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How to ramp up as fast as possible as newly hired Senior Software Engineer?

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Senior Software Engineer [P3] at Teslaa year ago

Hi all,

I am a newly hired Senior Software Engineer. I worked at FAANG before but have never been in a senior role. I am currently in week 3 of my new role. My manager gave me expectation to ramp up in 3 months but with very little further guidance. The codebase is huge with very little and mostly outdated documentation.

What do I need to do to ramp up as fast as possible and position myself for promotion to Staff within next 1-2 years? I read that there are people ramped up within 1 month into their jobs on Taro. Hope you can share your tips and tricks.

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  • 38
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    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    a year ago

    Hello, thank you for this question!

    I'm not a senior engineer yet.

    But I can to give some insight to my Tesla ramp up process.

    DISCLAIMER: THIS WAS JUST MY EXPERIENCE AND DOES NOT REPRESENT TESLA AS A COMPANY.

    At the time, my team was very bootstrapped and there wasn't anyone to really help ramp me up. There was some guidance here and there but I was pretty much thrown in the water and told to 'swim'. They were definitely supportive but no one had the bandwidth to do any hand-holding and I had never worked in Big Tech before this.

    So, here's what helped:

    • Asking specific questions. I tried to be as specific with my questions so teammates could answer quickly and move on without giving me all the context. I would figure out most of the context on my own.
    • Reading the documentation (if there is any lol). Depending on the team you're on, the documentation could be very spread out or super organized and detailed. Consume what you can through our Confluence. Start with exploring and trying to figure out the structure of the information. Some teams put everything on Confluence and if they don't perhaps this is a gap you could fill. I put some of my own guides on Confluence to help the next person out. You mentioned it's outdated, so this is an area you could start contributing as you learn.
    • Define expectations of 'ramping up' aka have a 30-60-90 day plan. I came up with my own plan and proposed it to my manager and a few of my teammates on what I should work on. Find out what being fully ramped up means.
    • Leverage the Mattermost channels. Unfortunately, there isn't a directory of Mattermost channels and can be pretty hard to find. But you can ask your questions there, read the stickies and headers. Most folks are pretty helpful.
    • Schedule 1-1s with all your immediate teammates. Get to know your team and ask them what you should get started on or what you should focus on. Find out what the pain points are so you can start contributing. You'll need support at Tesla.

    These are just some tips on how I ramped up fairly quickly although not smoothly because there are a lot of teams and technologies I had to work with but I think I did fair.

    As for how to level up quickly, your manager should have given you a rubric. From my experience, Tesla values visible contributions and knowing your stuff on a deep level. Over time, you can choose a domain to 'own' and be the resident expert. That's how I've seen people level up.

    AGAIN FOR ANYONE THINKING OF QUOTING ME ON THIS, THESE ARE JUST MY EXPERIENCES, IT IS NOT REFLECTIVE OF THE COMPANY.

    Anyway, feel free to chat with me on Teams if you want to discuss further, I tried to be general here but I can chat about specific processes or where to find channels and resources.

    Happy to help and good luck!


    (Dear reader, please drop a like if this was helpful in any way, I'm trying to improve the format of my responses)

  • 9
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Congrats on the new job! Here's our best resources about onboarding: [Taro Top 10] Effective Onboarding

    For senior engineering onboarding, I recommend these in particular:

    The codebase is huge with very little and mostly outdated documentation.

    For advice on learning a new codebase quickly:

    What do I need to do to ramp up as fast as possible and position myself for promotion to Staff within next 1-2 years?

    The long-pole task you need to start ASAP to lay down the foundation for a Staff promotion is building deep relationships. Staff engineers are expected to have massive scope, regularly shipping project spanning 3-5 full engineering teams. In order to do that, you need a lot of very important people to like you. Here's our masterclass about how to do that: [Masterclass] How To Build Deep Relationships Quickly In Tech

    For the mechanics behind senior -> staff promotion, I recommend starting with this video: What's the Difference Between A Senior And Staff Engineer?

Tesla, Inc. is an American multinational automotive and clean energy company. Tesla designs and manufactures electric vehicles (electric cars and trucks).
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