Hi Taro Community,
I am a new hire for my company and I will have an amazing opportunity to chat with a tech lead.
I wonder from a more senior engineer perspective, what some important information or questions are essential to ask or tackle during the opportunity coffee chat?
Thanks a lot for the help :)
Two quick thoughts:
This is not a make-or-break conversation. You don’t need to impress them, be a person. Ideally you sow seeds of an ongoing relationship. Even if it’s not formal mentorship, being able to ping them with quick questions, whatever… that’s real value.
The “easy” things to ask would be things like “What do you wish you knew when you first started here?” and “Who do I need to know to be effective?” and “What is the worst code we have, and how can I learn it?”. But really… you don’t know enough yet to ask any really probing questions. Most important is “Can we meet again in 6 weeks when I’m terribly confused?”.
I agree with Lee. Depending on your culture and the bandwidth of the tech lead, I think it's much more important to use this opportunity to start establishing a great personal relationship.
Reason being is the practical stuff like how best to succeed, org structure, dev processes etc will be answered organically as you start to ramp up, work with others, look at the code etc. 30 minutes of talking about work related things with the tech lead won't have a large impact on how well of efficient your onboarding goes.
However, 30 minutes establishing a good personal connection will. There are tons of opportunities to learn about the code, but not many to connect with your tech lead. The earlier you establish a great personal connection, the earlier you can benefit from the better connection. This will manifest with benefits like
There's not really a script in building a good relationship. But easy tactics are
Obviously, if your tech lead is all business or overworked this will be more difficult. However, you won't know that until you try connecting first.
+1 to all the other responses.
Always come at it from the perspective of "What value can I provide them?" instead of "What can they do for me?" Surprisingly (and you'll have heard it in some of Rahul's videos), some people actually want highly motivated mentees who can grow to provide a lot of value for their organization. There are stakes involved, i.e. their performance is linked to yours. Just take that into consideration and do your best!
As others have mentioned, the goal of the initial meeting should be more around establishing yourself as a positive, well-meaning presence eager to contribute to the team, less so around procuring valuable tactical knowledge.
Focus on exhibiting the following behaviors:
At a high-level, follow all the advice from here: [Masterclass] How To Have Impactful 1 on 1 Meetings
When it comes to questions though, I recommend these:
That last one will be particularly impressive coming from a junior engineer: It shows that you're taking the initiative (something juniors rarely do) while simultaneously signaling that you really want to add value to this person as well. Being delegated stuff is generally the main way for a junior to add value to a tech lead.