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Ask HN: First month job anxiety. Am I actually an impostor?
187 points by rericks on Oct 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 88 comments
I joined one of the big-4 tech companies a month ago after years of freelance work. Since joining, I’ve had trouble “hooking in”. For one, it doesn’t seem like I have all that much to do. I’ve submitted a few very simple bug fixes, and I have some larger feature work coming up, but it’s all on the order of maybe a few hundred lines of code. I’ve also spent maybe a week more than I should have on a fairly simple feature, just from fighting with my tools and trying to figure out where to put a few sparse calls in the codebase. It’s really embarrassing.

The other issue is that I’m riddled with anxiety every day. For one, I’m worried that my coworkers might think I’m slacking off, or that I’m incompetent or a bad hire. Everyone around me is always on point though many of them are younger than me. Their thoughts are completely clear. I rarely hear them make mistakes or misunderstand anything: they seem to have no weaknesses. In contrast, my thoughts tend to be extremely muddled. I often take in information without making much sense of it at first, and it seems to take me a while to clarify these thoughts into some whole. (And even then, I’m not always able to talk about it clearly.) I think this has always been my way of thinking, but it feels out of place here..

The other big issue is that I don’t really know how to reach out to people. I’m not a collaborator; I’m a recluse. In my life, I’ve always done things from scratch. Now I have to make meetings, ask people for information, decide that something needs to be done and tell another team to do it, etc. To get good at this, it feels like I basically have to rewire my entire personality, and I don’t know how to go about doing this. I’ve also found myself not asking clarifying questions when something doesn’t make sense in a meeting—see “muddled thoughts” above—and then I’m stuck figuring out whatever it was that I misunderstood on my own time (or not at all).

I don’t know if this is impostor syndrome, because I might actually be an impostor. Deep down, I think I’m riddled with fear that I’m just not good enough to be a “Googler” (or your favorite FANG here).

What do I do? How do I get better?

In my experience it takes 4-6 months to feel like you belong.

You don't feel like you have that much to do because they're not giving you that much to do yet. They are giving you time to look around. No one expects you to rockstar the first day (or month even).

After you look around for a while and get the lay of the land, you're expected to spot places you can pitch in and one fine day, you'll see something that really needs doing, say excitedly "hey! I can do that", own it, and then you'll feel like you're home.

Just jumping in to a big office with an energetic team is extremely disorienting. A month in and you've already battled through their (undoubtably weird and opinionated) tool stack and are submitting? Good work. Carry on.

Heh, I've taken that long to get a workstation allocated, get a parking pass issued, and find the bathroom (not in that order...).

Sounds like you've been set adrift in a canoe without a paddle and you're trying to keep up with the other canoeists.

You need to ask your colleagues to pair with them, and your management to encourage the practice. The amount of institutional knowledge you need in order to thrive should be more fire hose than eyedropper. The reason people fight with their tools? The tools suck in terms of instructions and the only way you master them is to watch others master them.

As soon as you make yourself indispensable (this can take many forms, and you should explore holes in the lineup that you enjoy doing, which may include project tracking, or thoughtful code reviews, or bringing homemade pizza in when everybody's starved and exhausted and can't bring themselves to eat), you're secure. Work as hard or as little as you like, and don't feel bad about it. That's the maximum degree of control you get, with a sizably random portion that will forever be outside your control.

Take some comfort in your idle time and try to push it toward reading or documenting something, even if it's as mundane as your own on boarding experience (in order to make it easier for the next new hire). Try this philosophy: As long as you put in your hours and meet expectations, you're fulfilling your purpose to the company by prettying up the place and using your weight to keep the building from blowing away.

> The amount of institutional knowledge you need in order to thrive should be more fire hose than eyedropper.

I don't think this is what you meant, but I disagree as written. You shouldn't need a fire hose or institutional knowledge to thrive. Of course in practice, this is rarely true, but in general I think aiming to require minimal institutional knowledge is a good goal.

I don't know why, I felt warm reading this. Thanks!

> The reason people fight with their tools? The tools suck in terms of instructions and the only way you master them is to watch others master them.

Sometimes the tooling is genuinely rubbish and sucks for a variety reasons. My advice would be to look for ways to improve it, especially if several people agree it needs improving.

I wanted to chime in and say that I really liked your advice and the way you presented it. It's actionable, comforting, and not at all didactic. :)

This is good advice

Perfect example of the hiring process these days. Companies don't even communicate with candidates, they don't want to know anything about people besides their ability to crack a function on a whiteboard. If you crack it, you get the offer, otherwise bye bye. Such a shame... They don't understand that our job is way more than Leetcode. It involves collaboration, communication, creativity, thinking out of the box, etc. What's happening to you my friend is the byproduct of our current hiring techniques. Especially the ones used by Faang's.

I'm a serial faanger BTW, so no bitter taste at all... I've been there done that.

It is not your fault at all, it's just a different way of working. If you've done only freelance jobs then you have a lot to learn in terms of team work and the corporate world. You are not an impostor. Your current "weaknesses" are part of our job and what you're lacking here is a lack of experience within that type of environments. Just be humble and don't hesitate to ask questions to people. Also, keep in mind that 90% of the people in the corporate world fake it until they make it. They collect knowledge and hold on to it like they would hold on to gold. If you start digging you realize that they can't think outside of the box. They only know one little thing, but they know it very well. Of course, when you repeat the same thing over and over, at some point you become the master of that little thing. Exactly like Leetcode... spend 3 months on leetcode and you'll easily get offers at Faang's.

I've noticed a pattern: the people that look "on point" are often clueless, and the ones that look muddled are often heading in the right direction. It has taken twenty years, and several careers, for me to work this out though.

Try to find someone you can talk to, and work with, that doesn't make you feel stupid. You seem to be focusing too much on the "I": it makes a huge difference the relationships you form. Huge.

This could be difficult for you, but here's another idea: be vulnerable. Let people know what's going on with you, that you're afraid and need a leg-up. Being vulnerable in this way is actually a sign of great strength. Your post here on HN is already a step in this direction.

>I've noticed a pattern: the people that look "on point" are often clueless, and the ones that look muddled are often heading in the right direction.

It's because it has nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with presentation. This is why some people work in sales, and some people work in engineering. If someone that has no clue keeps insisting they do understand, at some point you'll start doubting yourself instead.

Richard Feynman, who is without much debate one of the most important physicists of all time, said something about asking "dumb" questions, and how people often misunderstood why he was asking the things he was asking. He was trying to look at something from different angles, but if you can't look beyond the question, you might think "why is this person asking me something a child would ask". They're not stupid, they're trying to initiate an exploration of ideas.

In my opinion, when you ask a "dumb" question to someone who is more concerned with looking smart and presenting well, their first reaction will be one of confusion, or even mockery. When you ask a truly intelligent person a "dumb" question, they will humor you, and start looking at the problem from different angles, usually trying to involve you in the process. Smart people love to discuss things, "presentable" people hate it, because for them it's just one long continuous risk of being "exposed". Smart people do not fear being exposed, because they know very well what they don't know, which is one of the most common traits among intelligent people, and ironically is why intelligent people feel dumb.

One of the most important lessons in my professional life is perhaps similar to yours, and that is that it's easy to recognize true intelligence when you encounter it. Truly intelligent people are normally humble, curious and intense. When you encounter people that are arrogant, narrow-minded and lazy, you're not the one in the wrong. They are just hiding their insecurity.

So to the point of the post, what should you do in a situation like this? If you're extremely introverted and not used to working in teams, that is a huge hurdle, because that is how human beings normally seek assurance: through their peers. So if I could give only one general advice here, it would be: work on your people skills. Try to pair up with colleagues, discuss their work, your own work, and be humble. Be open about your doubts, and you'll quickly realize that there is no line of business more full of people with impostor syndrome than IT.

Thank you for putting this in words, I had thought about how people react to questions and how some would just dismiss them while others will explore and try to know more about your thought process but never could put it in words.

the first paragraph in your post reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Thank you for this comment. Some golden observations there.

So true. Reality is very complex and usually it's a very fine line between the best approach and the second best approach; there are a lot of factors to consider. If someone is overly confident about going in a particular direction, it often means that they haven't thought about it enough.

That said there is a big difference between being confident in your abilities and being confident in your arguments.

I joined a large company last year after years of freelancing and found immediately that one of the skill sets which I had to develop was my ability to talk about technical details. When freelancing I would often be the only person on the project - I would have to talk to clients about the interface and the behaviour, but never about the details. Additionally the way I organize my thoughts about technical things doesn't naturally lend itself to verbalization.

It's been a bit of a struggle and initially the sheer amount of time I had to spend talking to people was a bit exhausting, but FWIW, I did get better at it and I think it was actually very valuable for my growth as a dev. Really, it was unrealistic to think that I could be dropped into a completely different atmosphere and hit the ground running with all the skills I needed. You're probably an overachiever to get hired there in the first place, so the experience of not being great is probably somewhat new to you - the rest of us have to deal with this more regularly ;)

Good luck!

Thank you for putting into words what I experienced with my past job.

In just every single previous job, I was either the lone coder (small companies or startups) or mostly expected to figure things out on my own and didn't have to discuss architectural decisions or issues I was having too often.

But in my most recent job, I suddenly had to start explaining things in detailed and technical terms multiple times a day to coworkers and managers and was finding it really difficult to have anywhere near as precise of language about it as my peers had when they spoke about the same things.

I've gotten better at that over the past three years of being here, but I still struggle with it, and sometimes feel awkward when I have difficulty finding the right words when it seems my peers have no issues describing with precision.

I'm curious: Did those verbally talented people also produce complex working code?

My experience is that people who sound impressive and accurate rarely do.

I know the types of people you're talking about, and they do exist, for sure. But no, these people knew more than I did, at least in enterprise software (I came from mobile and video games, the apps mostly were all on the device making periodic api calls, I didn't have to worry too much about scaling to tens of thousands of concurrent users, or know anything about load balancing, or different environments, or query optimization, or all sorts of other fun stuff).

I learned a lot from them over the years, from Code Reviews I've received as well as Dev Learning Sessions we used to do every week, where one developer would share their knowledge on a topic with the rest of the group (sometimes they had to research it, we burned through a lot of relevant to our business topics after about 8 months) in a 30 minute session.

I could have written this exact post 8 months ago. I mean that's literally word for word how I felt when I started my current job - even down to the age differences, muddled thoughts, problems with tools and brain rewiring.

It does get easier. After a few months and you start to build more important things you'll start to feel more valued, more important and more respected (and by this I mean you likely already are valued, important and respected - I'm talking purely about your own self-impression not what others actually thing about you). Thus the anxiety does start to fade.

My advice is use that anxiety as a motivator. Once it does fade away you'll be in a better, happier, mental place but in the meantime you might as well use that nervous energy to solve problems with your tooling, etc. The problem I had was some days I'd get so panicked that I wasn't pulling my weight that ironically I was too stressed to work productively. Once I started using that nervous energy to focus on my actual problems rather than perceived problems I found myself far more useful, better organised, and weirdly I became less a paranoid employee as a result.

Also make sure you attend work socials. Seeing people in a normal, non-work, setting is great for making you feel more at ease and integrating better in the team.

I hope your feeling passes because i've been where you are and know first hand just how horrible it is!

This is how the brain works. At first, even understanding social norms, the lingo, codebase is hard. People are talking but you're probably only absorbing like 30% of whats said. You read a codebase, and think you 'understand' but really again, only probably 30% is retained.

The brain, memory, and the 'automatic' unconscious mind lag behind and take a lot of stimulus to rewire;you need to give them the inputs they need, and the time to catch up. Once they do, it will be night and day, and you'll start flowing.

The main thing you need to do is to keep bombarding your brain with new information and critical thoughts. Even if you don't have questions, force out some stupid ones to get the questions flowing.

Doing this now, versus after a year, is critical.

So the question really is, what behaviors do you need to start that will allow you to give your brain those critical stimuli?

- Generating questions - actively email or seek answers from colleagues

- Ask to do some pair programming and work through stuff with people, were you assigned a mentor or manager? <- if you can find someone, one-on-one learning is the MOST efficient way of knowledge transfer when beginning a project

- Make sure you act VERY POSITIVE, VERY ENGAGED, AND VERY EXCITED, these will make people want to help you.

Good luck.

Here's some scattershot hopefully-positivity.

Keep in mind that a lot of these companies are good at hiring for potential, not for an immediate burst of productivity. You are supposed to have time to figure out how to fit in and how to work with other people in your new environment.

A solid first step in "getting better" is allowing yourself space to not be as good as you want to be, yet.

You don't have to be a copy of your coworkers.

Reaching out to people is something you can learn. It's a skill you may have to explicitly practice, but you can learn it. Make yourself do it at least once a day (more if you feel up to it!), and explicitly congratulate yourself when you actually do.

I think it's worth pointing out that your coworkers may rarely hear you making mistakes or misunderstanding anything, and might see you just as you see them. It's natural for everyone to present strength and hide weakness. You have a chance to make a positive impact on your team as you learn to clarify things as soon as they come up: your teammates might also be afraid to do this, because they also don't see anyone speaking up with non-perfect questions.

Yes, you're an imposter. You're not the person who is your made up mental idea of what you think a Googler is. Everyone there is just a person who is mostly insecure in the same way and is just trying to pretend they are smarter than they are.

Relax. People seem to have this idea that you can jump into an existing team and start making big impacts on an established product with no ramp up time. It takes time to understand something, and much woe and misery arises if you start tilting at Chestertons fences out of the gate. Developing a feel for the interpersonal dynamics of a team is also not something that comes about instantly by osmosis. I'd try to get a bead on what expectations are, keep plugging along, and give it time.

A month is an eyeblink. It may not seem like it in the fever pitch environment that is all too easy to fall prey to, but I've waited longer waiting on customers to navigate red tape to get a few service accounts setup to install our products...

this exactly.

I have went through multiple rounds of this in different roles. I think most have. There are already great practical comments here on how to approach it for your specific case. It takes awhile, but if you just keep chipping away at the things your finding difficult and you will start to settle in.

> Everyone around me is always on point though many of them are younger than me. Their thoughts are completely clear. I rarely hear them make mistakes or misunderstand anything: they seem to have no weaknesses.

Keep an eye out on this longer term. Ive been truly amazed by how quick people were in the past only to realise later they were skilled at communication and not the subject they were working on. "Knowing the right answer to give" vs "knowing the right answer". And if the person is very smart it takes a while for this to become apparent.

I feel for you. I just joined a company about three months ago as the only senior engineer on the team and I’ve been going through the same thing. The way I get through it is by reminding myself that I got hired for a reason and that I need to give myself six months before really evaluating how the situation is going.

As someone else mentioned, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m used to “firefighting” and being the fixer, so asking other people for input and help is totally new to me, and it’s reasonable for it to take some time to adjust.

Also: Do not feel bad for taking time getting to know the tools and codebase. I’d much rather someone on my team take a week longer and gain knowledge vs just jumping in and breaking things by making changes to things they don’t fully understand.

Well, if it makes you feel any better: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I still feel like the expectations placed on me are far above my capabilities - but they’re also far above the capabilities of anybody I’ve ever worked with. They’ll always try to demand more out of you than you or anybody else can possibly deliver, and be genuinely disappointed when you can’t work miracles all day, every day. Just do the best work you can do, knowing that you’re doing the best work you can do, and you’ll get a little better every day.

Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it feels like those demanding results expect someone who can create a world overnight or spin gold out of air. It's easy to acknowledge that at some level all professional relationships are adversarial, but when talking to others, there is sometimes the incredulous sense that as co-workers you should make every effort to collaborate and speak as honestly as possible to maximise the quality of the product, but interpersonal politics of personal gain throw that idea down the toilet.

Obviously they would always prefer you to spin gold out of air, but I’ve found that most are perfectly happy if you find a way to turn lead into gold too.

Have solace in the knowledge that you're not the first or last one to have these thoughts. Some advice from a fellow introvert:

- ask all the questions. If things seem 'too quiet', then you're not asking enough - dig deep enough to find out what the active big projects are, what their roadblocks are, and how they fit in with the CEO's vision. (Those high visibility projects have the bonus side effect of making you look very good if they go through successfully. positioning yourself as an active problem solver goes a long way in corp life.). If everything's stored on the server, spend a month memorizing where and what the "juicy" files are. If there's one person that is truly a knowledge dragon hoard, spend time with them.

- go out to coffee with at least two people every week. I hate talking to people over meals (and am actually a misanthrope under a very well constructed mask) - but this made the biggest difference in becoming "part" of the team. Find the interesting people (or at least the people you can tolerate the most), what makes them tick, what advice they have, what advantages they think you bring to the table, and ask what they would do in your shoes. The answers may surprise you.

- If someone tells you to do something and you're not 100% sure on executing it, repeat it back to them. Not word for word, but repeat it back how -you- interpret their decision. ("Understood. Just to clarify, I should write X lines of code that do X Y and Z and do [this purpose] for [this department] and have the first draft by [this date]?") Easiest way to be on board.

- your brain is a shifty little meatbag that _will_ inadvertently try to sabotage you re: anxiety. (I mean that in a plural sense - mine does the same if it tries to wiggle out under the leash of my will.)(Put more kindly, think of it as a runaway puppy that gets distracted by every little new smell and has to be gently trained.) If things seem suspiciously out of control and no one else is nervous/worried, take a step back, note what is under your area of control, what is not, schedule some 1-on-1 with your supervisor and explicitly ask for a list of 3 things you are currently doing well, and 3 things you could improve on. As long as you make an active effort on those last 3 things, and your manger is a functioning reasonable human, they'll have nothing to complain about.

Good luck. You can do it.

First off, anxiety sucks and it's more than likely bringing about these negative thoughts.

Second, you're experiencing what a lot of people experience in their first month (or even months). Especially coming from a freelance role, the team experience will take some getting used to. Changing up your collaboration style will take some time, but ultimately you'll be fine. I was also pretty reclusive when I started at my job.

To answer you question about getting better. Reading Code and asking questions is the #1 thing to do. In order to write good code, you need the context surrounding your problem. If you're working for a FAANG company they will (hopefully) have coherent coding standards which makes reading code easier. Along with reading code, asking questions is perfectly normal for _everyone_. Engaging with other engineers and seeking knowledge is a part of your job description. If you feel you're asking too much, take some notes and document your learnings.

Overall, you're going to be fine!

I can identify a lot with what you said; one of my biggest weaknesses is being afraid to ask questions, fearing it might signal my lack of trying to figure things out on my own, and I can't seem to know when I'm actually wasting too much time not asking.

Personally, if I were to join a new team in the future, I'd first ask what the preferred toolset to debug is, along with any shortcuts (bash commands, way of setting up terminals, any admin UIs) they use, because it can greatly tighten your feedback loop when you test code you write, or poke around, etc. Maybe even pair with one of them while they solve a not so trivial bug, asking them to voice out what questions they're asking in the their head, how they know which file to look for or what to global search for, and articulate how they traverse through their tree of knowledge.

I've seen interns that were energetic, enthusiastic, and really felt no shame or stupidity in asking questions, even more trivial ones, because they looked like they were genuinely curious. They soaked up knowledge like a sponge and it was evident that they had nothing to lose after months of relentless question-asking - and very fortunately my team's culture tolerated that. Your team should encourage and support curiosity, speaking the language of logic, reason, and hopefully even helping others somewhat selflessly.

Re your first paragraph: What you're doing now is learning the tools, learning the codebase, learning the terminology, and learning the company structure and procedures. This takes time. Nobody is surprised that it's taking you time. The people in your second paragraph who are doing fine? They already learned this stuff. That's why they're doing fine. When you have learned this stuff, you'll probably be fine too.

It's not you, it's them. A proper manager should be actively integrating you into the team. It's as simple as dragging you along to meetings so you learn what's going on, or CC'ing you on emails, or having you assist a coworker instead of handling a feature by yourself.

Lots of good advice here. I'll make some assumptions, such as that you were doing well as a contractor. And that generally means you've adapted some form of The "Feynman Algorithm":

1. Write down the problem.

2. Think real hard.

3. Write down the solution.

Crucially, you've had an approach to point 0 (only implied above) - figure out what the problem is. What is the domain? What is the data like? What does the problem suggest for transforming the data? About transforming the data model so the hard problem become easy?

As a contractor, you'd probably work on point zero with your client - and as the relationship would typically be new, both of you knew this part was essential. What does the client (want to) do? How can you help enable that?

Now, you need to figure out point zero again, in the context of a large organization: large new code base, large new domain(s), large new company culture.

Ask your manager or Co worker for a mentor. Pair program. Read code, read commits from your co-workers. Try to understand the data model(s). Read bug reports.

All those things should help with point zero (let's call it context). Now you should be ready to apply the "algorithm" ;)

[ed: and yes, learning/internalizing enough context to be useful takes time!]

Your biggest hurdle is lack of collaboration, as pointed out in your own words.

I’m a semi-freelancer. I have a long term contract with a company , and it’s my first big contract.

I get the feeling of being an imposter. I overcome it by constantly asking questions and talking to my coworkers. And I’m learning.

As long as you keep learning and are making a positive impact , you’re doing fine. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself too busy to care!

ASK QUESTIONS. Those people didn't know what they were doing at first either. Organizational knowledge is the hardest knowledge to aquire; even when there are great wiki's like in FANG, there's still intricacies to it everyone knows that you don't. ASK QUESTIONS, don't be afraid to look stupid, chances are your questions aren't stupid.

0. What you're experiencing is "The Big Secret" that no one seems to want to talk about and is completely normal.

1. Your coworkers have clear thoughts not because they're better than you but because they have built months or years of context, situational awareness, and pattern-matching around a particular project, process, or initiative. This precaching of resources allows for faster processing time which you perceive as increased mental clarity.

2. You're scared to ask questions because you think doing so will lead to getting "found out." In my experience, the exact opposite is true. Not only that but most people in meetings do not synthesize everything and yet stay silent. Leave the mental frame of "I don't understand and they'll judge me for it" and adopt one of "I want to make sure I understand this clearly so that we can best move forward as a team" - in fact even preface your questions with the latter. People will respect you for it.

3. People find proactive communication difficult because they assume the nature of the relationship is going to be somehow adversarial in nature, especially when reaching out to people/teams to ask them add more work to their plate. This is the wrong mental frame. When reaching out to people as part of your work, adopt a collaborative mindset of "we're in this together and to work together with Team X we need to merge our realities." All subsequent communication should then focus on both sides articulating the particulars of their individual realities, making a shared one, and establishing a roadmap to work together moving forward.

4. Everything that's happening to you is a form of irradiation that will result in hypergrowth of you as a person and an engineer - if you let it. There's a great book by Carol Dweck about growth mindsets vs fixed mindsets. A fixed mindset perceived your skills and abilities as immutable. A growth mindset recognizes that your skills and abilities are capable of optimization and accepts new input to make it so. Input that induces growth is necessarily painful - if you accept this you will realize that in time YOU will be the grizzled veteran engineer confidently able to articulate thoughts on a complex project and rally the necessary people to execute on it - because you've seen the underlying patterns a million times.

Work on the above over time and you will join a select club of people who no longer have to pretend to be high performers but actually are.

Really scattershot opinions

> I’ve also spent maybe a week more than I should have on a fairly simple feature, just from fighting with my tools and trying to figure out where to put a few sparse calls in the codebase.

Automate your tool setup so that you can start from day1 (ok day 2)...

> it doesn’t seem like I have all that much to do.

Spend this time to read as much code as you can, including PRs from your peers.

> Now I have to make meetings, ask people for information, decide that something needs to be done and tell another team to do it, etc.

This is the _really_ valuable space in SEng. An army of offshorers can do programming. Software engineering is when you add people and time. Figure out how to motivate and sell people on ideas, figure out how to recruit allies in initiatives etc.

I have the same experience. The difference is, I have been doing it for a year now, and still feel the same way. Although I've learned a lot, and am much much better, I still struggle on simple tasks, and don't understand much I have to do.

Being in such a consistent state, the anxiety couldn't sustain, and now is only like once a week of terror.

I just keep learning and practicing and getting better. It's the only thing I can do to try and get myself up to a basic level to be a somewhat effective contributor.

I'd like some technique to improve my learning, but the reality is I've tried techniques, and it just wastes more time than just practicing, and reading code, and learning.

It's a problem, my only solution is to get better.

The quickest way to get comfortable is to ask questions.

Actually, IMO, that's the only way to get comfortable since technically you don't know the ropes yet. Literally the only way.

The difference between a Jr Engineer and every other category is that Jr's don't yet know how to ask questions because they don't yet know what they don't know, but Jr's that learn how to ask quickly advance.

Asking questions gets one through anxiety humps, and also helps you get to know your teammates better (without worrying about all of the other interpersonal baggage that comes with being introverted).

Lastly, for every group there's a person who enjoys answering questions -- find that person!

I think there are just some work environments that are like this.

When I transitioned from freelancer to 9-5'er, I felt the same way you do for an entire year. Confidence comes, but only slowly.

It doesn't help that I've repeatedly heard people say that nobody knows what I do, and that I can go an entire week without anyone in the building talking to me. (The rest of the computer folk are in other buildings, and we do communicate by e-mail.)

All I can tell you is learn what you can. Do your best. Save your paychecks. If they do decide to jettison you eventually, you'll need the cushion.

I joined Google few months back, and I feel the same way. I even discussed this with my manager. Heck, I even cried at office one day. But things are slowly getting better. The feeling has defiantly reduced over time or I have stopped giving a fuck a lot of times. Either way, it has reduced but is still present. I felt the same way at my previous employer for the first 6 months I guess, but then I felt like God :P I could get shit done fast and with a better design than my peers. So I am hoping it turns the same way at Google for me, and you. :)

I had this exact issue straight from college into MS. My team was built off a ton of legacy and getting ramped up on all the engineering systems and testing made it take about a month before I could even make a check in. Velocity is very low at the start in my case. I was there to support new engineers who were completely disoriented in the same way. I was able to start working effectively after a few months and my anxiety was coming in an out as i was getting exposed to new engineering systems that required brand new ramp up. On my team I was sensitive to new people getting lost and received lots of favor on my team as we grew.

Don't let it get to weeks where you are not accomplishing anything. Escalate your issues sooner than later, get to know the right engineers so you aren't moving to any individual too many times. Sometimes there are just hard roadblocks and you don't want to get in a position where its been 2 months and you are stuck on something without showing that you have been actively trying to get over it.

If things are really bad, you may consider moving internally to reset your reputation and maybe land on a team where things don't require so much ramp up in order to contribute.

Welcome to FANG.

Don't worry, it's completely normal. First few months can be hard. Especially if it's a Amazon where they will have no team specific on-boarding.

I guess your best bet is to try to get help from peers, go for lunch with them and that kind of stuff to not feel left out.

And don't jump into projects, alone by yourself. Try getting another person allocated on the project with you. Their domain knowledge will go a long way in getting things delivered.

> I’m not a collaborator; I’m a recluse.

> What do I do? How do I get better?

What is this "better" you speak of? Sounds like you know yourself well enough. Get a different job. Bigco is not for you. Even once you get familiar with the environment (it will take time, just don't stress about it) and can concentrate on doing your job and not HOW to do your job (if that makes sense), you will still fail at bigco and FA*G (I don't include N). With your personality makeup you are not going to be successful at performance review.

I would even say put in a year to not be a hopper, but it doesn't sound like you will do well and 1 year doesn't look good either. With just 1 month you can easily just not put it on your resume at all.

The other commentors are replying as if you are they. But you are you. Know thyself.

If you were first year out of school I might answer differently but you are old and experienced enough to know what works for you. If at this age you don't even know how to approach being a social animal ... work the way that makes the most of your own skills and personality.

This doesn't sound like normal first month anxiety to me.

deep breaths, and try to chill. when you need help, simply say "I need help" and that should be a trigger for someone to change context and actually help you, if they can.

not asking for help is the biggest mistake you could make.

Agreed. I once joined an engineering team as junior engineer at the same time they brought in a new principal engineer. He had lots of experience, but not on this specific project, so we were both on equal footing regarding the project itself.

I noticed the big difference between me and him was that he was very good at asking questions, whereas I fumbled around and tried to figure things out on my own.

Sometimes figuring it out on your own is exactly the right thing to do. But sometimes -- and especially now, as the newcomer in the group -- asking questions may be a better strategy.

First of all you made it! You are in the top 1% or so of people who apply to be hired at these places. I remember some stat that tens maybe a hundred thousand people apply to google a year and only a select few make it on. Don’t be ashamed! Be proud. You have nothing left to prove just do your work. All the gladiator level proving has been done by your interview and your previous body of work. It’s a huge accomplishment.

Do you have a mentor? Someone you admire with decent people skills that can help you learn the soft skills to help you both accel but also assuage your concerns? I’d look for someone like that because they might have gone through the very same thing you did. Or they might know of someone with a similar personality type and know how to help you.

Just be happy and confident. Again you made it. Someone thought you were good enough to join the team. Be patient but also find ways to insert yourself into cool or interesting projects so that you both get exposed to the business but also show initiative and maybe put your name on some cool projects.

My rule of thumb about the I.S: If you're already thinking of yourself in terms of impostor syndrome, there's a very high probability that you are not an impostor.

Could you be not yet fit for the job? Probably yes. Do you have the talent and knowledge to become good without killing anyone or the company in 3 to 6 months? Again, yes, or at least the H.U. that hired you think so.


i can't exactly tell you what to do because I personally suffer from the same problem in essentially every corporate endeavor i seek. however, that being said, i can give you a lot of things not to do:

-don't not admit that you're overwhelmed when you are. if you keep it inside it'll just compound your feelings.

-if you don't know what to do, don't just not do anything or waste your time on social media. bite the bullet and ask someone.

-don't ever discourage the way you feel entirely. that sense of shame and anxiety does serve a purpose: it motivates you to want to change. for me, i just took it for granted and assumed it couldn't be changed.

-don't actively hide from seeking feedback from your higher ups. if you're that worried about your progress and your contributions, then it only makes sense to seek further information.

-beyond that, don't hide from seeking feedback from fellow employees. they've been there longer than you chances are and they're a lot easier to approach than a supervisor or a boss because it's easy to convince yourself that everything is on the line if you admit to the person who hired you that you're struggling to integrate. the point is: find someone you're comfortable opening up to and do it.

i managed to ride a wonderful job as a software developer for cpanel into the ground after only three months because I just couldn't let myself integrate (not to mention that was the midge of my severe drug addiction period so that also contributed to my downfall). i know how you feel now may suck but it'll be infinitely worse if you let it define you and become the reason you no longer have a job. you clearly have some potential to do it otherwise you wouldn't be there. all you have to do is accept that and understand that growing pains are natural. u got this :^)

Part of why you have less work than you “should” right now is so you can familiarize yourself with the added complexities, both technical and interpersonal, of working in a giant engineering org. So do that. Read documentation. Learn the automation flows. Learn the organization and the political sensitivities. Look at old code reviews. Etc.

Don't stress it too much. Any high level job at a big company: unless you've got a concrete project assigned to you, the first couple of months are going to be eating out of your nose. As long as you don't stand in the way, nobody cares. They all had to go through the same phase, so no one thinks you are slacking unless it goes on for years.

Go to all the meetings you are invited to, help where you can and all will be OK.

As for reaching out to people: learn (project) management/ communication/leadership skills. There are a lot of good resources on amazon about this (research yourself what you actually need). You probably can talk to your boss about this, he then will feel happy he can help you with something and give you tips and explain about the culture etc.

Best of luck and as I said, don't worry too much: if the culture is a fit you will be fine.

Don’t worry about if you’re good enough. You passed the interviews, you’re fine.

You are not an imposter. Everyone feels the same at most stages...just getting hired, once you settled, etc.

This isn’t a platitude, 80% of what people do at FAANGs, Ivy League schools, etc. is chest-puffing.

You are not an imposter.

I'd say: don't worry man, everyone feels "foreign" in a new company for the first few months, especially if it is a "culture shock".

Just do your best and try to improve anything you touch, even if the improvements are minor. (EG boyscout rule)

This is a struggle I can identify with. Settle into the company couch and pass the popcorn.

There is a reason why I return to contract work that has taken some soul searching to discover; I'm just not a Company Man.

The big picture isn't the problem for me so much as abiding by the glacial pace demanded as an FTE. Granted, every company runs at a different tempo, but to operate as a unit there has to be syncopation. Despite adjusting to the pace of a project, it's a temporary change, like vacationing in a different time zone. Freelancer/Samurai/Pirate - all suffer the same fate when it comes to community.

I remember my first job was working on a massive enterprise system in a complex business domain on a codebase that had survived multiple iterations over the last 30 years.

It took a full 9 months before I finally thought 'I can do this job'.

I think part of it was eventually working out the baseline level of competence of the seniors and seeing just how much everyone had to communicate to get anything done. Over time I got used to the various systems and processes but also used to the fact no one knows everything and we just have to clarify with others what we don't know.

It's a team sport.

Wow, I could have written this entire thing myself—except change "first month" to "first year"! One thing I need to work on is asking more questions. I often wait until I've tried to figure something out for an entire day before reaching out, so that hesitation can be a huge productivity hit that also comes with those guilty, shamey feelings.

It's nice to know I'm not alone, and that there are ways to cope with this that have worked for others. Thanks for posting!

Are you based in Mountain View? If so, feel free to email me - my username at gmail.

I've been building a course on helping people think like an engineer and I would be happy to help you change how you think when it comes to coding.

I have a very solid approach that works well, it's easy to learn and master.

Be thankful you're living outside of your comfort zone. This means your growing as a person.

Feel free to contact me. FYI I'm not selling nothing; my course will be made available and free to folks.

A month ago I started into a new position at the same work place after working in the old position for 9 years and I feel everything you describe.

Thanks for your post, rericks. I am feeling exactly the same way... I am so anxious about that that I have doubted what else could I do in life... But we should hold tight. In 3 months, you will know much more about parts of the system, you will be an expert of some of its facets. By then, you will be an example of the phrase "Fake it 'till you make it".

And thanks, again. I will spend a better week-end, knowing I am not the only one, and that it has an actual "name".

I frequently have similar thoughts about whether I am capable enough, whenever I join a new project or take up a new task. So you are not alone.

One thing that helps is to look back and remember some of the cool things you have done, or the times when people acknowledged your work. Then that makes me think "I can't be all that bad".

Good luck!

Talk to your manager about your concerns and ask them what their expectations are for your performance. For the 6 months to a year the expectations are honestly pretty low. In the very unlikely case they aren't happy with how you're doing then at least you'll know and have a better idea on what to improve.

Yeah, I constantly tell new devs that I don't expect them be very productive until 6 months in. Prior to that I just expect them to be absorbing as much information as possible and doing minor fixes.

To add to my patent coment I'm sure you're doing fine. In my experience as long as you are learning stuff in your first month it's fine. Also you mentioned concerns about collaborating and communicating in a large organization, for me those skills took like 2 years to learn after joining somewhere and they seemed happy with that rate of growth

Boy, have we written a song for you!


From asking around the band, and other people, it seems like the thing that helps best with this is time.

One thought that helped me was if I was not doing the job to the satisfaction of The Company, either my manager or HR would schedule a meeting with me about my performance and give me a chance to improve. If that isn't happening to you, then you are doing fine.

This is entirely normal for your first month. Be patient with yourself and you'll catch on.

Ask for a buddy / mentor. They will help you familiarise with the environment. That and ask any question that pops in your head. People like to see you being inquisitive and getting clarification! That means you’re thinking along and are growing.

It takes me 1 year to train new hires in my team. I would not sweat it.

Develop good rapport with you Manager. Ask them what their biggest challenges are right now. Try to find ways to help them and provide more perceived value.

Oh man.

I moved to the US to work for Pivotal. I spent my first 6 months thinking: they're going to sack me. They realise they made a mistake. I am useless.

Slowly it faded.

Every once in a while I will be in a situation where I am thrashing. Guess what I start thinking? Right: they're going to sack me. They realise they made a mistake. I am useless.

I've worked on about a dozen products now with various languages, user-facing-ness, technical novelty and so on. Every. Freaking. Time. I join a team I flail and I feel like I'm a drag on all of these brilliant people and that I am going to be fired ...

The difficulty with mental health is that you cannot find an objective yardstick that your emotional self will accept. The brain is just not made that way. It's the ultimate clusterfuck spaghetti code, hacked together over billions of years with multiple competing subsystems that flop into temporary control of things before oozing away again. You are unaware of how totally everything is in your head because the man is behind the curtain and you're paying no attention to him.

This Is The World, the you that thinks it's you thinks. I Have Always Been An Impartial Observer, continues the part of you that is anything but impartial and about as observant as a drunken brick tumbling down a hill.

These are terrible struggles. Anxious me is convinced all the awful things will happen. Depressed me is convinced that none of the good things will ever happen. Feeling-kinda-OK me knows, of course, that everything is going to be fine and wow would you look at that sunset, what a beauty...

The various flavours of my self which seize custody of my life at various times are all equally, totally convinced that they are the keepers of the true truth, that the other truths are false.

It helps to see that you cannot get out of yourself. That's the secret. When you know that you are not a single unitary thing, you get a tiny bit of perspective, a tiny bit of leverage over any of yourselves. You can say to the anxious self: yes, fine, doom and gloom, but for the moment let's just suspend our disbelief. You can say to the depressed self: yes, fine, it's pointless and even breathing is a muffled insult to your suffering, but let's go see the therapist and psychiatrist anyway. Because we've been here before, we'll be here again, and we can manage it.

One last thing: start getting treatment. You aren't alone, anxiety and depression are treatable and seeking treatment is important. Especially since, because you are smart, you will be able to invert anything positive anyone says to you -- other than a seasoned professional who understands the deep dynamics that conceal you from yourself.

It's just playing catchup mate...you'll get your own project soon enough. Also, likely bad explanations by them...

Meditate. Leave the responsibility of your place at the company on the shoulders of those who let you in. Also, meditate.

Imposter syndrome means you’re growing.

I expect they're paying you a lot - maybe more than you've ever made before - so you feel under pressure to deliver straight out of the gate to prove your worth. Well, remember several things:

* Probably no one you directly work with will know how much you're being paid, so they're unlikely to judge you as being overpaid * It takes time for everyone to build the mental models of how systems, tooling and codebases work. Expecting anyone to be productive straight away is unreasonable and would be a massive warning sign if they were putting pressure on you like that. You haven't mentioned that they are, so you're probably just putting yourself under pressure.

Having said that, making staff feel insecure and always needing to prove themselves is no doubt a "productivity" strategy for some companies to try to make people to compete, work late, etc. If that's the case, I'd just walk - or at least recognise it for what it is and refuse to play that game. That's one purpose for "bonuses" I've seen - making unreasonable demands on employees seem fine because they'll get their "bonus". Over the years I've gained far more (financially and in quality of life) from having strict work/life boundaries than colleagues who consistently worked late. After all, if the deal was $x for y hours per week then if y increase, so should x.

In my last (very well paid) job I felt very anxious for the first month or two. I was surprised to feel stressed about meetings to the point I almost had to leave several to go to the toilet because I felt physically sick. I'm quite outgoing, normally confident and good at what I do so I was surprised about this. But it really was caused by being paid so much that I put myself under pressure in case they thought they'd made a bad decision and let me go. Over a month or two though it passed. Just hang in there until you find your niche.

The people there who seem to be really "on point" just know how things work. That'll come with time as you gain more experience. Until then, be kind to yourself and try to relax as best you can until you ride it out. And don't work late to compensate. Get quality relaxation time instead or you'll end up in a vicious cycle of tiredness, under-performance, etc.

For your other "big issue" that's just a learning process. I doubt you need to "rewire" your personality - just learn some tricks to allow it become a little more fluid and adaptable. We all act to some extent - you just need to broaden your repertoire. I expect there are courses online to help you become better at running and organising meetings, developing rapport, etc., so try looking those up (sorry I've never taken any of those so can't recommend any specifically but perhaps try Lynda.com).

> I don’t know if this is impostor syndrome

It is a question worth asking. Our industry talks so much about impostor syndrome that people forget that there are other sources of lack-of-confidence.

I'm going to go through and try provide a clear vision of what challenges you are running into. Based on my interpretation, I'll then write out what are hopefully some clear actions to take or concrete questions to resolve. However, if you think Ive missed the mark in my interpretation, please let me know.

> joined...a month ago

Oh, so you're totally new then. Cool.

> all on the order of maybe a few hundred lines of code

Lines-of-code can be a proxy for the scope of a problem when you adjust for language expressiveness, but it is a very rough one. What I'm hearing here is that you're used to taking on projects for clients which are a fairly meaty bit of their business and require you to write whole features fairly quickly...but probably doing greenfield development. Modifying code that has been running for a while in an established organisation is a bit of a different beast.

> I’ve also spent maybe a week more than I should have on a fairly simple feature, just from fighting with my tools and trying to figure out where to put a few sparse calls in the codebase. It’s really embarrassing.

So I'm hearing a mix of frustration at your developer experience and disappointment in yourself for running into that frustration. I'm guessing that before you had a toolchain you were very fluent with and now you are...not. Okay, this is a problem to solve. Not as in "this is a problem with you", just "this is a problem you've got to deal with". Ideally, you deal with it by scoping out the pieces required to fix your development environment and tacking them as engineering challenges. This process will be significantly accelerated by asking well-framed questions of your coworkers who have the same sort of development environment. Julia Evans has a blog post on how to ask good questions which you should absolutely go read right now. https://jvns.ca/blog/good-questions/

But some of your struggles with your development environment might apply to the lots of other folks and be the sort of thing that requires your team to do an investment project to solve that problem.

> Their thoughts are completely clear... I rarely hear them misunderstand anything

whoop whoop sampling bias alert! You cannot telepathically read anyone else's mind. However, you can read your own mind. But this perception of yours still comes from somewhere. Where then?

* I suspect your coworkers are probably reasonably concise and organised in their speech. This is a combination of a social skill, knowledge of the domain, and a willingness to wait to speak until you've organised your thoughts. The last one is a habit that depends somewhat on backbone. The former takes a combination of practice and

* I would be a very surprised if they never ask for clarification on anything. Indeed, the ability to notice that something is ambiguous and pin down reality is one of the most important communication skills for an engineer. However, there is a skill to expressing confusion confidently. You can pick up on it if you hear phrases like "could you clarify something for me...", "There is a point unresolved here..." or "so if I understand you correctly..." Are you sure that they aren't merely exercising the skill of projecting confidence while resolving confusion?

> In contrast my thoughts tend to be extremely muddled. I often take in information without making much sense of it at first

So when you check your intuition to see if you understand whats going on, it comes back saying "bwuhhhhh?"

Yup. Thats kinda how it goes when you're new somewhere.

When was the last time you had the experience of starting university or a bootcamp for the first time? If it was a while ago (or never happened), then you should keep in mind that it takes time to absorb information and it is normal for it to be overwhelmed a bit. I strongly advise spending two half-Saturdays watching all of the video lectures from the course Learning How To Learn. Don't be embarassed to use techniques from study bloggers like Thomas Frank -- Anki flashcards are in fact still super-useful for taking a mental model and cementing it. When you have a solid conceptual foundation, then the new info you take in will be "chunked" and will fit better in your working memory and won't be overwhelming. Also, for learning things and de-muddling your brain try going for a walk in a park, putting on some bluetooth headphones, and talking out loud explaining things to yourself. I find that I have a clearer grasp of things after I've dictated to https://otter.ai

For now, work to be willing to re-read things or ask someone to repeat something that they just said.

> I’m riddled with anxiety every day. For one, I’m worried that my coworkers might think ...

The cure for this is clear feedback, received over time. There is a skill to getting it. The short explanation of how to do so is to be explicit that you are looking for feedback and to present specific questions in a [{situation} {action} {?effect?}] structure. For example: "When we were in the meeting to scope out the turtle-stacking API endpoint and I asked for clarification on tortoises, do you think that derailed the discussion?" Much like another question you ask, you might preface that with why you are asking. "I'm working to get better at concisely asking clarifying questions in technical discussions."

The key here is to give a voice to your concern, but in the tone you use to address a manageable question that you can rationally examine and then respond to -- because it is manageable. If you're doing something wrong but you concretely know what it is, you an solve it. If you're guessing at a problem, you won't have the certainty you need to commit to grow past it.

The longer explainations are found in this Lead Developer UK talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsfNS9HSWQs and this book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thanks-Feedback-Science-Receiving-W...

> I think I’m riddled with fear that I’m just not good enough to

The cure for this is to get an idea of the specific capabilities that your job expects of you. Ideally, your company has some sort of regular review process where you are asked to evaluate yourself against these specific capabilities. Ask your manager (whoever you do 1-on-1s with) what that process is and walk through those questions with them now rather than later. Then you can turn this vague fear that you are not 'good enough' into a specific fear that you can't do X well. Then you can get advise or resources on how to do X.

> I don’t really know how to reach out to people

There is a fairly large basket of skills here and I've got to rush off, so I'll just say that these skills are learnable and there are resources out there which I'm sure others are linking in this thread.

You a have a huge attitude problem.

> I am trying to get new ideas done. But after one day of programming for my job, I am exhausted and I cannot extract any brain-juice any more. And if I try to work during the week-ends, I can't rewind enough for the next week. And my progress are damn slow. It seems I would need a year to achieve what a good programmer could do in a week.

Do you have professional training? A degree? How long have you been programming? I know the current fad is to brush off the stodgy past and just start hacking, but it's honestly complete horse-shit.

You need some kind of training to be a great engineer, even if it is self training through reading books and documentation. Or do you think you will simply invent or absorb the past 40 years of software development and research through osmosis?

Tooling around and poking at things until they work is a great way to start programming but it eventually becomes exhausting.

Experience is an amazing resource, but in my opinion is over-rated. Directed practice and active learning is what leads to becoming a better programmer. If you are finding you aren't progressing, ask yourself: What are you doing to fix that? https://daedtech.com/how-developers-stop-learning-rise-of-th...

> Let alone be a Mark Zuckerberg

This is such a toxic attitude.

Did you go to an elite private university? Did you go to an elite, extremely expensive boarding high school? Did you have a merlin-style private tutor that taught you computer programming at a young age? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars did your parents invest into your education?

No? Then why are you comparing yourself to Mark Zuckerberg? He comes from a different planet then you.

I know we like to idolize our captains of industry and Zuckerberg is undoubtedly brilliant and driven, but he had everything in the world pulling for him. If he had NOT succeeded in the way he has, it would have been pathetic.

Don't compare yourself to these people. They aren't like you. They have powerful families and friends that get their foot in the door for great connections.

They can take insane risks like dropping out of elite universities. Why? Because guess what: Mommy and daddy are there to pay for it when they decide to go back.

> The other big issue is that I don’t really know how to reach out to people. I’m not a collaborator; I’m a recluse. In my life, I’ve always done things from scratch. Now I have to make meetings, ask people for information, decide that something needs to be done and tell another team to do it, etc. To get good at this, it feels like I basically have to rewire my entire personality, and I don’t know how to go about doing this. I’ve also found myself not asking clarifying questions when something doesn’t make sense in a meeting—see “muddled thoughts” above—and then I’m stuck figuring out whatever it was that I misunderstood on my own time (or not at all).

You sound like you have anxiety problems. What have you done to address your anti-social tendencies? Are you going to a therapist? Do you expect a fairy to fly into your house and magic them away? What job do you think exists where you don't need these skills?

I know this is harsh to say, but: There is no finish line where you get a medal and a "You don't have to act like a normal person at work anymore" card. These problems are not going away and being fatalistic about them and deciding it's too much of a bother to work on them and address them is never going to fix anything.

Also, you think being an entrepreneur will allow you to talk to FEWER people and prevent you from having to reach out to people?

Sincere question: Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? What are your goals?

Wanting to be an entrepreneur in order to chase after the coat-tails of Mark Zuckerberg and other elite business owners is not a goal.

Wanting to be an entrepreneur because you have anxiety issues and want to run away from your problems instead of addressing them is not a goal.

And if you think you will make more money, you are PROBABLY wrong. 100k/year with no personal risk is a margin a LOT of small businesses would LOVE to have.

> What do I do? How do I get better?

GO TO A THERAPIST. Have them help you set goals. Listen to them and follow through with their advice.

Having a therapist does not mean you are crazy, and you don't NEED to be crazy to have one. It means you have having a neutral person who helps you track and set goals, track your moods, and help you process work relationships and events. Michael Jordan has a coach, brain workers have therapists.

Also: Learn to read. Look at these titans of industry and people at the top of their field, and then look at their reading list. Invariably it will be intensely long and full of boring books.

Read some books on productivity and emotional intelligence and software engineering and managing your life in general. Find people you admire and read their book recommendations.

My recommendations to start out:

- Deep Work - Cal Newport

- Measure What Matters - John Doerr

- The Pragmatic Programmer - Dave Thomas + Andrew Hunt

- Actual books about the programming environment you are working in.

I believe you may be overthinking it and that is taking its toll on you. You don't know what you expect and you're making judgement based on what you're observing your colleagues do.

Here is my advice to you:

Step 1) Get a mentor. Someone who's been there for a while and get how the system (both people and machines) work and can provide guidance and point you in the right direction when they're stuck. Make good use of the time they give you and use every opportunity to thank them. Most bigCorp have some sort of mentoring program in place. If no formal mentoring program, ask your boss or your boss' boss for help in finding a mentor.

Step 2) Befriend your teammates. Forget about all the technical mumbo-jumbo and try to get to know them as human beings. Ask about things they do outside work, weekend, music they listen to, things they are passionate about. Don't force it though. Be friendly and have as a goal to build a connection with these people.

Step 3) Befriend people that sit in your close proximity (and are not part of your team). Having someone to chat about work related issues in the context that you're not going get judged for your actual work is again worth its weight in gold. Be curious about other people and share what you're passionate about. It does not have to be super-long boring. You just need to find one other person that really likes you to bootstrap you in the social environment

Step 4) Your boss. Figure out how to make your boss successful. No, I'm not joking. Your relationship with your immediate boss is going to make or brake your experience there. Constantly ask for feedback and offer to offload your boss on various things if you have the ability to actually deliver. Don't be a kiss-ass, but do your absolute best to make your boss successful.

Closing words: working at a big corporation can be a daunting experience at first. It's going to be a while for you to figure out how internal tooling and systems work. 3-6 months is not unheard off when it comes to ramp-up time. What you want to do is constantly ask questions and learn how that shit works. Invest the time (and slack) you are give now to seed your future growth. Also invest building connections with other people and discussing things that currently challenge you with them - don't be afraid to be vulnerable and admit when you don't know something. Most people are nice and actually try to help you if they can help you and are worth their effort (in the sense that they're not gonna explain the same thing 10 times to you if you don't put any effort into it, but they will explain something to you if it means that next time you'll do it on your own without bothering them). Forget about pride. Be humble and use your "beginner's mind" to your advantage.

In the grand scheme of things we are all impostors.

You won't. This is a common failing in tech in SFBAY. They posted some stats on it, but its prevalence is very very high. Same with the PHD's (who also suffer from it).

But, you'll probably find someway to cope with it.

I thought this is what the process of extended "onboarding"/mentoring they kept babbling about was supposed to address?


Personal attacks will get you banned here. If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and not comment like this in the future, regardless of how someone else's post lands with you, we'd appreciate it.

Once i was at the same place. When i fixed my health issues (which i was unware of), i made good progress with my team. Let me skip the job part.

I didn't even know that i could feel better than what i was feeling at that time. How do you know that you've got an issue when you don't know that something better exists.

How is your health? Do you get sufficient sunlight (vitamin D?

How much body fat % do you've? What's your BMI?

Sometimes anexity is a singnal of something wrong going with our health.

About the job, if you've skills and you are healthy and motivated, you'll do a good job. No need to stress yourself.

If your performance is not optimum for the job you got, don't try too hard, you'll burn out. Be mindful, plan things and see where they take you. Maybe they'll fire you one day then you'll end up in other company.

Once i was at the same place. Once i fixed my health issues (which i was unware of), i made good progress with my team.


Nicotine is a powerful nootropic.

No, don't do drugs.

You're feeling incapable of doing your job. Address either your capabilities or your feelings. If your background isn't as good as you thought, this is your time to catch up. If it's your feelings, confront them. Why do you feel inadequate? What can you do to improve your perception of yourself?

Nootropics are to increase verbal fluidity and mental clarity. A multivitamin stack supports nootropic use and helps maintain good health (along with nutrition, exercise, and quality sleep; engineering jobs can be draining/stressful). They are a long-term complement regardless of emotional/productivity status. Short-term, he has to address issues and perhaps meditate (and/or listen to brainwave entrainment audio).

i would also suggest specifically to look into ampakines if you're going to go the nootropic route. nothing ive ever taken beats IDRA-21 in terms of destroying the barrier to knowledge acquisition and fluidity. I hear prl-8-53 also works well in that regard, but I haven't tried it. other than that the only other nootropic i can vouch for is memantine but some people might question the nootropic potential of that when you take doses large enough to be ensconced on a dissociative euphoria :^). still everyone I've talked to that uses it in more restrictive dosing regimens confirms that it works pretty well for nootropic and cognitive benefit.

Memantine is best at about 5 mg (start at 2.5 mg, then add another 2.5 mg 3-4 days later).

I forgot to mention P21/cerebrolysin, perhaps my favorite nootropic. SEMAX + selank + alpha-GPC is a good/strong general purpose stack, especially as the OP mentioned issues with verbal fluidity. Other nootropics would be taken acutely to increase focus, memory, motivation, etc.

N-acetyl semax + PRL-8-53 + coluracetam (or oxiracetam) is another combo. PRL-8-53 mainly helps with memory.

Piracetam makes it easier to multitask (ie, listen to music while reading or functioning while in an open office environment).

hey thanks for the suggestions ill have to try a few of those stacks later when I have the money to. I've been meaning to experiment with a racetam as well as adrafinil (or more realistically modafinil if I could acquire it directly.)

those doses of memantine seem a lot more realistic than what I would do, namely taking 150-200mg daily. but I wasn't doing it for the nootropic benefit. i was doing it for the sake of the nmda antagonism. granted i still found nootropic benefit even in those extreme doses but i think my experience is very atypical as I tend to feel more functional and alert when I am experience a period of marked nmda antagonism. may just be confirmation bias or something like that but it seems the only time recently in my life I've been able to make something of myself and do what's necessary is when I have those doses of memantine.

What the actual hell.

Maybe you should (seriously) consider the same advice.

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