November 4, 2019. That was the day I walked into my new office for the first time (well, other than my interview). I was incredibly nervous, but also excited about what was to come.
Some days it's hard to believe that that first day was six months ago. I still feel like I'm learning and adjusting, and I don't know that I'll ever stop feeling like the new person. Other days it seems like I've been here forever, and I can't imagine not working here. As I try to figure out how to celebrate this milestone (normally I'd bake something for my teammates, but ... that doesn't really work when we're all remote), I thought it would be nice to look back at how the last six months have gone.
My onboarding at the company was a bit of a mixed bag. I didn't really get all of the onboarding information as early as I would have liked, which was a bit stressful because I happened to be very busy the weekend before starting this job. The onboarding itself went fairly well, but it did feel like a lot of information crammed into not a lot of time. I wish it had lasted the full week, not just three days, and I wish I had started my engineering orientation and gotten a chance to meet with my manager on the first day. However, I learned from my first days at the company that I was going to be working with an amazing group of people, and there's a definite emphasis on getting to know the people around you. We had Cookies with Rookies on day one as a chance to meet new people (and eat some cookies), and later in the week I ate lunch with a buddy. I also was invited to socialize with my teammates later in the week as they went out to celebrate a birthday. In my second week, we had a company-wide onsite event, which was extremely overwhelming, but also a great opportunity to meet people that I wouldn't normally get to see in-person. And after that, the full-time work began.
Thankfully, I wasn't thrown head-first into my work with no help. I had an onboarding buddy who helped me get set up with the codebase and was there to provide any help I needed on my first few tickets (and anything after that too). In the first sprint, I was assigned a few small tickets, and from there I was gradually assigned more tickets, including some with a greater difficulty, based on what my manager/scrum master and team lead felt were appropriate for me. The tickets I was working on covered a variety of tasks, some of which felt very doable solo, some of which were doable with help, and some of which felt almost impossible. I had 1:1 meetings with my manager every other week and with my team lead once a month or so, which helped remind me that any support I needed was available to me. I had hoped to hit the ground running and feel up to speed pretty quickly, and that didn't happen (it was definitely a slower process), but I knew that things were progressing and I was progressing, even if it wasn't at the pace I expected.
Two months into my new job, some big changes started happening. We changed the way our teams were organized, and I was assigned to a new team. I had been doing some of the same work on my previous team (the work I do now was originally under the scope of my original team, but was then separated into its own team), but it still meant adjusting to new processes and some new people. A few weeks later, it was announced that my manager would be leaving the company. I enjoyed working with my manager, and I felt like he understood my difficulties and struggles, and while I was excited for him to be taking on a new responsibility, I was sad to see him leave. All of this was happening COVID-19 was making its way around the world, and less than a week after my manager's last day, I was suddenly working from home. I've never been great at working from home (I have worked from home occasionally, but much prefer to be in the office), so this new working situation really threw me off. Just as I was adjusting to working remotely with my team, our team dynamics changed, as our team tech lead (and scrum master) was promoted to a managerial position, which left us with only 2 full-stack engineers on the team. I was also assigned to a new manager, who had been my tech lead on my first team, and while I was excited to be working with her again, it was yet another change. Having all of these changes come over the course of a few months made each new change a difficult adjustment, and I'm still not fully comfortable with all the changes.
Even with all the changes and uncertainty, I am starting to feel like I'm fairly well settled in. I know what responsibilities I'm comfortable taking on, and I'm starting to feel comfortable with asking for help on the tasks I'm not as comfortable with (for example, in my most recent sprint planning, I mentioned when volunteering for a particular task that I would need help completing the task). One of the things that I felt helped me a lot was having a smaller team, because being one of the two full-stack engineers on my team meant that I was forced to take on tasks that I may not have been as comfortable with just because we didn't have enough people for me not to. I do feel like I haven't learned as much as I wanted to by this point, and I wish I felt like I was learning more.
Six months in, I'm not sure that I'm where I expected to see myself at this point, but I do feel like I'm on the right track. Based on where I am now and where I want to be when I hit the one-year mark at this job, I have some goals for the next six months. I'd like to become more confident in my ability to tackle a variety of new tasks, which I plan to accomplish by taking on at least one ticket each month that's a little outside bit outside my comfort zone. I want to feel more confident that I am properly reviewing PRs, which I will do by comparing the notes left on my PRs to the notes I leave on others' PRs to see if there's anything that I'm forgetting to mention in my reviews. Lastly, I want to feel more confident in sharing my knowledge. This is something that has always been a struggle for me, and I know that I have knowledge that is worth sharing, so I am committing to speaking on a technical topic at least once in the next six months, either at work or at a meetup. My definition of "speaking on a technical topic" is very broad - I may just end up sharing some information about our codebase with a new hire or explaining a technical decision at a team meeting, or I may end up presenting a project at a conference or meetup - but I want to verbally share something I know about the technologies we're using (or interested in using) at work.
Overall, I'm happy with how my first six months at my job have gone, and I think I have a good plan for a successful next six months. I hope to be back here in six months talking about my successful first year at the job, but even if I'm not ... I appreciate the experience I've had here so far, and I know that I will continue to take the lessons and skills I've learned with me for the rest of my career.