.
I would highly encourage you to discuss your concerns with your manager. No good manager will fire you for admitting that you're stressed and having some self doubt. Think of your manager as a coach whose goal is to help you improve. They likely want to help but don't know how, either because they have too much going on or they don't know you well enough. Their job becomes easier if you can tell them what support or coaching you need.
It's important to go into these conversations truly open to feedback. Building a regular cadence of sharing and receiving feedback with your manager will help your performance over the long run.
In addition, you can start building relationships with more experienced peers who may be able to give you advice and feedback. Look for 1-2 engineers on your team or adjacent teams who are eager to help and set up a monthly 1:1 with them. Always make it an easy experience for them - show up on time, don't take too much of their time, send a thank you note if their advice helped you later on, etc.
You're in your early career! Take a breath.
Let's start with if these fears are founded. Have you received any indication from managers or performance reviews that you're under performing?
Speed is not the only measure of productivity and effectiveness. Are your solutions causing more bugs than they fix? How is your documentation and communication?
I think the best path forward as a new hire is to make sure you're not a resource-suck. Independence when working is good.
Do you have regular 1-1s with your manager? Those conversations would be a good metric to track your progress and growth.
Hope that was helpful! Here to chat if you want to dive deeper :)