Two weeks ago I embarked on a new adventure. Changing jobs is always hard (and this is probably the first time I've done it by choice), and I really wasn't sure what to expect. So I decided to chronicle my first two weeks on the job - the good, the bad, and everything in between
Week 1, Day 1 - Monday
Day 1 started with some orientation meetings, mostly centered around IT and the people team. While my schedule had all of these meetings as one long block, it ended up being smaller meetings with breaks in the middle. People hopped off of the call during the breaks, so there wasn't really any opportunity to chat like there would have been had we all been sitting in a room together. I did find that I had a lot of downtime between meetings during the day, and I wasn't really sure what to do with my free time.
After the initial set of orientation meetings ended, it was time for team meeting, our first company-wide meeting. The CEO started the meeting by introducing the new hires (and having us each come off mute and answer some questions about ourselves, which I was not warned about). There were a lot of new hires and by the time we got to my turn we were low on time, so it was kind of rushed. I wish that someone had been aware of the number of new hires while planning the meeting so that more time could have been set aside for the introductions.
My next meeting was my first meeting with my manager. I had been very nervous about this, since it didn't pop up on my schedule until Monday morning, but overall, it went well. We went over an onboarding doc that he had prepared for me and then discussed a few goals for my first week (mostly centered around getting oriented and meeting people) and things that I might need to know about my team.
In the afternoon I had a meet and greet meeting with my "pod" (the cross-functional team that I'd be working with most). We all talked about what we do on the team and then got to know each other a bit through an icebreaker, which was uncomfortable (I hate icebreakers) but nice. This was less overwhelming than individual meetings with each member of the team would have been, and while I do want to get to know my teammates better, it was a good start. I also had a few people reach out to me via Slack to welcome me, which I very much appreciated.
Most of the day was downtime, and I really didn't know what to do with myself. I read through a lot of documentation and spent some time setting up my local development environment (which had some pain points, mostly around the monolith codebase that I won't be contributing to very often and ended up not setting up). I appreciated the fact that it wasn't back-to-back meetings all day, but I do wish the day had been more structured.
Week 1, Day 2 - Tuesday
Day two was my big meeting day - onboarding meetings in the morning, then some team- and job-specific meetings in the afternoon. We started with a check-in and getting-to-know-you meeting with the People Experience Manager, then we had an intro to the product and to the business model, both of which were helpful but felt a bit "in one ear and out the other." I wasn't feeling great during my second morning meeting, so it was harder to concentrate on that one. But overall, the meetings were helpful.
I started my afternoon meeting with my team's senior web engineer, who gave me an overview of our app and our QA environments. Of all the sessions I had in my first two days, this was probably the most helpful (well, maybe tied with the team meet & greet). I came out of this meeting with an action item - setting up a test account (which I managed to mess up, but that's just the way it goes sometimes). My next meeting was a call with my non-squad onboarding buddy, in which we mostly chatted about how things were going and she shared some things I might want to know (including some tips on meeting more of my new coworkers). We were scheduled to have a web team meeting (we have one every week), and I wasn't sure if I wanted to attend, but that ended up getting cancelled, so the decision was made for me. My last meeting of the day was an overview of the org and team structure (as it relates to my cross-functional team), and I came out of that with the action item of creating a "user manual" - a way for my team to learn more about me and how I work. At first I was not thrilled with another "introducing myself" task, but I later realized that this was a good way for me to explain some of the things I have struggled with when interacting with teammates in the past, like the fact that food-related activities tend to be not accessible to me.
Today I had an interesting revelation. As I was finishing up my setup, learning more about our app, and speaking to my teammates, I started to feel like the engineering/development processes at my new company were not as mature as those at my old company. At first I was a little unhappy that I hadn't discovered this during the interview process - did I really want to be working in a codebase that doesn't have at least 80% code coverage or where the team is just starting to learn about accessibility? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this could be an opportunity for me to make an impact. I can help create a culture of testing and help others who may not be as familiar learn the principles of our unit testing library. I can share my accessibility knowledge (although I'm far from an expert in that area) and experience. If my previous company was more mature and experienced in its development procedures, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with my new company - it just means that I can use my knowledge from working there to help guide my new team into our next stage.
Week 1, Day 3 - Wednesday
Wednesday started off with the last of our orientation meetings, a chance for us to learn more about the business and the team. I also attended my first team standup, and while I wasn't working on anything that went towards the team's sprint goals (well, one of our goals is onboarding new team members, so I guess my being there was contributing to the sprint goal), it was still a valuable learning experience, as I was able to see how our team approaches this important ritual. I did mention that my plan for the day was to get set up with some test accounts so that I could play around with the product a bit, and after the meeting, one of our QA engineers (the one who I will be working most closely with) reached out to offer to help me with getting the test accounts, which I very much appreciated.
In the afternoon we had a meeting to review how we use Clubhouse (the project management tool we use, which was entirely new to me) and our team's sprint rituals. While I have worked in an agile environment before, every team has a unique spin on the sprint ceremonies, and I appreciated this insight into the team and how we work. My team lead also introduced us to a "user manual" activity that the team had previously done and encouraged us to write up our own user manuals. The user manual is a primer for working with a teammate - a list of what they appreciate, what they don't really have patience for, and a bit about the teammate and how they work. I'm often afraid to share things about myself and my work style (and my out-of-work style), and this felt like a safe opportunity to give the team some information they may want to know when working with me. I also mentioned my dietary restrictions in this user manual (in the context of how food-related team events make me uncomfortable), which is something I never do, and while I don't know if this was the right decision, I am glad that I'm starting this job without that fear of food events hanging over me.
Week 1, Day 4 - Thursday
Thursday was my first day that didn't involve meetings most of the morning. I did have one early-ish meeting (I may have been eating my breakfast during that meeting), which was an overview of the projects my team is currently working on. This meeting also included an overview of how we use Figma, our design prototyping tool, which ended up being very helpful for my work later in the day.
My next meeting was standup, where I mentioned that I was ready to get started on some work. I was assigned my first two tickets and spent most of the day reviewing the designs and ensuring that I knew what needed to get done. I also set up a meeting for the following morning with another engineer working on this project so that he could give me a basic overview of what he had done so far and what work I needed to pick up.
Thursday was really the first day that I was focused on doing my own work, and while I didn't write any code, I do feel like I set myself up to be able to start writing code on Friday.
Week 1, Day 5 - Friday
Friday was the day I actually got down to work. Early in the day I met with one of my teammates, who gave me a brief overview of the project I'd be working on, what has already been done, and what needed to be done. After that meeting I was able to get started on my first ticket, and I made decent progress. This was the first day that I really spent heads-down writing code, and I was glad to finally feel like I was doing my job.
Towards the end of the day I had a check-in meeting with my manager. We talked a bit about my first week. I was encouraged to start "blue taping" - writing down things that look wrong or weird to me. Our plan is to revisit this list in a month or so and see which things now make sense (sometimes it's just a matter of lack of exposure or knowledge) and which still seem weird, with the hopes that we can identify anything that maybe does have room for improvement or should be changed. Immediately after this meeting I started making a list, and I'm interested to see how I feel about this list in a month from now.
One of the last things I did before the end of my first week was something I didn't really do at all at my last company - I joined an ERG. My company has an employee resource group for underrepresented genders in tech (which includes anyone who isn't a cis male), and I decided that I wanted to get involved. I don't know what my level of involvement will be, but I do know that I want to be part of the company culture and have as many resources as possible available to me (and maybe even be a resource to others), and I think that joining this ERG is a good start.
And that was week one.
Week 2, Day 1 - Monday
This was a tough day. I had two things I wanted to get done: organizing the imports on my component to ensure that they met our code conventions and writing tests for my component. The first one was easy. The second one was a little harder. Tests can be misbehave-y (sometimes its the test, sometimes its me), but the good thing about a well-tested codebase is that I have a lot of other tests to look at to help me figure out where I'm going wrong. The problem is ... I would not consider the codebase I'm currently working in to be a well-tested codebase. I know the team is working to increase code coverage, and that's great, but the fact that there are so few tests in the codebase is something that really threw me for a loop. Honestly, I wish I had asked more questions about testing during the interview process, because coming in and seeing the lack of tests really surprised me, and I think knowing this in advance might have impacted my decision.
Today's team meeting featured something that interested me a great deal - the announcement of a number of promotions. This was particularly of interest to me because it wasn't performance review season. These were promotions that happened at the end of the quarter outside of a performance review. Having come from a very difficult situation where I was told that I wasn't eligible for a promotion for well over a year because of the way the review cycles fell out, I was happy to see that promotions are not limited to reviews and that exemplary performance can be rewarded more than twice a year. I don't know if or when I will get a promotion, but knowing that not getting a promotion during a review cycle does not mean that I have to wait 6 months for promotion to be an option makes me feel more confident in my ability to grow at the company.
As exciting as this team meeting was, the highlight of the day was probably a different meeting, our engineering Q2 OKR review meeting. As someone new to the team, I appreciated the opportunity to see what the engineering Q2 goals had been and what progress we made towards accomplishing those goals. Since I'm still adjusting to the new company and how my work plays into our company goals, this was a great opportunity to learn more about the goals we set and how we measure our progress.
I had hoped to set up an open "get to know Sarah" meeting at some point during the day, just to give my teammates a chance to ask me questions and get to know me in an informal setting, but I was too stressed out from the testing stuff to set it up. I ended up never doing this meet and greet because of stress and scheduling (I tried to schedule it for later in the week but it didn't work out), and I do regret that.
Week 2, Day 2 - Tuesday
Tuesday seems to be my big meeting day, and this week was no exception. I started off my day with HIPAA training (which was significantly less painful than all of my prior HIPAA trainings), and then had a team roadmap planning meeting in the afternoon. The roadmap meeting was very interesting because it was my first exposure to what my priorities would be in Q3 and how they fit into our team goals. I ended my "working" day with a meeting with my onboarding buddy and my first web team meeting (where we discussed some accessibility principles that the team is currently learning).
The highlight of the day - or what should have been the highlight of the day - was the company's big office reveal party. The company recently secured a new office (very necessary due to rapid growth at the company), and this was the day when we all learned where the new office would be and got a chance to see the new space (and in-person socialize with teammates). I wanted to go to this event, both to see the new space and to meet some of my new teammates, but I'm not great with social events (I'm more of a "stand by a wall and hope someone talks to me" person than someone who will actively start conversations), so I wasn't sure how it would go. I ended up talking to a few people (including my manager, some of my fellow web engineers, and some of my pod teammates), but I also felt pretty uncomfortable at times and ended up sitting around somewhere waiting for people to come to me (or just chilling) rather than going over and introducing myself to others.
After the event ended, the company invited us to continue celebrating at the microbrewery around the corner. I ended up sitting at a table with some really great people, and while it was a bit awkward that I wasn't eating at all, I found this to be much more enjoyable than the big party. After most of my table left, I joined another table and got to meet a few more teammates. The smaller crowd and less formal atmosphere (although the party wasn't really formal) was much more my style, and I'm glad I decided to make my way to this "after-party". After the brewery closed, a group of people made their way over to another local bar, and I joined that group. One of the things I missed most during COVID was hanging out with teammates and travelling from bar to bar until well after midnight, and this really filled that hole in my heart. The problem is, I think I focused too much on filling the hole in my heart and not enough on what I should have been focused on - meeting some great new teammates and getting to know some of the people I will work with every day. I drank more than I normally would and said some things that, while totally normal for me, are probably not things I should have said to those people at that time. I'm generally a very responsible drinker and I wasn't this night. I do regret the amount I drank and how I behaved, but I don't regret spending time with coworkers and getting to know some new people. This event had the potential to be a really good opportunity for me to meet some new people and feel comfortable with my team, and while it didn't go exactly the way it should have, overall, it was a good experience and I'm glad I went, even if I'm not happy about the way I behaved.
Week 2, Day 3 - Wednesday
Wednesday and Friday afternoons are set aside as "no meeting" times, when internal meetings are strongly discouraged, but I don't really mind when people schedule meetings with me during that time. On this particular Wednesday, I was hoping to actually have that non-meeting time, and it worked out. I was able to get a lot of work done that afternoon, and I really appreciated having the heads-down time.
The struggle I have been having with my work is that what I'm working on is dependent on someone else's work, so I need to wait for that person to finish and merge in their work before I can merge mine. I had this situation at my old job, where a few of us were working on parts of the same feature and we were a little dependent on each other, and while it usually works out okay in the end, I do tend to feel frustrated when I'm ready or almost ready to merge but I can't. I was a little frustrated to be facing this again in my first few weeks at the new job.
I'm very happy with the pace at which I have (somewhat) acclimated to our codebase and the fact that I didn't have a hard time hitting the ground running. But it's frustrating to have nothing to show for that. Depending on how long it takes to get this other person's work merged in (and I definitely don't want to rush them), I may end the sprint not having completed my tickets, and I don't want that to be how I start a new job. This week really feels like I'm starting off everything on the wrong foot.
Week 2, Day 4 - Thursday
My morning started off a bit stressful, as I had a personal thing I had to take care of that took longer than anticipated, and I didn't check in to work until around 10:30 am (which is late for me). But from there the day went okay. I had my first engineering staff meeting (a monthly(?) meeting of all of engineering), which was a good opportunity to hear from all of the various teams and learn more about what other engineers are working on.
My team had a meeting where we learned of some changes that will be happening with the team's structure and processes. I wasn't surprised by this meeting, but I was interested to hear how the changes were being made, and I'm interested to see how this works for us and what comes next.
Our afternoon company-wide meeting included a discussion of our new hybrid work policy, which made me less than happy. I was looking forward to being back in the office 3 days a week, but I was hoping to be able to pick the days. Our new hybrid work policy was not that - it was either be there on three specific days every week (and have a dedicated desk) or be there 1-2 days a week and share a desk. After over a year of remote work, I was excited to be back in an office most of the week, but I knew I would miss the flexibility of working from home, so I was hoping to be able to choose to work from home on days when I had a lot going on outside of work. I liked knowing that my team could get work done even if we're not all in the same room, and to me asking everyone who will be in the office to be in the office on the same three days implies that you don't think distributed meetings are equal to in-person meetings. And I'm not sure I like that idea.
Despite the meetings and my frustrations, I was able to get some work done, and I felt like I ended the day in a good place.
Week 2, Day 5 - Friday
Friday was the last day of my second week, and I was hoping to end on a good note. I knew I was in a good place to put up a draft for my first merge request (MR). I spent most of the morning reviewing a teammate's MR (my first code review since starting at the company), and in the afternoon I was able to put up MR. I was pretty frustrated at how slowly I had gotten started with my work, so putting up my first MR felt like a much bigger accomplishment than it really should have.
I was hoping to also put in a second MR later that afternoon, but I realized that I had missed something in the design, and I ran into some trouble trying to implement the thing that I had missed. I spent a few hours trying to fix it, but ended the day still unable to resolve the issue. Which was not how I wanted to end the week.
After Two Weeks: Some Thoughts
The first two weeks at my new job have been okay, but they haven't been exactly what I was hoping for. Maybe it's just because things are so different than my previous job, but sometimes it feels like the developer experience at this company is not what I expected it to be. Tools are set up differently. Testing has a lot of room for improvement. That said ... the team is great. I think they want to improve the experience and improve their work. I think this company is a good place for me to grow my career and my leadership skills. But my primary focus right now is still growing as an engineer, and I'm not sure yet that this is the best place for me to do that.
My first two weeks at this job were good, but I wasn't left feeling like this is the next step in my career. I'm still not sure that accepting this job was the right decision for me. But I believe that things will get better as I become more comfortable with my team and my work. I'm looking forward to seeing how my feelings about my work change over the coming weeks and I'm hoping that in a few months I can look back at this blog and wonder how I could ever have felt like this wasn't the best possible place for me to be right now.